November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness about diabetes and supporting those who are affected by diabetes. In the United States, around 37.3 million Americans, or approximately 1 in 10, have diabetes.
Diabetes is a chronic or lifelong disease that happens when a person’s body cannot produce insulin or use insulin well. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps to regulate the amount of glucose in the blood. When there is not enough of it, blood sugar levels rise, which causes many health complications.
The three most common types of diabetes, classified by how they impair insulin function or production, are:
- Type 1 diabetes: People with Type 1 diabetes cannot make enough or any insulin at all, resulting in a high build-up of blood sugar in the bloodstream. It is an autoimmune condition because the body’s immune system attacks and destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. As a result, those with Type 1 diabetes need to take insulin shots or wear an insulin pump every day.
- Type 2 diabetes: Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes and often develops as a result of lifestyle. In this disease, a person’s cells become resistant to insulin, and thus, blood sugar levels can escalate.
- Gestational diabetes: Gestational diabetes happens when a pregnant person’s body cannot produce enough insulin during their pregnancy. This can happen because of the multiple hormones and body changes during pregnancy.
Regardless of what type of diabetes a person may have, managing the disease can become easier with some of the tips listed below:
- Healthy Eating: Consuming lean proteins, lowered amounts of carbohydrates, and fiber-rich fruits and vegetables can help lower blood sugar levels.
- Frequent Exercise: Incorporate exercise into your everyday life and break it up into small intervals to make it more approachable. Cardio is especially effective for diabetes management.
- Monitor Blood Sugar Levels: Keeping track of your blood sugar levels is essential, and communicating that information to your healthcare provider will ensure you are making the right changes.
- Manage Stress: High levels of stress can worsen diabetes. Take the time to be gentle with yourself and practice stress-relieving activities such as yoga or meditation.
- Working With Healthcare Professionals: Make sure that you are communicating with and following the advice of your healthcare team. Taking medications and going for regular check-ups are essential.
- Find a Community: You are not alone in this process. Joining a diabetes support group or community can provide emotional support and valuable information from others experiencing the same thing.
- Establish Purpose: Find a reason that motivates you to keep taking care of yourself the best way you can.
Diabetes management is a lifelong process that calls for dedication and ongoing self-care. Despite being diagnosed with diabetes, people can lead productive and fulfilling lives by making changes to their lifestyle that can seem daunting at first but become easier with time.
Talk to your provider today to learn about our Diabetes Wellness Program.