Fitness Facts: November is Diabetes Awareness Month
By Jo Gott
Nurse Practitioner, Canyon Health and Wellness Clinic
Many people know someone who has been diagnosed with diabetes. And most people are aware there are two major types of diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes affects around 5% of people with diabetes. In this condition, the person’s pancreas no longer makes insulin, so they must take insulin daily to survive. Many times the diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes occurs before the age of 20.
However, the majority of people with diabetes have Type 2, where the body’s cells becomes resistant to natural insulin. This occurs slowly over many years, and sometimes patients are told they have pre-diabetes.
It is estimated through research that 1 out of 3 people have pre-diabetes but are totally unaware! Why is this occurring and can it be prevented?
The good news is, yes, Type 2 diabetes can be prevented. There are three risks you can alter regarding pre-diabetes:
- Weight. Being overweight is a main risk factor for Type 2 diabetes.
- Fat distribution. If you store fat mainly in the abdomen, you have a greater risk of Type 2 diabetes than if you store fat elsewhere, such as in your hips and thighs. Your risk of Type 2 diabetes rises if you’re a man with a waist circumference above 40 inches or a woman with a waist that’s greater than 35 inches.
- Inactivity. The less active you are, the greater your risk of Type 2 diabetes. Physical activity helps you control your weight, uses up glucose as energy and makes your cells more sensitive to insulin.
The diagnosis of diabetes is made through a fasting blood glucose test or a test called hemoglobin A1C. The A1C test tracts blood glucose values over the past 60-90 days. Higher than normal values in either of these tests warrants attention to your lifestyle.
Why should people be diagnosed? Because left untreated, Type 2 diabetes can affect many other body systems. It can lead to heart disease, kidney disease, loss of vision, foot ulcers and, unfortunately in severe cases, amputation of a lower extremity.
Recently, some people are asking if Type 2 diabetes is reversible. There have been studies on morbidly obese patients who underwent bariatric surgery and, in fact, Type 2 diabetes was reversed.
Some experts say, however, that the disease never goes away, but blood sugars may be controlled by eating less carbohydrates and sugar. It is estimated that 50% of those with elevated A1C’s could lower their value by making positive lifestyle changes. These adjustments include dietary changes with more fresh fruits and vegetables, plus an increase in activity.
The goal of Diabetes Awareness Month is for more people to be tested and take control of their health. You may be tested at your local primary care facility or the Canyon Health and Wellness Clinic. Awareness is the first step in prevention!