Diabetes is no longer a word we rarely hear. In fact, we hear it quite frequently. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States but do you know what diabetes is? Diabetes is a disease in which blood glucose (sugar) levels are above normal. Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose, or sugar, for our bodies to use for energy. The pancreas, an organ that lies near the stomach, makes a hormone called insulin to help glucose get into the cells of our bodies. When you have diabetes, your body:

  1. Either doesn't make enough insulin (type I diabetes) or
  2. Can't use its own insulin as well as it should (type II diabetes)

Without the proper amount of insulin, both, type I and type II diabetes causes sugar to build up in your bloodstream resulting in high blood glucose levels which can cause serious health complications including:

  • Heart Disease
  • Blindness
  • Kidney Failure
  • Lower-extremity Amputations.

Type I diabetes is usually diagnosed in children & young adults. Only 5 percent of people have this form of diabetes. With the help of insulin therapy and other treatments, even young children can learn to manage their condition and live long, healthy lives.

Type II diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. Approximately 29.1 million people are living with diabetes. Some people with type II can control their blood glucose with healthy eating and being active.

Symptoms to watch for:

  • Frequent urination
  • Feeling very thirsty
  • Feeling very hungry
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Blurry vision
  • More infections than usual
  • Wounds slow to heal
  • Weight loss
  • Tingling/pain/numbness in hands/feet.
  • Very dry skin

Who is at risk for developing type II diabetes? Those who:

  • Are Older
  • Are Obese
  • Have a family history of diabetes
  • Have a prior history of gestational diabetes
  • Have impaired glucose tolerance
  • Are physically inactive
  • Have high blood pressure of 140/90 or higher
  • Have abnormal cholesterol
  • Are African American, Hispanic/Latino American, American Indians, Asian American, or Pacific Islanders 

Whether you have diabetes or not, it is important to consume a balanced nutritional intake of whole grains, fruits, veggies, protein and dairy products. Decrease added sugars, fats, fried foods and processed foods. Plus being active will help reduce the risk and delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.

Moral of the story, do not believe in the full power of medication; you need to make lifestyle changes in order to have a significant impact on slowing the process or preventing diabetes.

Submitted by: Megan Swenson, Certified Wellness Coach at St. Croix Regional Medical Center

“Healthy Minute” is brought to you by healthyburnett.org

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