Diabetes is no longer a word we rarely hear. In fact, we hear it quite frequently. Diabetes is a disease in which blood glucose, or blood sugar, levels are above normal. Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose, 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 the process of getting glucose out of our blood and into our cells is hindered, this causes diabetes. There are three different types of diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children & young adults. With type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce enough of the hormone insulin. Only 5% of people have this form of diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes with approximately 29.1 million people living with type 2 diabetes. With type 2 diabetes, the body does not use the insulin it makes as well as it should.

Gestational diabetes usually occurs around the 24th week of pregnancy. It starts when your body is not able to make and use all the insulin it needs for pregnancy.

Without the proper amount of insulin, sugar builds up in the bloodstream resulting in high blood glucose levels which can cause serious health complications including:

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

Some symptoms to watch out for are frequent urination, feeling very thirsty, feeling very hungry, extreme fatigue, blurry vision, wounds slow to heal, weight loss, tingling/pain/numbness in hands/feet.

If you are showing symptoms, it is important to schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider. Lab tests will be done in order to test your blood glucose levels, also known as A1C.

Whether you have diabetes or not, it is important to consume whole grains, fruits, veggies, protein and dairy products. Decrease added sugars, fats, fried foods and processed foods. Plus being active will help slow the process or prevent certain types of 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

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