November–National Diabetes Month
November officially marks the beginning of National Diabetes Month. The importance of this month revolves around spreading awareness, funds and support for those who are dealing with the daily burdens that come with this disease.
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, Diabetes affects 25.8 million people of all ages in the United States. You may not have Diabetes yourself, but chances are, you have a friend, family member, or co-worker who has been diagnosed.
Diabetes is a disease where the body is unable to produce insulin properly. Insulin is a hormone that converts sugar, starches and other foods into energy. Many people have heard that there are two different type of Diabetes, but what really are the differences between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes?…
- Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 Diabetics cannot produce their own insulin because their body has destroyed the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. When the body destroys vital components needed to carry out important functions, it is classified as a autoimmune disease. More often than not, Type 1 Diabetics have developed the autoimmune disease before the age of 40. Type 1 Diabetes is often referred to as Juvenile Diabetes and Childhood Diabetes. Those with Type 1 Diabetes need to regularly intake insulin via insulin pumps, insulin therapies, etc. to stay alive because insulin is vital in everyday health. The biggest difference between Type 1 & Type 2 Diabetes is that Type 1 is not preventable and in no way correlated as a result of a person’s lifestyle.
- Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 Diabetics have differing issues with insulin rather than the inability to create it in general. Those who have Type 2 Diabetes either lack to the ability to create enough insulin, or the insulin that is being produced isn’t working properly. When insulin isn’t working properly, it is known as insulin resistance. In most cases, Type 2 Diabetes is developed in those who are either overweight and unfit, or have underlying health problems that prevent active and healthy lifestyles. Though Type 2 Diabetes tends to be developed in the later years of life, more of the younger generation are starting to develop it–even people in their early 20’s. About 85% of Diabetes patients have Type 2.
Signs/Symptoms of Diabetes include:
- Excessive thirst, increased tiredness and fatigue, numbness, increased urination, extreme hunger, unusual weight loss, irritated gums, slow healing cuts or bruises, blurry vision, itchy & dry skin, increased irritability.
Those with Diabetes are also at an increased risk for kidney disease, stroke, heart attack and blindness. There is no cure for Diabetes, however, there are ways to manage it.
Meal planning is a key component in managing Diabetes. Carbohydrate counting allows flexibility in food choices. The American Diabetes Association does not have a list of forbidden foods that people with Diabetes cannot eat because the key to managing insulin and sugar levels varies greatly and the best ‘advice’ would be everything in moderation & consciousness. People with Diabetes can eat a variety of foods in moderation as long as the carbohydrate content is calculated into their meal plans.
Adults with newly diagnosed Type 2 diabetes should start meal planning with a general carbohydrate guideline until seeing the dietitian, which is highly recommended, so that they can personalize and tailor specific meal plans to the individual’s unique needs. A general guideline based on weight reduction calorie levels starts at 45 grams of carbohydrate/meal for women and 60 grams/meal for men. People with Type 1 Diabetes have more flexibility with their carbohydrate intake due to their use of insulin and/or an insulin pump and the insulin to carbohydrate ratio provided by their physician. For both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes, accuracy is the key for controlling blood sugars via moderation and carbohydrate counting.
Blood Sugar Levels
- Normal sugar levels less than 100 mg/dL when fasting
- Less than 140 mg/dL two hours after eating
*But in most healthy people, sugar levels are even lower.
Accurate carbohydrate counting is especially important for people who are newly diagnosed, have an elevated A1C level, want to manage weight and/or are starting on an insulin pump for the first time. To ensure accurate carbohydrate counting, it is very wise to invest in measuring cups and a kitchen scale as well for meal planning and general cooking.
Using a kitchen scale is especially helpful when calculating the carbohydrate content of foods that come in a variety of sizes, such as fresh fruit, baked potatoes and breads of different shapes and sizes. For example, every 4 ounces of an apple contains 15 grams of carbohydrate. You cannot look at an apple to determine the carbohydrate content; you need to weigh it for accuracy.
Your healthcare team, medication and/or insulin, a blood glucose monitor, physical activity and a kitchen scale are all important tools in self management of Diabetes. Even if you have been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes or were born with Type 1, this disease is not something you have to have completely take over your life. By being educated about your health & actively listening to what your body is telling you, you can live a long, happy & healthy life!
National Diabetes Organizations
- American Diabetes Association
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
- JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation)
- National Diabetes Education Program
Disclaimer: The Escali Blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. more