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The Low Down on Diabetes

January 17th, 2018

If you’ve recently been diagnosed with diabetes – you probably have a lot of questions or feel uncertain about what you should do. You are not alone! Every year 1.4 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes, a condition that results from too much sugar in the blood. It’s usually related to being overweight, so getting to a healthy weight is the critical first step to fighting or even reversing the disease. The good news is that you can live a normal, healthy life if you do what it takes to control your diabetes. 

The most common form of diabetes is type 2, which causes your body not use insulin properly. This is called insulin resistance. Your pancreas makes extra insulin, but eventually it isn’t able to make enough to keep your blood sugar at normal levels. Why is it important to control your diabetes? Untreated diabetes can cause blood sugar levels to rise, leading to serious health issues like eye damage that may cause blindness, heart attack, kidney failure, and nerve and blood vessel damage that could lead to loss of toes or feet. 

The longer your blood sugar is uncontrolled, the greater your risk for developing these conditions – no matter your age. When blood sugar levels stay close to the ideal range, it minimizes, delays or even prevents problems that diabetes may cause. 

Defeating Diabetes 

So now you know that uncontrolled diabetes can lead to a wide range of health issues. But there are things you can do to decrease your risk, including learning to control your blood sugar through exercise and eating a balanced diet. These are the keys to preventing complications like blindness, heart disease, stroke, kidney failure or nerve damage. 

Get moving – every day. The American Diabetes Association recommends 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise at least five days a week or a total of 150 minutes. Moderate intensity means you can talk, but not sing, through your workout or activity. If you’re just getting started, begin with 10 minutes a day and increase a few minutes each week.

Fight back with healthy foods. Foods like white bread, rice and sugary snacks digest quickly and raise your blood sugar in a short period of time. Choosing foods low in fat and high in other nutrients – like fruits, vegetables, dairy products, whole grain breads and lean proteins – help insulin do its job and remove sugar out of the blood vessels. 

Enlist the help of your physician. If you’re concerned about your weight or your risk for developing diabetes, your doctor probably is too. Your doctor, a registered dietician or diabetes educator can answer your questions. They can also help you set realistic weight loss goals (if needed), and show you ways to get to your healthy weight – and stay there. 

It’s important for everyone to be aware of their blood sugar levels, and the simple blood test for diabetes is usually covered by insurance. The sooner you know about a pre-diabetes or diabetes diagnosis, the sooner you can make lifestyle changes that can reverse the condition in its early stages and improve your health overall. 

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