November is Diabetes Awareness Month

Find out ways to minimize your risk factors

Do you know anyone with diabetes? Diabetes is a serious disease, in which your pancreas produces little or no insulin, a substance which is needed to process the sugars that we consume. Without treatment, diabetes can eventually lead to vision loss, kidney failure, neuropathy, and other serious complications.

What is the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is typically diagnosed in children and young adults. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas no longer produces insulin, so the person requires insulin therapy to manage the disease throughout their entire lives. This type of diabetes accounts for about 5% of people with diabetes, and is not preventable. It is believed to be caused by genetics.

Type 2 diabetes is much more common, and it is on a steep rise in our country, largely due to factors of diet. In type 2 diabetes, your body still makes insulin, but doesn’t use it properly. The disease is usually diagnosed when you are an adult, and it is a serious and chronic condition that usually lasts your whole life. If you have type 2 diabetes, you may be able to control it with diet and exercise alone, or your doctor may prescribe insulin therapy.

What are the signs of diabetes?

Diabetes can have mild or severe symptoms, depending on the person. Diabetes needs to be diagnosed by a doctor, so if you have any of these symptoms, be sure to consult your doctor. According to the American Diabetes Association, you should look for these symptoms:

  • Frequent urination
  • Strong sense of thirst
  • Strong hunger
  • Extreme fatigue (tiredness)
  • Blurred vision
  • Cuts or bruises that take a long time to heal
  • Weight loss, even when eating more (type 1 diabetes)
  • Tingling, numbness, or pain in the hands and feet (type 2 diabetes)

Preventing Type 2 Diabetes

What can you do to minimize your risk of getting type 2 diabetes? What are the diet and lifestyle guidelines that can help? To begin, you can take the Risk Test on the American Diabetes Association website.

Many people think that being overweight means that you will get diabetes. Being overweight is definitely one risk factor, but there are other risk factors like family history, age, and ethnicity that play a part too. People who are not overweight can also get diabetes.

To begin lowering your risk, start by evaluating your diet. Are you eating a healthy balanced diet? Or are you prone to junk food binges? Do you eat too many fast food meals and processed foods? While no one can eat perfectly all of the time, here are some foods that you should include in your regular diet to help prevent diabetes:

  • Beans (canned beans are fine)
  • Dark leafy green vegetables (spinach, kale, collards)
  • Citrus fruits
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Berries
  • Tomatoes
  • Fish that are high in omega-3 fats (salmon, albacore tuna, sardines, trout, mackerel, herring)
  • Nuts
  • Whole grains
  • Milk and yogurt

In addition to incorporating healthy foods into your diet, try to cut back on the sugars, white starches (white flour, white potatoes, white rice), sugar-sweetened drinks (juices, sports drinks, sodas), and processed foods.

Exercise is important for your overall health too. Some scientists believe that the increase in sedentary behavior among people young and old is also contributing the rise of type 2 diabetes. If you are having trouble fitting enough exercise into your life, try 6 Ways to Fit Exercise into your Daily Routine.

For more information on diabetes, visit the American Diabetes Association website. By gaining awareness of this disease, you can better protect your health and reduce your risk of having diabetes. Developing healthier lifestyle habits is well worth the effort!



This article was provided by the Salter School of Nursing and Allied Health in Manchester, NH. Find out more about entering a career in the nursing field by visiting us online.


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