What do You Know about Diabetes?

Did you know more than 29 million Americans have diabetes with 1 in 4 not realizing they have it? An additional 86 million adults in America (more than 1 in 3) have pre-diabetes which could turn into Type II diabetes without lifestyle intervention.

Diabetes is a disease in which the body has decreased ability to absorb glucose out of the blood stream. This could either be because the body does not produce any insulin, a hormone which allows the uptake of glucose into the cells (Type I), or because the cells in the body have become resistant to insulin (Type II). As a result, the amount of glucose in the blood stream becomes high causing damage to the body which can lead to many negative health consequences. In pre-diabetes, blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough that the person is considered type two diabetic.

Managing the appropriate blood glucose levels for people with diabetes begins with understanding what a carbohydrate is. Carbohydrates include grains (pasta, bread, rice, oats), starchy vegetables (corn, peas, potatoes, lima beans), dried beans, lentils, naturally occur sugar (fruit and milk), and added sugars (candies, cookies, syrups).

Consumption of carbohydrates should be spaced evenly throughout the day and should ideally be eaten with other foods that contain protein and/or a healthy source of fat. The protein and fat will slow down the absorption of the sugar into the blood stream and therefore the blood glucose levels will not rise as high. Regular exercise is also very important in managing diabetes because it will lower blood glucose levels. Adults should get anywhere from 2 ½ - 5 hours of physical activity each week.

Because one fourth of those with diabetes do not realize they have it, it is important to know how to recognize it. Common signs and symptoms which may indicate diabetes include increased thirst, excessive urination, increased appetite, fatigue, unintended weight loss, and blurred vision. If you notice any of these signs in yourself or someone you know, it is very important to visit a doctor right away for blood testing to determine if it is diabetes.

For more information on diabetes, or to take the quiz to see if you are at risk for developing diabetes visit http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes.

by Melinda Frederick, 2014 dietetics intern