Mind and Body: November is National Diabetes Month

Published 9:08 am Thursday, November 1, 2018

There isn’t a cure yet for diabetes, but a healthy lifestyle can reduce its impact on your life. What you do every day makes the difference: eating a healthy diet, being physically active, taking medicines if prescribed and keeping health care appointments to stay on track.

The basics

More than 30 million people in the United States have diabetes, but one in four of them don’t know they have it.

There are three main types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes (diabetes while pregnant, which can put the pregnancy and baby at risk and lead to type 2 diabetes later).

With type 1 diabetes, your body can’t make insulin — a hormone that acts as a key to let blood sugar into cells for use as energy — so you need to take it every day. Type 1 diabetes is less common than type 2 diabetes; about 5 percent of the people who have diabetes have type 1. Currently, no one knows how to prevent type 1 diabetes.

Most people with diabetes — 9 out of 10 — have type 2 diabetes. With type 2 diabetes, your body doesn’t use insulin well and is unable to keep blood sugar at normal levels.

If you have any of the risk factors below, ask your doctor if they should test you for diabetes.

The sooner you find out, the sooner you can start making healthy changes that will benefit you now and in the future.

Type 2 diabetes risk factors include:

— Having pre-diabetes (blood sugar levels that are higher than average but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes).

— Being overweight.

— Being 45 years or older.

— Having a parent, brother, or sister with type 2 diabetes.

— Being physically active less than three times a week.

— Ever having gestational diabetes or giving birth to a baby who weighed more than nine pounds.

Race and ethnicity also matter: African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians/Alaska Natives, Pacific Islanders, and some Asian-Americans are at higher risk for type 2 diabetes.

You can lower your risk for developing type 2 diabetes by losing a small amount of weight if you’re overweight and getting regular physical activity. A small amount of weight loss means around 5 percent to 7 percent of your body weight, just 10 to 14 pounds for a 200-pound person. Regular physical activity means getting at least 150 minutes a week of brisk walking or similar exercise. That’s just 30 minutes a day, five days a week.

A doctor has diagnosed you with diabetes. Now what?

It’s a balancing act — food, activity, medicine, and blood sugar levels — but you can do it. Meeting with a diabetes educator is a great way to get support and guidance, including how to:

— Follow a healthy eating plan.

— Get physically active.

— Test your blood sugar.

— Give yourself insulin by syringe, pen, or pump, if needed.

— Monitor your feet (https://www.cdc.gov/features/diabetesfoothealth/index.html), skin, and eyes (https://www.cdc.gov/features/healthyvision/index.html) to catch problems early.

— Get diabetes supplies and store them according to package directions.

— Manage stress and deal with daily diabetes care.

Healthy Living with Diabetes Education Classes will begin Nov. 7 at the Clark County Health Department. Classes will meet on Wednesday evenings at 5:15 p.m. Nov. 7, 14, 28 and Dec. 5. To enroll, call or email Amy Williams, MS, RD, LD, at 859-744-4482 or amyw.williams@ky.gov.

Clark County Health Department provides programs for the entire family, including Smoking Cessation, WIC, HANDS, family planning, well child care/immunizations, and home health care. For more information, call 744-4482 or visit our website at www.clarkhealthdept.org. You can also “like” us on Facebook. Article information is taken from www.cdc.gov