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Stop Diabetes Before It Ever Starts

Chances are, you may know someone living with diabetes. The latest National Diabetes Statistics Report, published by the CDC, revealed that 37.3 million Americans, or 11% of the population, have been diagnosed with the disease. Perhaps even more shocking, an estimated 96 million U.S. adults (38%) are living with prediabetes. 

As of 2019, diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, with more than 280,000 lives lost. Total medical costs and costs from lost productivity, unemployment, and premature mortality totaled $327 billion. 

Yet, controlling it is relatively easy. Type 2 diabetes — the most common form of diabetes — is often the result of the poor choices we make. Type 1 diabetes — the body’s inability to make insulin — is genetic. In this blog, we will focus on the diabetes we can control. 

Person over a Scale

Facts and Figures

More than 37 million people, or 11.3% of the U.S. population, have diabetes. More than 28.5 million of those are adults. Another 200,000 are adolescents and children. More than 8.5 million, or 23% of adults with diabetes, are undiagnosed. 

People with elevated blood sugar, but not high enough to have diabetes, have prediabetes. It affects 96 million people over the age of 18, or 38% of the adult population in the U.S. More than 26 million people over the age of 65, or 48.8% of that population, have prediabetes. 

Anywhere from 15% to 30% of people with prediabetes will develop diabetes in as little as five years if they don’t get active or drop some weight. Most people with type 2 diabetes had prediabetes first. 

Some people will have prediabetes for years but never have any clear symptoms until it turns into type 2 diabetes. Get your blood sugar tested if you have any of these risk factors: 

  • Overweight 

  • High blood pressure 

  • Have a low level of “good” cholesterol 

  • 45 years old or older 

  • Have a history of heart disease or stroke 

  • Are depressed 

  • Smoke 

  • Parent or sibling has type 2 diabetes 

  • Physically active less than three times a week 

  • Had gestational diabetes while pregnant 

  • Gave birth to a baby weighing more than nine pounds 

  • Have polycystic ovary syndrome which makes it difficult to get pregnant 

Race and ethnicity can also be a factor with African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, Pacific Islanders, and some Asian Americans at higher risk. 

Family Playing at the Beach

How to Stop Diabetes 

Too many people don’t take diabetes seriously. Yet, two out of three people with diabetes will die from a heart attack or stroke. 

You don’t have to succumb to a diabetes diagnosis, however. Just a few steps will help put you on a path that could keep you out of diabetes’ clutches. 

  • Drop the extra weight. You don’t need to do anything dramatic. Your doctor can help you set realistic goals of losing a pound or two a week with changes to your diet. The American Diabetes Association recommends people with prediabetes lose 7% to 10% of body weight to stop the onset of diabetes. 

  • Get active. Being active helps you lose weight. It will help lower your blood sugar. It can boost your sensitivity to insulin which helps control blood sugar. Try for 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise a day, like brisk walking, biking, or swimming. Also, don’t sit for extended periods of time. 

  • Eat fiber-rich foods. They fill you up, which keeps you from snacking and promotes weight loss. It also slows your body’s ability to absorb sugar and fat. Eat fruits and vegetables like apples, tomatoes, oranges, bananas, and peppers. Eat leafy greens, broccoli, and cauliflower. Add beans, chickpeas, and lentils to your diet. Whole grains like whole-wheat pasta and bread, whole-grain rice, quinoa, and whole oats are beneficial. 

  • Eat healthy fats. These unsaturated fats promote good heart health. 

  • Eat healthy fats. These unsaturated fats promote good heart health. 

    • Canola, cottonseed, olive, and sunflower oil 

    • Almonds, flaxseed, peanuts, and pumpkin seeds

    • Fatty fish like cod, mackerel, salmon, sardines, and tuna;

    Limit dairy to low-fat and replace beef with lean chicken and pork. 

  • Avoid fad diets. You need to make lasting choices. Fad diets may help you drop weight, but you need to change your eating habits not just now, but for the future. Think about dividing your plate so you have one half covered with fruits and non-starchy vegetables, one fourth covered in whole grains, and one fourth with protein. 

We're Here to Help

AltaMed understands that lifestyle changes can be difficult. We help support you with several programs to keep you fit and help you take control of your diabetes or keep you from ever getting it. 

  • STOMP — Family Health and Fitness Program — STOMP is Solutions & Treatment to Obesity Management and Prevention. This fun, interactive childhood healthy weight program helps kids and their families develop healthy habits around nutrition, fitness, stress management, and more – to help them grow healthy for life. STOMP is a full year of hands-on support that includes visits with doctors, nutritionists, fitness instructors, and other health professionals. It’s available for free for qualifying AltaMed members and their families. Locations include Anaheim (714) 678-2143, Boyle Heights (323) 307-0479, El Monte (626) 582-1428, Santa Ana (714) 919-0280, and Huntington Beach (714) 375-2261

  • Diabetes Prevention Program — This year-long program helps you set goals and overcome challenges with support from a trained wellness coach and a registered dietician. It is available at our Los Angeles and Orange County locations to AltaMed patients over the age of 17. Call (323) 558-7606 for more information or email

  • Diabetes Management Program — This six-class educational program is available to diabetes patients 18 and older. Participants work with a Health Educator to develop practical skills to help manage their diabetes, prevent complications, and improve quality of life.

  • Diabetes Group Visits — Learning how to manage your type 2 diabetes successfully can help you lead a long and normal life. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been diagnosed recently or had it for a while. The program uses evidence-based principles and focuses on nutrition, activity, medication compliance, and self-care. The goal is to help participants lower their HbA1c scores and keep them in the healthy range. You will meet with a team of professionals, including a doctor and pharmacist, for six weeks. It’s a friendly and welcoming environment where you can get to know others with diabetes and share your success. It is available at all Los Angeles and Orange County locations to AltaMed patients over 18 years old. Call (323) 558-7606 for more information. 

  • Community Health Specialist Support — For patients with diabetes who are looking for additional help, AltaMed Community Health Specialists (CHS) can help provide medication and health appointment coordination, as well as assist with securing financial resources. AltaMed CHS will work with you and your medical team to achieve your individual health goals and improve overall care. 

  • Nutrition Counseling — A balanced diet is essential for people with diabetes. Work with an AltaMed Registered Dietitian (RD) to develop personalized meal plans that will create better eating habits and a healthier lifestyle. This service is open to patients of all ages.

Get started with AltaMed

See how AltaMed Health Services can help your family grow healthy.

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Diabetes image

Busting the Myths Around Diabetes

March 22 is the American Diabetes Association’s Diabetes Alert Day®. In the spirit of raising awareness, we invite you to challenge what you think you know about the disease!

Myth: Diabetes is contagious, like a cold or the flu

Couple Sneezing

Fortunately, this myth doesn’t hold a shred of truth! There’s no way to “transmit” diabetes, andbeing close to someone who has it does not increase your risk.

However, some diabetes risks may be genetic and passed through a family. But these risks may not be very strong. For example, in cases of identical twins who share 100% of the same genes, if one twin has diabetes, there’s only about a 50% chance the other twin will have it, too.

Myth: There’s only one kind of diabetes

Man Checking His Glucosa Levels

Like many people, you probably hear the word ‘diabetes’ and think of people who have to do the finger prick and inject themselves with insulin every day. That’s only part of the story.

There’s type 1 diabetes, which used to be called youth-onset diabetes. People have type 1 diabetes because their immune system attacks the cells that produce insulin. This condition usually appears in childhood, and people who have it need to give themselves insulin injections every day in order to control their blood sugar levels.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common kind, affecting 25 million Americans. With type 2 diabetes, the body produces insulin, but it’s either not enough or some of the body’s cells can’t process it properly. It’s milder than type 1 but can still cause significant problems if not identified and treated.

Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that affects pregnant women. In some cases, gestational diabetes may resolve itself after pregnancy, but it does put women at greater risk for developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

There’s another category known as prediabetes. It means you don’t yet have diabetes but your blood sugar is higher than normal. By making some healthy lifestyle changes, it is possible to reduce your risk so that you never develop diabetes.

Myth: When you have diabetes, you know it

Man Wiping His Sweat

Right now, about one in four people who have diabetes don’t even know they have it. Less than 12% of those with prediabetes are aware of it, because it often has no symptoms. So no, many of those who have the disease don’t have a clue.

Myth: Anyone who has diabetes needs insulin shots and finger prick tests every day

Woman Applying Insulin to Herself

For those with type 1 or more advanced cases of type 2 diabetes, managing their condition can require daily insulin injections and blood sugar testing. But for many of those with type 2 or those who’ve been identified as prediabetic, treatment is often as simple as daily, healthy living.

Myth: Once you’re diabetic, no more cake or candy for you

Happy Family Celebrating

The key to managing diabetes successfully is sticking to a healthy eating plan with a wide variety of foods – but many of those foods, especially those high in sugar, should be enjoyed in moderation. Depending on the severity of the disease and other health factors, many diabetes sufferers are able to indulge in sweet treats on an occasional basis (which is actually a great recommendation for most of us).

Myth: Only overweight people have diabetes

Woman Exercising in a Gym

Being overweight is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, but it’s not the only factor. There are many people at a normal weight who have diabetes. And the opposite is also true: there are many overweight people who never develop diabetes.

Myth: More than anything, diabetes is just a big inconvenience

Nurse Pushing a Senior in a Wheel Chair

Left unmanaged, diabetes can lead to heart disease, stroke, blindness, and nerve damage. In extreme cases, it can require the amputation of the feet, and lead to coma or even death. So if you’re diagnosed and worry about the hassle of checking your blood sugar and changing your diet, it’s a small price to pay to live a long and healthy life!

Myth: Living a healthy lifestyle is difficult and expensive

Family Posing for a Photograph in the Park

AltaMed is here to support your family and your health goals. In addition to giving you tips on how you can have fun while staying active all year long and eat healthier versions of the food you love, AltaMed has friendly doctors that can make personalized recommendations just for you. By making a few little changes over time, you can maintain a healthy weight, cut your risk for diabetes, and grow healthy!

If you’ve been diagnosed as having prediabetes or diabetes, think of AltaMed as your one-stop health management shop, with everything you need to be your healthiest you. 

We surround you with care that includes:

  • Complete medical treatment and services for diabetes management, including A1C testing, eye and foot exams, and dental checkups.
  • Pharmacy services to help you stay on track with your prescriptions and your testing.
  • One-on-one health education – you may even be qualified to work with a registered dietician.
  • We also have additional services that address your mental health, home care, and more.

Call us today at 888-499-9303 and let’s talk about keeping you healthy.

National Diabetes Month

It’s National Diabetes Awareness Month!

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month and we want to provide the tools you need to decrease your risk of diabetes or help you manage your diabetes to ensure a healthy life.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 29 million people in the United States have diabetes, but one out of every four don’t know they have it. Additionally, Latinos, African Americans, Native Americans, and Pacific Islanders are at higher risk for type 2 diabetes. Though there isn’t a cure for diabetes, what you do each day will make a huge difference in your life.

About 90 percent of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. With type 2 diabetes, your body either fights the effects of insulin or doesn’t provide enough insulin to your body, making it hard to maintain a normal glucose level. Unfortunately, symptoms for type 2 diabetes develop slowly, so it may be hard to determine whether or not you have it right away. In fact, you can have type 2 diabetes for years and not know.

Here are a few warning signs you can look for:

  • Increased thirst and frequent urination
  • Increased hunger
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow-healing sores or frequent infections
  • Areas of darkened skin

Don’t Let Your Diabetes Take Over

If you are diagnosed with diabetes, don’t let it discourage you from living a happy and healthy life. Learning how to take care of your diabetes starts the minute you are diagnosed. As long as you are aware and educated, you’re on your way to effectively managing your health.

Here are a few reminders that may help you manage your diabetes successfully:

  • Eat healthy: Consume more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Maintain a diet that consists of less sugar and salt. It’s also important to eat three meals a day at a regular mealtime.
  • Exercise frequently: Try to stay physically active by working out for 10 to 30 minutes each day. Exercise will not only make you feel better, but will make it easier to control your diabetes.
  • Take your medication: Take your medication as prescribed by your doctor. It may help keep blood sugar levels normal.
  • Monitor your blood sugar: Track your blood sugar regularly to understand how different foods, activities and medicine affect your blood sugar levels and keep a log to track any changes.

Stop Diabetes Before It Ever Starts