Busting the Myths Around Diabetes

March 05, 2019

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 Sharing a Dessert

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

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.

 

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Get the Basics About Diabetes Prevention

May 01, 2019

Did you know that one out of every three people in the United States has diabetes, pre-diabetes, or dangerous levels of insulin resistance? You can combat diabetes or avoid it all together by living a healthy lifestyle and getting routine checkups. Learn how to stay healthy and check your risks. 

What is Diabetes? 
Diabetes is a disease that weakens your body’s ability to convert sugar into energy. Normally, your pancreas produces a hormone called insulin to help stabilize the amount of sugar in your blood. When someone has diabetes, their body can’t make enough insulin or the body is no longer responsive to the insulin made, which leads to a dangerous amount of sugar in the bloodstream. As a result, people with diabetes are at greater risk of heart disease, kidney failure, stroke, and vision loss. 

These are the most common types of diabetes:

Type 1 Diabetes is more serious (and rare):

  • Typically develops during childhood but can begin at any age
  • Can’t be cured or prevented
  •  Requires insulin injections, usually at every meal or snack 
  • Also requires frequent checking of blood sugar levels 


Type 2 Diabetes is preventable but still serious (and is very common):

  • Is most common in adults over the age of 45, but now we are starting to see it at younger ages.
  •  Is related to obesity/overweight, poor diet, lack of physical activity, and family history
  • Usually requires oral medication or a daily insulin injection 
  • Can be cured with a healthy lifestyle!


Stay Proactive, Stay Healthy!
Whether you’ve been told you’re pre-diabetic or you’re managing diabetes, a healthy lifestyle will help prevent complications and reduce the impact the disease can have on your life – and a healthy lifestyle can also help you prevent diabetes in the first place. Here are some ways to lower your risks and manage your long-term health. 
 

1.    Get Tested Regularly 
doctor and patient

Blood sugar and cholesterol checks, kidney tests, foot and eye exams, and blood pressure screenings can help prevent or delay health complications. 
 

2.    Stay Active
family at park

Besides helping you keep your risks in check, regular exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight and fight/manage stress.  Find something you enjoy and start small: go for a brisk walk, dance along to music, garden, take fitness classes, or even follow an exercise video. If you’ve never exercised before, these tips can give you a healthy head start.

If you have diabetes, carry a healthy snack in case your blood sugar drops, and be sure to check your blood sugar levels before and after you exercise. 
 

3.    Maintain a Healthy Diet
healthy cooking
Eating well is important for diabetes prevention and control. Choosing a variety of healthy foods gives your body the nutrition and energy it needs.

  • Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. 
  • Whenever possible swap fried for grilled foods. 
  • Drink water instead of sweetened or sugary beverages (like soda, diet soda and juice).
  • Learn which foods are high in carbohydrates (e.g. tortillas, potatoes, and rice) so that you can eat these in moderation.
  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Avoid smoking.

You should also manage your meal portions and monitor your sugar levels. You may need to work with your doctor and/or dietitian to create a meal plan that works for you.


4.    Look for Signs and Take Action
magnifying glass

If you start to experience any of these symptoms, see your doctor immediately.  

  • Being constantly thirsty or hungry all the time with no explanation can be a sign of diabetes. 
  • Frequent infections and slow-healing cuts are red flags that you possibly have a condition affecting your immune system, such as diabetes.
  •  Tingling in your hands and feet may be a sign of diabetes-related poor blood flow and of nerve damage. If you act early, the effects may only be temporary.
  • Changes in vision, including not being able to focus, or blurred vision can be a sign of diabetes. If you have diabetes, make it a point to get your vision checked regularly and let your doctor know your condition.  


How AltaMed Can Help if You Have Diabetes
At AltaMed, we offer a wide range of onsite services, including blood sugar testing, retinal eye exams, and free health education classes. AltaMed pharmacists can help you manage your medications. AltaMed registered dietitians can help you with healthy eating habits. To learn more, or to make an appointment, call us at (888) 499-9303

6 Top Healthy Living Apps for Your Physical & Mental Well-Being

March 01, 2019

Looking to improve your health? Join the club! Actually, with today’s health apps, you don’t need to. There are more than 318,000 health apps available to help you manage your health. From making smart food choices to exercising, and getting better sleep, these apps help turn health goals into healthy habits. So, grab your water bottle and your smartphone, and check out these six apps that can help you take control of your health.


Omada Health
Available for iOS and Android; Price: free for AltaMed Patients in Orange County
Offers Spanish language option
AltaMed people doing thai chi

Omada was created to help users lose weight and lower their risks of getting diabetes and heart disease. Omada provides the tools and support you need to succeed by helping you break up your health goals into small, easy steps. The app allows you to track your meals and activity/exercise, offers lessons on nutrition and stress, and connects you with a health coach to support and guide your progress. Plus, Omada gives AltaMed patients a valuable freebie: a smart scale that connects to the app. 


MapMyWalk
Available for iOS, Android & Samsung; Price: $0
Offers Spanish language option
AltaMed two women waling up the stairs

Using your phone’s built-in GPS, MapMyWalk tracks your daily walks and uses Google Maps to show you your route. It also collects and shows you your speed, distance, and calories burned. Receive audio updates on how you are doing while you walk, and use the website to see your history, make friends, join groups, and see how your friends are doing. 


Pillow (Sleep Tracker)
Available for iOS; Price: $0, one-time fee of $4.99 to unlock premium features
Offers Spanish language option
AltaMed older woman and husband sleeping

This easy-to-use app provides detailed information about your sleep cycle to help you get more restful sleep. Simply place your phone on your mattress near your pillow while you sleep and Pillow will track your activity during the night. You can also analyze and record your sleep, heart rate, and audio events such as snoring, sleep talking, or sleep apnea. 

Connect to Apple’s Health app to compare your sleep to other health measurements. Pillow’s intelligent alarm clock helps you wake up rested by waking you at the lightest sleep stage. The app comes with features that let you track your mood during the day, and gives you personalized recommendations. Premium features include unlimited access to your sleep history, nap modes, access to a large library of wake-up and sleep-aid programs and melodies, and the ability to export and download your data to use with other programs.  


Fooducate (Nutrition & Health Tracker)
Available for iOS; Price: $0, various premium levels available starting at $1.99
AltaMed woman shopping for fruit

Not only does Fooducate let you track the foods you eat each day, but it educates you on healthy eating choices. The Fooducate app lets you input the foods you eat to learn about their nutritional value by scanning a barcode or searching the extensive database. The app also offers a daily stream of tips and articles to help motivate you on your food journey. Look through the archive of foods, check for top graded food choices, and set individual goals beyond weight loss. Fooducate can even send you a reminder on your phone to use it while you are shopping at the supermarket.


Instant Heart Rate+ HR Monitor
Available for iOS, Android & Windows Phone; Price: $4.99, various premium levels available starting at $3.99
Offers Spanish language option
AltaMed heart app

Whether you’re just starting an exercise program or you’ve worked out for years, your heart rate is a good indicator of your fitness level. This straightforward heart rate app lets you discover your heart rate in 10 seconds or less. Just place the tip of your index finger on your phone’s camera and the app will detect color changes in your finger each time your heart beats. It then tells you your heart rate and puts the data in an easy-to-understand chart. Additional add-on features allow you to track heart health, access videos and motivational audio, and receive emails with tips on healthy living. Instant Heart Rate Monitor is used for research and trials by leading cardiologists, and is rated as the world’s best mobile heart rate measurement app. 


HabitList
Available for iOS; Price: $0, one-time fee of $4.99 to unlock premium features
AltaMed people high fiving

HabitList is designed to give you everything you need to set and reach your health goals, all wrapped up in a clear, direct format. Enter your goals and the app breaks everything down into clear steps by day and frequency to help you stay focused. The app helps you stay motivated by encouraging you to beat your own personal best at each repeated task, then rewarding you when you do. View trends over a period of time, create a flexible and personalized goal schedule, and easily check off your healthy to-do list. 


New to Physical Fitness? Start Here First.
At AltaMed, we love that there are so many tools to help make it fun and easy for people to work on their health goals. But you may have different health needs, and not every activity will be right for you. If you’ve never exercised before or you have an existing health condition like diabetes or heart disease, talk to your doctor before you start a program. They can help you determine the best options for you. 

We don’t have an app for that, but we do have a handy doctor search tool to help you find a doctor near you.