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
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
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
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
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.