Diabetes Awareness Month
- About 422 million people worldwide have diabetes.
- 86 million of Americans are at risk for diabetes.
- More than 10 million patients are known to have diabetes. However, 5.4 million patients with the disease remain undiagnosed.
- Diabetes is the 7th cause of death.
As you can see from the stats above, diabetes has become the tsunami of chronic diseases that’s affecting everyone worldwide. This disease is prevalent in the Haitian community and the church community. The causes of diabetes are complex, but the rise is due in part of people who are overweight, including an increase in obesity, and in a widespread lack of physical activity.
WHAT IS DIABETES?
Diabetes is a disease in which the body is unable to properly use and store glucose. Glucose backs up in the bloodstream causing one’s blood glucose (sometimes referred to as blood sugar) to rise too high. There are two types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes (previously known as insulin-dependent or childhood onset diabetes) is characterized by a lack of insulin production. People with type 1 diabetes must take daily insulin injections to survive. This form of diabetes usually develops in children or young adults but can occur at any age. Type 2 diabetes (formerly called non-insulin-dependent or adult onset diabetes) is caused by the body’s ineffective use of insulin. It often results from excess body weight and physical inactivity. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form and usually occurs in people who are over 40, overweight, and have a family history of diabetes, although today it is increasingly occurring in younger people, particularly adolescents. The third type of diabetes is Gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes is common among pregnant women.
People who have one or more of the following risk factors should talk to their doctor about getting their blood sugar tested:
- Being overweight.
- Being 45 years or older.
- Having a family history of type 2 diabetes.
- Being physically inactive.
- Ever having gestational diabetes or giving birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds.
- Race and ethnicity- African Americans, Hispanics and Latinos, American Indians, Islanders, and some Asian Americans are at higher risk than whites to have diabetes.
HOW TO MANAGE YOUR DIABETES?
- Maintain a healthy body weight. Regular daily physical activity helps in weight control, improves insulin sensitivity and helps maintain muscle mass. Losing 5-10 percent of body weight has been shown to improve both insulin sensitivity and diabetes control.
- Moderate exercise for at least 30 minutes most days of the week has been associated with a reduction in risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Eat the right portions of healthy foods. I know that rice is a staple food in the Haitian culture, but if you have type 2 diabetes, you need to reduce your rice intake. Rice is very high in carbohydrates and sugar. Try to eat brown or black rice instead of white rice. You should eat ½ or 1 cup of rice instead of eating a plate full of rice. Other foods to avoid are bread, pasta, pizza, baked goods, corn syrup, and high sugary fruits. Also avoid starchy vegetables, such as corn, peas, potatoes, plantain, beans, and so on. The reason to avoid these foods is because people with diabetes do not easily metabolize carbohydrates.
- Follow a diabetes food plan. Consume at least 5-9 servings of low-sugar fruits, non-starchy vegetables, and healthy fats. Do not skip meals because your blood sugar may get too low. It may be better to eat several small meals during the day instead of one or two big meals.
- Take your medications. Take the medications your primary care doctor has prescribed regularly and as directed.
- Check your feet daily. Check your feet daily for cuts, blisters, red spots, swelling, numbness or pain.
- Have your eyes checked. Have your eyes checked as directed by your doctor. Uncontrolled diabetes may have negative effects on your vision.
- Check your blood glucose (sugar) level regularly and know your A1C. You should be checking your blood sugar levels daily and having regular A1C (glycated hemoglobin) tests completed by your doctor. A1C measures your average blood glucose control for the past 60-90 days.
- Keep daily records of your blood glucose levels. By keeping daily records of your blood sugar will help you to know how well you are managing your diabetes.
You can avoid the long-term problems or complications of diabetes by taking good care of yourself. Keep in mind that diabetes can be prevented and managed.
Global report on diabetes.World Health Organization, Geneva, 2016.
Projections of global mortality and burden of disease from 2002 to 2030. Mathers CD, Loncar D. PLoS Med, 2006, 3(11):e442.
Written by Dr. Mimi Cadet-Patterson