Prevention and Proper Management of Diabetes
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Did you know nearly 29 million Americans have diabetes? As obesity numbers across the United States continue to increase, the number of people diagnosed with diabetes is rising as well.
An increased number of people are dealing with insulin and blood sugar problems. As a result, the amount of money spent on healthcare is escalating, along with the scope of secondary complications resulting from diabetes. Camron E. Nelson, MD, President and CEO of Cooper Clinic, discusses diabetes basics and the significant risks associated with the disease.
Fasting blood glucose tests are used to screen for diabetes. In other words, you must fast for 12 hours and then your blood sugar is tested. According to the American Diabetic Association guidelines, your fasting blood sugar should be below 100. It is important to note that one single reading does not necessarily show you the whole picture. However, if your fasting blood sugar is elevated on multiple occasions, further testing including a blood sample two hours after eating and a hemoglobin A1c (Hgb A1c) should be performed.
The hemoglobin A1c test is a powerful method to evaluate one’s insulin regulatory system and tendency to develop diabetes. The test provides a rough index of your average blood sugar over the prior 90 days. Many physicians use this test to detect prediabetes. A normal Hgb A1c is less than 5.7 percent, and diabetic is considered 6.5 percent and above. Any number between 5.7 and 6.5 is considered prediabetes. The hemoglobin A1c test is included in the lab work performed as a part of Cooper Clinic's comprehensive preventive exam.
When you have prediabetes, your insulin regulatory system is not functioning properly, but you do not yet meet the criteria for diabetes. In this pre-diabetic stage, your body’s organs begin to experience the adverse effects of an elevated blood sugar. Many people do not realize damage is being done even in this stage, before diabetes is officially diagnosed.
With pre-diabetic patients, physicians encourage lifestyle modification as the mainstay of treatment. As with type 2 diabetes, weight loss, exercise and controlling carbohydrate and sugar intake will help to control the pre-diabetic state. By changing these behaviors, you can help prevent the development of full-fledged diabetes. In some cases, medication (such as Metformin) may be prescribed to assist the insulin regulatory system.
Type 2 Diabetes
The most prevalent form of diabetes is type 2 diabetes. This form is insidious and is induced by behavior, weight and diet. This type of diabetes is often detected at the time of an annual physical exam with routine blood work. Most patients are asymptomatic and unaware of the multiple health risks associated with diabetes.
If the case is severe, people who have type 2 diabetes may experience frequent urination and thirst, along with a decrease in energy level. If diabetes is untreated, your body’s major organ systems will suffer, including the heart, the nervous system, eyes and kidneys. When uncontrolled, you can develop:
- Cardiovascular disease. Diabetic complications dramatically increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. Individuals with diabetes have the same risk of a heart attack as a non-diabetic patient who has previously had a heart attack.
- Retinal damage. Diabetics often end up with vision problems and, ultimately, loss of vision.
- Kidney failure. The kidneys are used to excrete poisons out of our system. If renal failure is untreated, you can become dependent on dialysis to remove these toxins from your body.
- Peripheral neuropathy. People with peripheral neuropathy experience numbness in the hands feet due to poor circulation.
Most type 2 diabetes can be controlled by lifestyle modification, such as exercise, weight loss and dietary control. Prescription medications, such as Metformin and others are also commonly prescribed to people with type 2 diabetes to decrease their risk of secondary disease complications.
Type 1 Diabetes
According to the American Diabetic Association, only five percent of people with diabetes have type 1 diabetes. The body cannot produce insulin on its own, so blood sugar is controlled through an insulin pump or insulin injections administered seeral times each day. Type 1 diabetes is often diagnosed in the early teenage years.
To control your blood sugar level, follow these tips to help prevent diabetes:
- Eat more for less. Volumize meals and snacks by including more "bulk" for fewer calories. Try to balance out your plate with more veggies and smaller portions of starches. Aim for a two to one ratio of veggies to starches. For example, two cups of broccoli and carrots to one cup of brown rice.
- Avoid sweets and excessive carbohydrates. Foods such as white breads and pastas, sugar and processed foods are big drivers of sugar spikes in the body.
- Eliminate sugary drinks. The calories and simple sugar in soft drinks wreak havoc on the insulin regulatory system. You should avoid drinking soft drinks and other sugary drinks.
- Exercise. Physical activity has many benefits and is a great tool for weight loss and maintenance, which is critical in the prevention of diabetes and its complications.
- Understand your numbers. It is important to know your numbers. Do not focus only on your blood sugar level; understand the risks associated with your cholesterol, blood pressure and weight as well.
- Know your family history. There is a hereditary component with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. As you age, your insulin regulatory system does not function as it did when you were younger, which can put you at risk for type 2 diabetes. When you add weight, a sedentary lifestyle and diet indiscretion on top of genetic tendencies, people are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes is a bigger problem than the general population realizes. Talk with your physician about your risks for diabetes and develop an action plan to decrease your risk of developing this devastating disease.
For more information about Cooper Clinic or to schedule an appointment for a comprehensive physical exam, call 972.560.2667.
Article provided by Cooper Aerobics Marketing and Communications