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November is National Diabetes Awareness Month

What is diabetes?

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) defines diabetes as “a group of diseases characterized by high blood glucose levels that result from the defects in the body’s ability to produce and/or use insulin”. In more basic terms, diabetes is when the human body cannot properly create or store blood sugar. The full length name of the disease is “diabetes mellitus", and it occurs in several different forms, all of which are chronic. The three main categories are Type 1, Type 2, and Gestational Diabetes, and each of these is described in further depth below.

The Community Health Center, Inc. is committed to offering diabetes education, care, and screening to its patient community, and the month of November allows the health center to further focus its efforts on raising awareness about this increasingly common disease. Seeing as a diabetic’s diet has a significant impact on their handling of the disease, CHC, Inc. works to help patients with any form of diabetes to manage what they eat and when they eat it. The Community Health Center, Inc. has its own dental department, which is both important and convenient for diabetic patients, and also has a Diabetic Retinopathy Program, which provides screening for individuals who might not generally have access to such preventative testing. Many people enjoy very successful lives while managing diabetes, and CHC, Inc. strives to make this a reality for more patients every day.

Type 1 — In this form of diabetes, the body is incapable of producing insulin. Formerly known as juvenile diabetes, Type 1 diabetes is frequently diagnosed in children and young adults. Only 5% of diabetics are Type 1, and though insulin is essential to turning starches, sugars, and foods into energy, there are many treatments available to those battling this type of the disease. (ADA)

Type 2 — The majority of diabetics have this form of the disease, and millions more people are at a high risk of being diagnosed. Type 2 diabetes is when the body cannot create enough insulin or when cells fail to detect that there is insulin to be utilized. Demographics that are particularly at risk include African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, other Pacific Islanders, and the elderly population. (ADA)

Gestational — It is not uncommon for women to be diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes about 5 months into pregnancy. A significant difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes and the Gestational version is that the latter is not necessarily chronic. Women may have diabetic symptoms while pregnant, and a diagnosis of this form of the disease is a strong recommendation that women closely monitor their blood sugar levels both before and after giving birth. (ADA)

Quick Facts

  • Almost 26 million American children and adults have diabetes. That is 8.3% of our total population. (ADA)
  • Additionally, 79 million Americans have prediabetes and are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. (ADA)
  • Nearly 2 million people aged 20 and older are diagnosed with diabetes every year. (ADA)
  • As of 2007, diabetes was the leading cause of blindness and kidney failure in the U.S. (CDC)

Important Dietary Considerations

As discussed briefly above, managing one’s diet is critical to living with diabetes. Below are some useful tips on how to eat good-tasting foods that will help balance your blood sugar levels…

  • People with diabetes should have less than 2,300mg of sodium every day, and those with hypertension should limit intake to 1,500mg. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, dried beans, peas, and legumes, and unsalted nuts to keep salt levels down. Avoid canned foods as they are often high in sodium and opt for items that say “no salt added” or “reduced salt”.
  • Meats cannot raise blood glucose levels but eating a serving of a lean meat – whether it be chicken, fish, or steak – in most meals helps maintain a proportionate diet.
  • You can still have dessert if you are diabetic, but portion size is key. Sugar can and will raise glucose levels so you must be very conscious of how much pie, ice cream, or cake you enjoy. (ADA)

Helpful Links on Diabetes