Submitted by Alicia DeRuscio, B.S.
Community Education Assistant
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), over 30 million Americans have diabetes with 1.5 million Americans newly diagnosed every year.
What is diabetes?
The NIDDK defines diabetes as a chronic health condition that occurs when blood glucose levels, or blood sugar, get too high. When you eat, your digestive system breaks down much of your food into glucose. Glucose is then absorbed into your blood and eventually used as energy.
However, in order for your cells to absorb glucose they must be supplied with a hormone called insulin. Insulin acts as a key to “unlock” the cells and allow glucose to enter. When the body doesn’t have enough insulin or cannot use the insulin properly, glucose is unable to enter your cells and remains in your blood. This lack of insulin results in diabetes.
Over time, diabetes can cause major health problems including heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and more. In light of November being ‘American Diabetes Month,’ it’s important to educate yourself on the different types of diabetes, the risk factors, and the steps you can take in preventing diabetes.
Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes
The American Heart Association classifies diabetes into two main forms: type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. According to the NIDDK, if you have type 1 diabetes your body does not make insulin on its own. Therefore, you must take insulin every day.
If you have type 2 diabetes your body either does not make insulin properly or does not use the insulin that is made properly. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes and can usually be managed through diet and exercise.
Other forms of diabetes include gestational diabetes, monogenic diabetes and cystic fibrosis–related diabetes.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases lists several risk factors for developing diabetes including:
- Being 45 years of age or older
- Having a family history of diabetes
- Being overweight
- Lack of physical activity
- Other health problems such as high blood pressure
In order to reduce your risk for developing diabetes, the American Heart Association recommends managing weight by consuming a heart–healthy diet that includes all five food groups and limits saturated fat, trans fat, salt and added sugars.
Aim to get at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week at a moderate intensity. Moderate intensity activities may include brisk walking, light bicycling, or water aerobics
Other preventative measures include minimizing alcohol consumption, quitting smoking, lowering blood pressure and taking medications as prescribed by your healthcare provider.
HealthLink currently offers a monthly ‘Diabetes Discussion.’ These free educational sessions are for anyone with diabetes, their family members and caregivers. A new topic will be discussed each month focusing on strategies to assist with managing this chronic condition.
For more information on diabetes, talk to your healthcare provider or call HealthLink Littauer at 518-736-1120. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our wellness center on 2 Colonial Court in downtown Johnstown. We’re your community health & wellness service of Nathan Littauer Hospital and Nursing Home.