Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States but unlike many other leading causes of death, type II diabetes (type you are not born with) is highly preventable and accounts for 90-95% of diagnosed cases.
Science: The short explanation of science behind the disease is when you eat carbohydrates the body breaks it down into a sugar called glucose. The hormone insulin is used to transport the glucose where the body needs it to go. Those with diabetes have problems with the hormone insulin working properly, either from the body’s cells no longer being able to use insulin or the body has stopped producing insulin. The harmful effect of insulin resistance is the increased level of glucose (sugar) in the blood since it has nowhere to go.
What is so scary about high levels of sugar in the blood? Frequent high levels can cause permeant damage to nerves, blood vessels and even organs.
Important things everyone should know:
What are carbohydrates? Carbohydrates are a fuel source for the body and come from many sources from bread, soda, sweets, popcorn, legumes, fruits and even starchy vegetables. The more sugar and less fiber contained in carbohydrates will escalate blood sugar higher and at a faster rate.
Symptoms: urinating often, excessive thirst, excessive hunger, blurry vision, extreme fatigue, slow wound healing, tingling/numbness in hands or feet.
Pre-diabetes? You can be tested to see if you are on track to developing the disease by testing your blood glucose levels. Pre-diabetes should be taken as wake-up call to create lifestyle changes for prevention of the disease. A shocking statistic is 7.2 million people with diabetes are undiagnosed.
Prevention? Healthy lifestyle factors such as maintaining a healthy weight and performing physical activity is the main advice for prevention. Another important factor is making important choices when choosing what carbohydrates to eat. Choose carbohydrates with whole grains and/or plenty of fiber will not cause frequent spikes in blood sugar. Some simple swaps for improvement include:
- Make a fruit and vegetable smoothie instead of a soda.
- Use bread and pastas made from whole grains.
- Oatmeal with fruit instead of a pastry for breakfast.
Also always watch for hidden sugars! Some food items you do not think include a lot of sugar do so pay attention to labels. Salad dressings, yogurts and condiments are examples of foods that can easily pack in sugar. On the food label below the amount of carbohydrates you will find the amount of sugar so watch out for the sugar instead of just looking at the carbohydrates.
Learn more about diabetes by checking out the American Diabetes Association at diabetes.org or calling 1-800-DIABETES during normal business hours.
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