November is Diabetes Awareness month and this is one that hits very close to home. For me, exercise and healthy choices is my only option…
When we talk about diabetes we are discussing the body’s ability to handle glucose. Glucose, aka blood sugar, is our body’s main fuel source. Glucose not only fuels the body, it feeds the brain! When we take in food, glucose enters our blood stream. When our blood sugar rises, the pancreas is told to release insulin. Insulin unlocks our cells so that the glucose hanging outside in our blood can enter. Any excess glucose is delivered to our muscles and liver for storage. When our blood sugar falls, the pancreas releases glucagon to unlock the liver so that glucose can be delivered back to our cells.
So what happens if we don’t make insulin? Type 1 diabetes.
What happens if our cells are picky about the insulin we produce? Type 2 diabetes.
What happens if we don’t make enough insulin and our cells are picky? Type 2 diabetes.
Based on National Diabetes Fact Sheet 2007, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Type 1 diabetes is normally seen in children and young adults. Type 2, 90%-95% of all diagnosed cases, is mostly seen in adults; however, the rate is increasing among children and in the majority of these cases the children are overweight or obese.
For people who have diabetes their bodies are unable to access glucose efficiently. Type 1 diabetics normally have to take insulin shots and Type 2 diabetics may have to take insulin or other oral drugs according to their physician. Both types have to adhere to a diet that carefully measures carbohydrates consumed throughout the day; as well as, exercise with their physician’s approval.
What do diabetics eat? It isn’t as restrictive as most think. In fact, it is very similar to a healthy diet. A diet rich in vegetables, fruit and whole grains. The MayoClinic.com recommends, “foods that are high in nutrition and low in fat and calories – and fewer animal products and sweets.”
So no sweets? Not necessarily, diabetics have to remember to include sweets in their overall meal plans and make exchanges as necessary. The American Diabetes Association explains it best: “If you have diabetes, it doesn’t mean you will never have birthday cake or pumpkin pie again. With a little planning, you can have a small serving of your favorite dessert.”
Sweet but I don’t have diabetes?! There are 5.7 million undiagnosed cases and 57 million who have prediabetes. The American Diabetes Association defines prediabetes as “blood glucose levels that are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.” The good news is that there is still time for those with Prediabetes to prevent it from developing into Type 2.
The American Diabetes Association reviewed a study by Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) which “conclusively showed that people with prediabetes can prevent the development of type 2 diabetes by making changes in their diet and increasing their level of physical activity.”
Diabetes is the one of the top ten leading causes of death with a hefty price tag. The 2007 cost of diabetes in the United States was $174 billion! A person with diabetes will spend approximately 2x the amount in medical expenses than a person with out diabetes.
Eating healthy and exercising is my only option because diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2, is on both sides of my family.
So, if you can prevent Type 2 diabetes through nutrition and exercise, why wouldn’t you?
Healthy foods and exercise should be the natural choice for everybody, but unfortunately it isn’t. Quite honestly, they should start by only serving nutritious food in school, so that the children could learn early.
I completely agree! In my community, the school district has contracted with a vendor that provides fresh fruits and vegetables. Nutrition information is also available for the parents to review online.
It will be interesting to see if the House passes the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act this November. The bill not only provides more money for programs like WIC and National School Lunch, but also calls for the USDA to set new nutrition standards for all food served in schools, including vending machines. The new nutrition standards mostly call for reduced calories and fat — which is a step in the right direction.
On another note, I’m looking forward to the second season of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution as he helps families with their challenge to eat healthy. In his first season we learned that schools count “french fries” as a vegetable! And we also learned how it really is a community effort to make the changes we wish to see.