diabetes – World Diabetes Day

World Diabetes Day

November 14th is a special day. It marks World Diabetes Day, part of November’s National Diabetes Month! Diabetes may be casually woven into conversation, but its seriousness as a disease is often masked. The CDC estimates that about 30.3 million Americans have diabetes. That’s almost 10% of the population! Not only that, but 84.1 million Americans have prediabetes. Prediabetes is when our blood sugar is higher than normal levels, but not yet in the diabetes range. Checking your sugar can help you understand where your levels are and how you can steady them if you are at risk.

diabetes 1

There are two types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. Type 2 is the most common form and is more often diagnosed. With Type 2 diabetes, your body fails to use insulin properly. Insulin’s primary function is to regulate our blood glucose levels. When the body doesn’t make it as quickly as before, these levels go up, leading to diabetes. Over time, untreated, these high sugar levels can harm your eyes, nerves, kidneys, and heart. Diabetes affects millions of Americans every day. What are the culprits and how can we prevent and treat them?

What causes Type 2 diabetes?

Sugared drinks, like regular soda and fruit punch, are jam-packed with sugar, even if they have the words “natural flavors” or “lower sugar.” Checking sugar content in the foods we consume daily is an important way to stay healthy. As with all things, moderation is key. Those with diabetes shouldn’t have to eliminate starchy foods and sugars from their diets, but portion size is critical.

Understanding carbohydrates is also important, as carbs majorly affect our blood glucose levels. How many carbohydrates per day are considered “healthy?” First, try calculating how many grams of carbohydrates you eat per day based on your usual diet (good or bad!). Tracking this information can help provide you with insight on how to handle your carb intake. Many of the foods we eat daily have a lot of carbohydrates, like rice, pasta, cereal, bread, starches, fruit, dairy products, beans, and most processed foods (sodas, candies, snack foods).

diabetes 2

No one expects us to cut all of these foods from our diets in one fell swoop! Moderation, however, can greatly assist in lowering blood sugar. Use food labels and free tracking apps (such as MyFitnessPal or Carb Manager) to keep track of your daily diet. There are different types of carbs: starches, sugars, and fiber. Pay close attention to the “total carbohydrate” portion of nutrition labels if you are diligently carb-counting!

Do you need help?

It is important to keep in mind that sugar and weight do not necessarily cause diabetes; genetics, age, and lifestyle factors can also affect risk. If you feel that you are at risk for prediabetes or diabetes based on your lifestyle factors, visit with a doctor to see how you can live a healthier life.

diabetes 3

The Harrisburg Area YMCA’s Center for Healthy Living works to prevent or delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes by providing the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program within our communities. The YDPP is offered at low to no cost to participants. In YDPP, a trained lifestyle coach will introduce topics in a supportive, small-group environment and encourage as they explore how healthy eating, physical activity, behavior changes, and weight loss can help them reduce their risk of developing diabetes. The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program uses a CDC-approved curriculum and is part of the CDC-led National Diabetes Prevention Program. Could you have prediabetes? Find out here.

This World Diabetes Day and National Diabetes Month, take charge of your health!



Madeline Kelly, Digital Communications Coordinator

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