My husband was diagnosed with diabetes a few years ago, my father has diabetes, and my husband’s mother and grandfather have and had diabetes. Diabetes is a disease that affects about 8.3% of the U.S. population – that’s about 25.8 million people each year. Without proper care and a tailored eating and exercise routine for someone with diabetes, the complications can be deadly.
Types of Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is generally diagnosed in earlier years, such as childhood and young adults and is the rarest form of diabetes. With this type, the body does not produce insulin, which is a hormone that is produced by the pancreas that converts starches, sugars, and other food into needed energy.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body does not use the produced insulin properly and is called insulin resistance. This is the most common type of diabetes. The body makes extra insulin in the beginning to make up for the body not using it correctly, but the pancreas can’t keep up over time to keep blood sugar levels normal.
Gestational diabetes occurs when a woman develops diabetes during pregnancy, usually around week 24 of the pregnancy. Some women will no longer be diabetic after the pregnancy; whereas, some women continue being diabetic for the rest of their lives. Women who develop gestational diabetes should consult with their doctor and follow their doctor’s advice carefully.
Complications of Diabetes
Complications can occur if someone with diabetes does not take care of their health through proper eating, controlling their blood sugar, and exercise. The complications experienced also vary by gender, age, and even race. Some complications may include, but are not limited to:
- Kidney disease
- High blood pressure
- Eating disorders
- Amputation of limps
- Heart disease
- Sexual dysfunction
- Skin infections/disorders
- Hearing loss
- Gum disease
- Peripheral Arterial Disease
Tips for living with Diabetes
Every person is different in how their body produces (or doesn’t produce) insulin, sensitivity to medications, and what is a good regimen to follow to keep blood sugar levels down at a normal level. However, here are a couple tips that can help most anyone with diabetes.
Food – have a healthy, balanced diet that includes foods from all of the food groups. But, make sure that you keep your portions in check as well. Avoid foods with added sugars and bad fats (i.e. trans fats or partially hydrogenated oils). Eat foods that have high fiber and whole grains, that have healthy fats (i.e. nuts, olive oil, avocados, etc.), and have limited sugars and carbs.
Exercise– regular exercise is important to maintain a healthy weight and for your overall health, so it makes sense that exercise is included in this section. If you haven’t been exercising regularly and have diabetes, you should check with your doctor before beginning a workout regimen. Someone with diabetes should check their blood sugar before, during, and after working out. Checking for blood sugar that is too low or too high can help you determine if it is safe to workout, if you need to eat additional carbs to increase blood sugar levels, or if your blood sugar is too high and it is unsafe to workout.