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WHAT IS DIABETES?

DIABETES

Diabetes is a chronic (long-lasting) health condition that affects how your body turns food into energy.

Your body breaks down most of the food you eat into sugar (glucose) and releases it into your bloodstream. When your blood sugar goes up, it signals your pancreas to release insulin. Insulin acts like a key to let the blood sugar into your body’s cells for use as energy.
 

With diabetes, your body doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use it as well as it should. When there isn’t enough insulin our cells stop responding to insulin, too much blood sugar stays in your bloodstream. Over time, that can cause serious health problems, such as heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease.

There isn’t a cure for diabetes yet, but losing weight, eating healthy food, and being active can really help.

TYPES OF

DIABETES

TYPE 1 DIABETES  can occur at any age. It is most often diagnosed in children, adolescents, or young adults. Type 1 diabetes is thought to be caused by an autoimmune reaction (the body attacks itself by mistake). This reaction stops your body from making insulin. Symptoms of type 1 diabetes often develop quickly.

If you have type 1 diabetes, you’ll need to take insulin every day to survive. 

With TYPE 2 DIABETES, your body doesn’t use insulin well and can’t keep blood sugar at normal levels. About 90-95% of people with diabetes have type 2. It develops over many years and is usually diagnosed in adults (but more and more in children, teens, and young adults). You may not notice any symptoms, so it’s important to get your blood sugar tested if you’re at risk. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed with healthy lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, eating healthy foods, cutting carbohydrates, being active among other lifestyle changes.

GESTATIONAL DIABETES (diabetes while pregnant).

Gestational diabetes develops in pregnant women who have never had diabetes. If you have gestational diabetes, your baby could be at higher risk for health problems. Gestational diabetes usually goes away after your baby is born. However, it increases your risk for type 2 diabetes later in life. Your baby is more likely to have obesity as a child or teen and develop type 2 diabetes later in life.

THERE ARE THREE MAIN TYPES OF DIABETES: 

TREATING DIABETES

TYPE 1 DIABETES

Management for type 1 diabetes includes:

Taking insulin, Counting carbohydrates, fats and protein, Monitoring blood sugar often, Eating healthy foods,

Exercising regularly and keeping a healthy weight.

The goal is to keep the blood sugar level as close to normal as possible to delay or prevent complications. Generally, the goal is to keep the daytime blood sugar levels before meals between 80 and 130 mg/dL (4.44 to 7.2 mmol/L). After-meal numbers should be no higher than 180 mg/dL (10 mmol/L) two hours after eating.

Anyone who has type 1 diabetes needs insulin therapy throughout their life. They will probably need several daily injections that include a combination of a long-acting insulin and a rapid-acting insulin. These injections act more like the body's normal use of insulin than do older insulin regimens that only required one or two shots a day. A combination of three or more insulin injections a day has been shown to improve blood sugar levels.

Depending on the type of insulin therapy your doctor selects, you may have to check and record your blood sugar level at least four times a day.

The American Diabetes Association recommends testing blood sugar levels before meals and snacks, before bed, before exercising or driving, and whenever you think you have low blood sugar. Careful monitoring is the only way to make sure that your blood sugar level remains within your target range. More frequent monitoring can lower A1C levels.

Even if you take insulin and eat on a strict schedule, blood sugar levels can change. You'll learn how your blood sugar level changes in response to food, activity, illness, medications, stress, hormonal changes and alcohol.

Healthy eating and monitoring carbohydrates

There's no such thing as a diabetes diet. However, it's important to center your diet on nutritious, low-fat, high-fiber foods such as:

  • Fruits

  • Vegetables

  • Whole grains

Physical activity

Everyone needs regular aerobic exercise, including people who have type 1 diabetes. First, get your provider's OK to exercise. Then choose activities you enjoy, such as walking or swimming, and do them every day when you can. Try for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise a week, with no more than two days without any exercise.

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TREATING DIABETES

TYPE 2 DIABETES

Management of type 2 diabetes includes: Healthy eating, Regular exercise, weight loss,  ​Possibly diabetic medication, insulin injections & insulin pump. These steps will help keep your blood sugar level closer to normal, which can delay or prevent complications. 

Healthy eating

Contrary to popular perception, there's no specific diabetes diet. However, it's important to center your diet around:

  • A regular schedule for meals and healthy snacks

  • Smaller portion sizes

  • More high-fiber foods, such as fruits, nonstarchy vegetables and whole grains

  • Fewer refined grains, starchy vegetables and sweets

  • Modest servings of low-fat dairy, low-fat meats and fish

  • Healthy cooking oils, such as olive oil or canola oil

  • Fewer calories

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Physical activity

Exercise is important for losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight. It also helps with regulating blood sugar levels. 

Aerobic exercise. Choose an aerobic exercise that you enjoy, such as walking, swimming, biking or running. Adults should aim for 30 minutes or more of moderate aerobic exercise on most days of the week, or at least 150 minutes a week. Children should have 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise daily.

Resistance exercise. Resistance exercise increases your strength, balance and ability to perform activities of daily living more easily. Resistance training includes weightlifting, yoga and calisthenics.

Adults living with type 2 diabetes should aim for two to three sessions of resistance exercise each week. Children should engage in activities that build strength and flexibility at least three days a week. This can include resistance exercises, sports and climbing on playground equipment.

Limit inactivity. Breaking up long bouts of inactivity, such as sitting at the computer, can help control blood sugar levels. Take a few minutes to stand, walk around or do some light activity every 30 minutes.

Weight loss

Weight loss results in better control of blood sugar levels, cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure. If you're overweight, you may begin to see improvements in these factors after losing as little as 5% of your body weight. However, the more weight you lose, the greater the benefit to your health and disease management.

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