Your health is in your hands
Unlike many chronic diseases, type 2 diabetes has a “warning” stage called pre-diabetes. That means your blood sugar is elevated, but not yet at levels signaling diabetes. And, it means you have a window of opportunity to make lifestyle changes and stop pre-diabetes from developing further.
Try these tips to get started on a healthier path:
Get 15 to 20 minutes of exercise each day by:
- Walking a few extra blocks during your morning dog walk.
- Taking the stairs up to the office or at the mall.
- Parking in the far lot at the grocery store.
- Raking leaves instead of using the leaf-blower.
- Playing a game of tag with the kids.
Make healthier eating choices by:
- Adding a handful of fresh fruit to your oatmeal.
- Choosing whole grain pasta and bread instead of white.
- Bringing trail mix made of unsalted nuts, sunflower seeds and raisins to work for your 3 p.m. snack.
- Eating lean meats like salmon or boneless skinless chicken breasts.
- Cutting restaurant portions down to size (ask for a to-go container when your food arrives and put about half of your food in it right away).
About one in nine Chicagoans have type 2 diabetes, and many more have dangerously elevated blood sugar but don’t even know it. With the rate of new cases increasing every year, understanding the disease could prevent you from becoming a statistic.
Straight talk about a silent disease
Diabetes is a condition in which the body can’t use insulin properly. What does that mean? Uzma Syed, MD, Director of Endocrinology on staff at Adventist GlenOaks Hospital explains it this way. “Glucose is the fuel for our bodies that comes from the food we eat. It’s a simple sugar that our cells use for energy. It’s just like how a car uses gasoline.”
When everything is working properly, your pancreas produces the hormone insulin. It helps regulate the amount of glucose flowing through your bloodstream so that your cells are getting a steady supply of fuel. “If there isn’t enough insulin or if it isn’t working properly, glucose can’t enter your cells and it stays in the bloodstream instead,” says Dr. Syed. Chemicals produced by the excess glucose can damage blood vessels and contribute to a host of problems including heart disease or damage to the liver, kidneys and nerves.
Are you at risk for type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes rates have been rising along with American obesity rates. “The two go hand-in-hand,” says Dr. Syed. Your cells have a harder time recognizing the insulin your body produces when you’re overweight, which means the insulin isn’t able to do its job: getting the glucose out of your blood and into cells where it’s needed for fuel.
“This type of diabetes used to be known as ‘adult-onset.’ Unfortunately, with teens and even children as young as 7 or 8 being diagnosed with it, the name no longer fits,” Dr. Syed says.
Being overweight or obese isn’t the only thing that puts people at risk for type 2 diabetes, though it is an important factor. In general, you’re at increased risk if you:
• Have a family history of diabetes (especially a parent or sibling with the disease).
• Are age 45 or older.
• Had gestational diabetes.
• Are African American, Hispanic, Native American or Asian American.
Diabetes symptoms can be difficult to recognize, but if you have one or more risk factors, please report these symptoms to your doctor:
• Feeling tired or getting tired more easily
• Increased hunger
• Increased thirst
• Blurry vision
• Rapid, unexplained weight loss
• Repeated urinary or vaginal infections
• Wounds that won’t heal
If you see yourself experiencing these symptoms, Dr. Syed urges you to get screened for diabetes.
Get your FREE diabetes screening this November when you're one of the first 100 people to call 866-533-7968.