November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. Approximately 9% of Americans have diabetes, yet almost one-third of those with diabetes are unaware they have this condition. Furthermore, 26% of Americans have Prediabetes, putting them at risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
These are alarming statistics when considering that diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, non-traumatic lower limb amputation, and new cases of blindness.
Here are three things everyone needs to know about diabetes:
1. Sugar intake does not cause diabetes.
Diabetes is a condition of high blood sugar. Over time, high blood sugar can lead to many health complications. However, insufficient production of the hormone insulin, not too much sugar, is the cause of diabetes.
Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disorder that is usually diagnosed before adulthood. People with Type 1 Diabetes require insulin injections for life. This is because their pancreas no longer produces this life saving hormone that is needed to take energy from the food we eat to cells throughout the body.
Type 2 Diabetes is a condition of insufficient insulin production. People with Type 2 Diabetes either don’t make enough insulin or their body no longer responds well to the insulin they produce.
2. Age and genetics matter
Risk for Type 2 Diabetes increases dramatically after age 60. People with a family history of diabetes are also at increased risk. Women who are diagnosed with diabetes in pregnancy (gestational diabetes) are at increased risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes later in life. Children of women who were diagnosed with gestational diabetes also have increased chances of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
3. Prediabetes is real, and Type 2 Diabetes can be prevented.
Even though you can’t change your genes or your age, you can change your lifestyle. Maintaining a healthy weight can prevent or delay the onset of Type 2 Diabetes. In fact, a landmark national study known as the Diabetes Prevention Trial found that diet and exercise leading to a 7% weight loss in people who were diagnosed with Prediabetes was more effective in preventing Type 2 Diabetes than medication!
Are you at risk for Type 2 Diabetes? Take the prediabetes quiz here to find out your risk today.
If you already have diabetes, you can still benefit from lifestyle changes that will help you manage your blood sugars and prevent health complications.