It’s curious (and fitting) that National Diabetes Month should begin the day after Halloween, the most decadently sweet holiday of the year for adults and kids… basically anyone who loves a good candy bar and a costume. But as we sift through our plastic pumpkins and beloved goody bags looking for the best chocolate-coated treats, many of us may need to take a quick reality – and blood – check.
Formerly known as “adult onset” or “non-insulin dependent” diabetes, type 2 diabetes is by far the most prevalent form of this condition – but the good news is, it’s also the most preventable. According to recent research, almost a tenth of the population currently has either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, even though many of those suffering with diabetes haven’t yet been diagnosed.
It all comes down to insulin – our bodies’ production and usage of this uncanny substance – or lack thereof.
Insulin is the hormone our bodies use to process glucose (or sugar) from carbohydrates, and pass it along, through our bloodstream, as energy to our cells. Our cells need the energy provided by various kinds of sugar, and our body needs insulin to make this happen. Insulin is produced by the pancreas, and in proper amounts, regulates our blood sugar at proper levels. However, if our body doesn’t produce enough insulin, or is insulin-resistant, it causes our blood sugar to rise to unsafe, unhealthy levels, a condition known as hyperglycemia.
Typically diagnosed in early childhood, patients with type 1 diabetes don’t produce any insulin, and require insulin shots every day to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Type 2 diabetes, which affects about 90 percent of the diabetic population, is typically more manageable and usually surfaces later in life. It’s tied to a variety of adulthood risk factors, including age, family history, ethnicity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, overweight, and physical inactivity.
Here are a few of the main symptoms of diabetes or prediabetes:
· Weight loss
· Increased hunger
· Extreme thirst
· Frequent urination
· Blurred vision
· Recurrent infections
· Slower healing process
But there is more good news! If you have been diagnosed with prediabetes – or may be at elevated risk for diabetes – you could qualify for YMCA of Greater Birmingham’s 12-month Diabetes Prevention Program. Beginning with 16 one-hour weekly classes, followed by monthly sessions with a certified lifestyle coach, participants in the Y Diabetes Prevention Program find support, invaluable encouragement, and vital informational resources. While exploring new options for healthy eating, daily exercise, stress reduction, and fundamental lifestyle changes, participants are equipped with the necessary means to improve their overall health and fitness – and deal a serious blow to one of America’s most rampant, life-impacting disorders.
To find out if you qualify for our Y Diabetes Prevention Program (or a financial aid scholarship to participate), visit www.ymcabham.org/diabetesprevention, or contact Keesha Nelson at (205) 801-7224. To learn more about the causes, symptoms, and treatments for diabetes, visit www.endocrineweb.com or the American Diabetes Association® website at http://www.diabetes.org. #YStrongBham #TakeBackNovember #NationalDiabetesMonth
MISSION: To put Judeo-Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.
VISION: We will lead our community to become the healthiest in America.
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