We just made it through Halloween, the candy lover's dream holiday and a sure way to keep those sugar levels at an all time high! Did you know, according to The Balance, this year's Halloween hit a record total spending of 9.1 billion dollars with 179 million folks celebrating the sugar night frenzy? What? That's a lot of sweetness. The average spending per buyer was $86.13. Holy popcorn balls. Is it a coincidence then that the month of November is American Diabetes Month? Perhaps. Well, in the spirit of celebrating cavities and elevated blood sugar levels, let's dive into some much needed information on the subject of diabetes.
I love statistics, so I will start with some shocking numbers the CDC has provided in the 2017 National Diabetes Statistics Report. I always attach links at the end and I highly encourage
everyone to review the information for themselves. This helps solidify the important points I try to express in this blog. Okay, so there are a whopping 23.1 million people who have the official diagnosis of diabetes, but there are 7.2 million folks who are walking around with diabetes and do not even know it. This 30.3 million total is 9.4% of the U.S. population. Sadly, in 2015, diabetes was the 7th leading cause of death (24.7 per 100,000 persons). The average medical expense for each person with diabetes was around $13,700 yearly. That equates to a total cost in the U.S. of around $245 billion dollars (a little more than we spent on Halloween). These numbers include both types of diabetes (type 1 and type 2). To add to the statistics, 1 in every 3 adults has a condition known as pre-diabetes (higher than normal blood sugar levels but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes) which increases their chances of becoming diabetic down the road.
What, pray tell, is the difference between type I diabetes and type II diabetes? I am happy to answer that for you. Type I diabetes most often is discovered during childhood but it can occur in middle aged adults as well. It is a chronic autoimmune illness where the beta cells in the pancreas are destroyed and the body cannot produce insulin (which is the hormone that keeps blood sugar levels from rising to a toxic level in the body). Type I diabetes is not preventable and the only treatment available is lifelong insulin replacement therapy. Type II diabetes is a chronic illness that results from the body's resistance to the insulin produced by the pancreas, not enough insulin secretion, and over production of glucagon (another hormone produced by the pancreas that helps bring sugar levels up when they are too low.) Type II diabetes is preventable (to a certain extent) through reduction of risk factors and proper health maintenance as long as possible.
Both types have similar symptoms leading to the diagnosis of diabetes but lab testing will confirm the diagnosis. The cardinal signs are the 3 p's - polydipsia, polyphagia, polyuria.
- Excessive thirst (polydipsia)
- Excessive hunger (polyphagia)
- Excessive urination (polyuria)
Those with un-diagnosed diabetes may walk around for a few years without any symptoms and either develop symptoms as their sugars remain out of control or elevated sugar levels are found during a routine lab test for wellness or another reason.
There are many ways to help control both types of diabetes as well as prevent type II diabetes. First, if you have either type of diabetes, you have certainly been made aware of the important changes in diet that will help maintain lower healthier blood sugar levels, but let me lay out some gentle diet reminders:
- Each meal should contain no more than 45 to 60 grams of carbohydrates. This total can be adjusted based on energy needs, your blood sugar target goals, and weight loss or weight management goals.
- Snacks between 3 healthy staple meals are important as well. Healthy snacks
help maintain the body's metabolism and energy levels. Snacks should not contain any more
than 30 grams of carbs.
- Carbs are not just "sugars or sweets", they in are grains, starches, legumes, fibers. They are found in fruits, vegetables, and milk. Choose the healthier unprocessed fruits and veggies (the good carbs)!
- For folks that need tighter blood sugar control and are less active, the total number of carbs should be on the lower side of the spectrum. For someone who is physically active, they may need to remain on the higher end of the spectrum. However, since everyone responds to carbs differently, it's very important to track the daily intake of carbohydrates as well as testing blood sugar before and after meals to see what amount of carbohydrates are optimal to reach desired goals.
This is a lot to digest, no pun intended, but it all equals anywhere from 180 grams of carbs to 270 grams of carbs daily. I personally, knowing my clients' activity levels and eating habits, recommend no more than 150 grams a day to some (yes, you know who you are and how much I care!) If you are a diabetic, generally your A1C target should be less than 7%. This means your average blood sugar level hovers around 154. So, when counting carbs and setting goals, this is where you want to be (unless your doctor has another reason why you should not be at this level).
There is much more to learn about diet, such as how fat, protein and cholesterol intake also help diabetics manage healthy blood sugar levels. But this it too much to discuss in this blog. So please visit the sites below!
Time to move on to other lifestyle changes that can prevent diabetes type II or maintain target sugar goals. Let me be blunt:
- If you smoke, stop. Smoking is a huge risk factor that can be controlled to help prevent type II diabetes.
- Work on healthy weight loss through diet and increased activity levels. Those with a BMI greater than 25 are at increased risk for diabetes and may already have pre-diabetes.
- Folks who have elevated blood pressures (hypertension) are at a higher risk of developing diabetes. Take your blood pressure medications as prescribed, reduce your sodium intake to 1800 mg a day, and keep that blood pressure controlled!
These are all things you can control yourself to prevent or lower your risk of diabetes in the long run. It is up to you to manage these risk factors. Take your health seriously and do not become a statistic.
There is so much more information than this though. I would love it if you reached out to your provider to ask what other things you can do to take control of your health and avoid the serious outcomes that are results of uncontrolled diabetes. IF your provider does not give you the time, then you are always welcome to call me ;0) Take your health seriously and have a happy American Diabetes Awareness month. Now put that snickers bar down!
Feel free to leave comments, experiences, or thoughtful education.