According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 25 million Americans are suffering from diabetes. Although there are several theories regarding the increase in prevalence, the primary concern is maintaining the best quality of life while managing the disease.
Management of symptoms includes maintaining blood glucose levels through a combination of medication, exercise, and diet.
TYPES OF DIABETES
There are three main diagnostic categories- Type 1, Type 2, and gestational.
- Type 1, due to its early onset, has a greater potential for early death.
- Type 2 is linked to an increase in obesity rates and normally has an onset after age 40.
- The gestational version occurs during pregnancy in women who have had no previous diagnosis, but who demonstrate high pregnancy blood glucose levels.
Of the three main types, both Type 1 and Type 2 are lifelong. In other words, once a person is diagnosed with either Type 1 or Type 2, he or she will have the disease for the rest of his or her life. Thus, it is extremely important for people who have these diagnoses to be vigilant about the management of their symptoms.
The third type, gestational diabetes, although transient (normally occurring only during an affected woman’s pregnancy), is also important to manage, as it can have serious health effects on both the mother and her child, and so blood glucose levels must be carefully managed.
Many people have the idea that a diagnosis will sound a death knell for variety and taste in diet. That is not true, however. It is very possible to eat well and healthfully while also managing blood glucose through diet. Some suggestions include:
- Eat primarily complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, and limit refined sugars and simple carbohydrates.
- Choose primarily polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.
- Enjoy lean proteins.
- Eat plenty of green, leafy vegetables.
The recommendations are the same ones everyone should be following- make healthier, more conscious food choices. For someone with a diagnosis, however, it has an added level of importance.
An exercise program should be one that the individual enjoys to avoid risking burnout or injury.
When selecting an exercise, people should think about what they enjoy. Do they enjoy team sports? Do they enjoy jogging early in the morning and enjoying the scenery? Whatever exercise program is chosen, it should be enjoyable so it is healthy to both body and mind.
The most important point is that people with diabetes need to get active, as the physical activity can help manage symptoms and help control blood glucose levels in tandem with diet.
Unfortunately, many people have to use medication in addition to diet and exercise to control symptoms. Options include orally administered insulin, injections, and insulin pumps.
New research is being done in the area of “islet transplantation” for individuals with Type 1. Islet transplantation involves transplanting ‘islets’ of insulin-producing cells from a healthy pancreas into the pancreas of a Type 1 sufferer. The hope for these individuals is that they would then be able to produce their own insulin, negating the need for daily injections.
While more research needs to be done, it is important for people who have diabetes to know that although the disease is incurable, it is manageable. With proper care, people with diabetes can lead long, healthy lives.
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