Diabetes is a prevalent issue, both in our local community and throughout our nation, with 11.3% of the US population currently diagnosed. Diabetes is a serious condition that affects how the body uses blood sugar, also known as glucose. Glucose is an important source of energy for the body, especially for the brain. There are three main types of diabetes to be aware of: Type 1, Type 2, and gestational diabetes. Additionally, prediabetes is often a precursor to watch out for that can lead to Type 2 diabetes. However, a diabetes diagnosis doesn’t have to be your final destination. There are many avenues you can take to manage your health, and live a long, healthy life.
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body’s pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin. Insulin is important because it helps the body to process glucose into energy. Without insulin, glucose can build up in the bloodstream and lead to many serious complications. This type of diabetes is less common than Type 2 and is thought to be caused by an autoimmune reaction that targets the pancreas. Of the population of individuals that have diabetes only about 5-10% of those have Type 1. Often this type presents in younger children but it is not limited to a certain age range.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is different from Type 1 in a few regards. First, people with Type 2 diabetes have a pancreas that makes insulin but often in lower amounts than someone without diabetes. Additionally, people with Type 2 diabetes experience insulin resistance. Insulin resistance means that the body cannot properly use the insulin that your body makes, resulting in high blood sugars. Last, Type 2 is much more prevalent than Type 1 and is caused by both genetic predisposition and certain lifestyle choices such as being overly sedentary.
Prediabetes is a health condition that is a precursor to Type 2 diabetes. It occurs when blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. According to the CDC, more than one in three adults have prediabetes. However, if you are diagnosed with prediabetes, it is possible to prevent a Type 2 diagnosis and reverse your prediabetes through healthy lifestyle changes.
Gestational diabetes is diabetes that is diagnosed during pregnancy and can cause high blood sugar like Type 2 diabetes. After delivery, most mothers are able to maintain healthy blood sugars, however there is a risk for Type 2 diabetes in the future.
If faced with any of these diabetes diagnoses, it is important to know that there are lifestyle changes that can help you to manage diabetes and live a healthier life.
- Try to move more! Increase your physical activity by doing something active that you enjoy for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
- Choose healthier foods! Aim to put foods that are high in fiber and low in refined sugar on the table. Make half your plate vegetables. Choose lean proteins. Also try to limit sugary beverages.
- Seek Support! Island Health is here to help you manage your diabetes. Island Health Education is currently offering two classes on diabetes: Living Better with Diabetes and On the Road to Diabetes: Prediabetes Education and Prevention. To learn more and to register for these classes click here or call 360.299.4204.
Published on October 13, 2022