Happy World Diabetes Day!

Every year, World Diabetes Day is celebrated on November 14.  This day is meant to spread awareness and advocacy about diabetes.  According to the 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet, 8.3% of the U.S. population is affected by diabetes – that’s 25.8 million Americans!  Diabetes is a lifelong disease that requires conscious monitoring for control.  If uncontrolled, diabetes can lead to amputations, blindness, kidney disease, heart disease, and nervous system damage.

The logo for World Diabetes Day is a blue circle symbolizing health and life.  Across all cultures, the blue circle can be interpreted as a positive and uplifting sign that we are working together to resolve the threat of diabetes.  Currently, the International Diabetes Foundation has partnered with companies such as Pfizer, Merck, Nestle, and Lilly to promote efforts towards prevention and an eventual remedy for diabetes.

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Diabetes is diagnosed by looking at your blood glucose (blood sugar) levels over a period of time (A1c), conducting a fasting plasma glucose test, or using an oral glucose tolerance test.  Different tests are used to diagnose different types of diabetes.  These tests will show how well your body is able to utilize the energy, or food, that you put into it.  To use the energy from food efficiently, the hormone Insulin is needed to “unlock” your cells and allow the glucose to enter and be used for energy.  When your body does not make enough Insulin or is no longer able to use the Insulin, diabetes develops.

If an individual has blood glucose levels that are higher than normal but not yet at the threshold of diabetes, they may be diagnosed as prediabetic.  Prediabetics can take steps to decrease their likeliness of becoming a diabetic.  Some healthy steps that prediabetics can take include increasing physical activity, moderating weight loss, and being more conscious of eating habits.  All individuals can lower their risk of prediabetes and diabetes with these steps as well!

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Photo: American Diabetes Association

If you have experienced or are currently experiencing one or more of the following symptoms, talk to you doctor about a diabetes test:

  • increased urination
  • increased thirst
  • unexplained weight loss
  • severe tiredness and fatigue
  • vision problems
  • increased appetite
  • wounds that do not heal

After a diagnosis of diabetes or prediabetes, a dietitian can provide additional information about dietary changes and controlling your diabetes.  Further questions about diabetes should be directed towards your doctor or someone like a Vital Bridges or HHO Dietitian.

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