Christeena Haynes, MS, RD, LD, former Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, Dallas County, University of Missouri Extension
November is American Diabetes Month®, making it a good time to become more aware of this epidemic. According to the American Diabetes Association, nearly 29 million Americans have diabetes, and 86 million Americans have pre-diabetes and are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes is a disease that affects the way our body uses energy from food. Normally, in someone without diabetes, carbohydrates are digested as glucose, or sugar, when food is eaten. Our bodies’ cells need glucose for energy. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, acts as a key to open cells and allow glucose to enter the cells. When this happens, glucose is being moved out of the blood and into the cells, which lowers blood sugar levels. However, in someone with diabetes, glucose builds up in the blood because it is unable to enter the cells, leading to high blood sugar. This is caused by either a lack of insulin or the insulin does not work the way it should.
Symptoms of diabetes include frequent urination, unusual thirst, excessive hunger, unusual weight loss, extreme fatigue, numbness in hands and feet, and frequent infections.
There are different forms of diabetes:
Pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes can often be prevented or delayed by making the following diet and lifestyle changes:
American Diabetes Association. (2016). Statistics About Diabetes. Retrieved November 7, 2016, from http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/statistics/
American Diabetes Association. (2012). American Diabetes Month. Retrieved July 16, 2012, from http://www.diabetes.org/in-my-community/programs/american-diabetes-month/
Fischer, J.A., Franzen-Castle, L., & Schroeder, D. (2010). November: American Diabetes Month. Retrieved July 16, 2012, from http://food.unl.edu/
National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse. (2011). Insulin Resistance and Prediabetes. Retrieved July 16, 2012, from http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/insulinresistance/
University of Missouri Extension. (2012). Eat well be well with diabetes. Columbia, MO.