National Diabetes Awareness 2021

Featured article image National Diabetes Month

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. Diabetic retinopathy, the eye disease caused by diabetes, can cause anything from blurry vision to blindness. Here’s how you can prevent you or your loved one from losing vision.

The 2021 theme for National Diabetes Awareness Month is “small steps, big difference” and it is a reminder that by making small and consistent healthy lifestyle changes you can prevent type 2 diabetes and even reverse prediabetes.

Diabetes can lead to many complications such as nerve damage (neuropathy), kidney damage (nephropathy), eye damage (retinopathy), and foot and skin damage. Prediabetes is when blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes.

What is Diabetes

According to the CDC, 88 million people (about 1 in 3 U.S. adults) have prediabetes but most of them are not aware of it.

Blood glucose, also called blood sugar, rises after you eat and your pancreas releases the hormone insulin into your bloodstream to lower the blood glucose level and keep it in the normal range. But in prediabetes you develop insulin resistance which causes high levels of glucose to stay in your bloodstream, and overtime, if this continues, it will lead to diabetes.

Managing Your Diabetes

These are the recommended steps you can take to manage prediabetes and prevent it from progressing to diabetes:

Move more. Limit time spent sitting and try to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity 5 days a week. You can start slowly and break it up throughout the day.

Choose healthier foods and drinks. Choose foods that are high in fiber and low in fat and sugar. Include a balance of vegetables, protein, and carbohydrates. Substitute water or unsweetened tea for sugary drinks.

Lose weight, track it, and keep it off. You may be able to prevent or delay diabetes by losing 5 to 7 percent of your starting weight.

Seek support. It is possible to reverse prediabetes. Making a plan, tracking your progress, and getting support from your health care professional and loved ones can help you make the necessary lifestyle changes.

Take small steps. You don’t have to change everything at once. Setbacks are normal and do not mean you have failed. The key is to get back on track as soon as you can.

Diabetes Awareness – Tips

Researchers don’t fully understand what causes insulin resistance and prediabetes, but they think excess weight and lack of physical activity are major contributing factors.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, obesity, and especially too much fat in the abdomen and around the organs, which is called visceral fat, is a main cause of insulin resistance.

A waist measurement of 40 inches or more for men and 35 inches or more for women is linked to insulin resistance. This is true even if your body mass index (BMI) falls within the normal range. However, research has shown that Asian Americans may have an increased risk for insulin resistance even without a high BMI.

Researchers used to think that fat tissue was only for energy storage. However, studies have shown that belly fat makes hormones and other substances that can contribute to chronic, or long-lasting, inflammation in the body. Inflammation may play a role in insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

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Gregory Scimeca, M.D.
Ophthalmologist and Medical Director
The Eye Professionals

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