Learn what diabetes is and what you can do to reduce your risk.
Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that moves glucose (blood sugar) from the foods we eat into the cells. Type 1 diabetes is a condition in which the body does not make insulin. In the case of type 2 diabetes, the body cannot use insulin as well as it should or has become resistant to insulin.
The right amount of blood sugar gives the body's cells and organs the energy it needs to function well. Diabetes disrupts this function and causes sugars to build up in the blood. If diabetes is not treated, it can lead to serious complications including heart disease, stroke, and kidney, eye and nerve damage.
Differences Between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system, for some reason, turns on itself and begins to attack and destroy the cells of the pancreas that produce and release insulin. While the cause is not entirely understood at this time, scientists believe that genetics or environmental factors might trigger the disease.
Type 2 diabetes is the result of the body either resisting the effects of insulin or does not produce enough insulin to maintain normal glucose levels. In the past, type 2 diabetes was known as adult-onset diabetes. Today, with the increase in childhood obesity and more children being diagnosed with the disorder, it is no longer considered an adult-only disease.
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How Do I Reduce My Risk of Diabetes?
Type 1 Diabetes
While no one can control one's genetics, not everyone with a family history of type 1 diabetes gets diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), scientists are starting to isolate triggers that are common among those with a genetic predisposition who go on to develop type 1 diabetes. These include:
- Cold weather - Type 1 diabetes develops more often in winter than summer and is more common in places with cold climates.
- Viruses - Viruses affect people differently and may interact more significantly with those who develop the condition.
- Early diet - Type 1 diabetes is less common in people who were breastfed in infancy and among those who first ate solid foods at later ages.
Treatment for Type 1 diabetes includes maintaining healthy blood sugar levels through regular monitoring, insulin therapy, diet, and exercise.
Type 2 Diabetes
Studies of twins have shown that genetics plays a significant role in the development of type 2 diabetes, although this may be due to a shared lifestyle as much as genetics. The most common type of diabetes, self-care and disease management are vital for those with a family history of type 2 diabetes, as well as those who have been diagnosed with prediabetes.
Ways to Reduce your Risk of Diabetes:
Every pound lost matters. According to the ADA, participants in one large study who lost a modest amount of weight — around 7 percent of initial body weight — and exercised regularly reduced the risk of developing diabetes by almost 60 percent!
There are many benefits of increased activity. Weight loss, lowered blood sugar, and increased sensitivity to insulin (which helps keep blood sugar within a healthy range) are among the many reasons to get up and move!
Eating more high fiber foods improves blood sugar control, lowers the risk of heart disease, and supports weight loss by helping a person feel full. Choose fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and whole grains (be sure to look for the word "whole" on the package among the first few items in the ingredient list).
Resist fad diets! The effectiveness of these trendy food fads is unknown. It may deprive the person with diabetes of essential nutrients. Choose a variety and portion control as part of a healthy eating plan. As always, speak to a doctor before starting any diet program!
Gaining knowledge and skills about self-managing diabetes is vital to successful outcomes. Doylestown Health offers extensive educational programs that are recognized by the American Diabetes Association. Those with diabetes learn self-management skills, meal planning, risk factors for complications and strategies to avoid complications. The Doylestown Health Diabetes Center also offers one-on-one counseling to educate patients on glucose monitor use, insulin administration, gestational diabetes and much more.
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About Doylestown Health's Diabetes Services
Diabetes is committed to providing patients and their families with the highest quality care. Our skilled team offers a wide array of services, including diabetes medication management, continuous glucose monitoring, support groups and education classes. We take a collaborative approach to care, working with specialists in various disciplines to deliver personalized treatment, designed to meet each individual's needs.