November is National Diabetes Month, a time to raise awareness about diabetes and discuss its impact on millions of people across the nation, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).
Approximately 30 million Americans have diabetes, and 84 million have a high risk of getting type 2 diabetes, according to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. More than 25 percent of those with diabetes are older than 65.
Diabetes occurs when blood sugar is too high, and insulin, which the body uses to regulate blood sugar, is absent or present only in small amounts in the body, according to NIDDK. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body cannot create insulin. Children and young adults are more likely than their older counterparts to contract this type. Those diagnosed need to take insulin every day. Type 2, which is more common overall and usually occurs in middle-aged and older people, happens when the body does not manufacture insulin well.
If you have diabetes, you can take steps to manage it and remain as healthy as possible. First, try reducing the stress in your life. Second, focus on eating well, choosing a diet low in saturated fat, calories, sugar and salt. Third, drink water instead of juice and soda. Fourth, stay active by taking walks, doing yoga or doing strength training. Fifth, take all prescribed medication and visit your doctor regularly.
You may be at risk to develop diabetes if you:
- are overweight
- are older than 45
- have a parent or sibling with type 2 diabetes
- do not exercise at least three times per week
- have had gestational diabetes (diabetes while pregnant)
- are African American, Hispanic/Latino American, American Indian, or Alaska Native
One of the best ways to reduce your risk of getting diabetes is to exercise regularly and to lose some weight if you’re overweight, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Try walking briskly for 30 minutes per day five days per week.
If you’d like to help spread the word about National Diabetes Month and raise money for advocacy and treatment efforts, consider joining one of the American Diabetes Association’s Step Out walkathons or Tour de Cure bike rides.
World Diabetes Day is on Nov. 14.