Family Health: Diagnosis Diabetes

October 22, 2017

by Dorothy C. Lee, C.F.C.S., UF/IFAS Extension Escambia County

Some 30 million Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes this year. How will their lives be affected? Diabetes does mean some big changes but you may be surprised how much diet flexibility remains.

The human body is a marvelous machine, made up of many complex systems. When everything runs smoothly, we are “healthy”. Diabetes is an example of what happens when things don’t work exactly as they should. People with diabetes cannot properly use glucose, also called blood sugar, the cells energy source. Some people make no insulin, which regulates blood glucose by helping it enter the cells. Other people produce too little insulin, or have trouble using the insulin they make, or both.

The exact cause of diabetes is unknown, but if you have a family history of diabetes, you are at great risk. The ADA estimates that almost half of all people with diabetes don’t know they have the disease. Some people ignore their symptoms until they have medical complications.

Some of the warning signs of diabetes may be symptoms of excessive thirst, unusual hunger, slow healing of infections, constant urination, blurred vision, weakness and fatigue. Recurring of these symptoms may signal the need to consult your physician.

A diagnosis of diabetes doesn’t’ have to mean dietary deprivation and boredom. The key dietary words are; low-fat, high-fiber, low-sodium, well-balanced and reduced sugar.

Exercise is an important factor in diabetes management for two reason. Active people have an easier time losing weight which is important for controlling glucose levels. Exercise also promotes the cells ability to use glucose, which in turn reduces the amount of glucose in the body to more favorable levels.

Stress reduction is an important part of a wellness program. Feeling stressed out, uptight, and edgy strains the entire body. We may not have control over the sources of stress in our life; therefore, change the way you react to life’s stressors. Physical exercise is one of the best stress reducers. Don’t take on more than you can handle. Use support systems, reach out to family and friends.

Diabetes affects many people and can have very serious consequences, but the good news is that your health habits can help prevent diabetes or reduce its impact on your health. A healthy lifestyle can help reduce the risks of disease that are often a complication of diabetes.

For more information, call UF/IFAS Extension Escambia County or email dclee@ufl.edu.

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