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Diabetes Awareness Month: Tips for Diabetes Prevention and Management | Free

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 34.2 million people in the United States have diabetes, and one in five does not even know that they have diabetes. Understanding diabetes and how to manage it is very important for the collective health of our community, especially for the elderly.

It is well known that diabetes is associated with diet and exercise, but what is this chronic health condition? In essence, diabetes affects the way the body converts food into energy. Most of the food we consume is broken down into sugar and released into the bloodstream, and when blood sugar levels rise, the pancreas releases insulin. For diabetics, the body does not produce enough insulin or use it efficiently. If the blood sugar level in the bloodstream is too high, organs such as the heart, eyes, and kidneys will be damaged over time.

There are three types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is a hereditary disorder that often appears early in life, when the immune system attacks insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Type 2 is primarily associated with a poor diet and lack of exercise and develops over time. Gestational diabetes develops during pregnancy due to hormonal changes that make it difficult for the mother to process blood sugar levels efficiently.

The risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases with age because insulin resistance increases with age and pancreatic function is impaired. Typical warning signs of type 2 diabetes include unintentional weight loss, increased urination and thirst, blurred vision, numbness and tingling in the limbs, slow healing pain, and malaise. Older people are at increased risk of developing symptoms, but they are often unaware of these symptoms because they are late onset or are dismissed simply as part of “aging.”

Good News – Type 2 diabetes can be managed (and prevented) with proper nutrition and physical activity. You can control your blood sugar by eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, limiting sugar, and participating in regular exercise. Other lifestyle changes such as reducing stress, avoiding tobacco, and improving sleep quality can also help control blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol and improve overall health.

These general recommendations sound easy, but in reality they seem daunting. Here are some healthy habits that have been broken down into simple steps for easy incorporation into your routine:

• Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables daily – try to include more whole grains and high fiber foods.

• Limit the amount of sugar added to prevent blood sugar spikes.

• Limit trans fats from foods such as baked goods and fried foods. Choose monounsaturated fats like cooking oil made from plants and seeds and polyunsaturated fats like fish.

• Choose lean meats, fish, meat substitutes, and legumes as good sources of protein.

• Limit sodium to 2300 mg per day.

• Choose water instead of sugared beverages or alcohol.

• Monitor portion size, especially when eating out.

• Do not skip meals and distribute them evenly throughout the day.

• Engage in regular physical activity, both aerobic exercise and muscle strengthening.

• Find activities that help reduce stress, such as meditation, exercise, visiting others, and reading and listening to music.

People with diabetes should have their blood sugar levels checked regularly and taken appropriately to keep them within the goals specified by their doctor. You should also regularly monitor your feet, skin, and eyes to detect potential problems early.

Elderly people with diabetes should consider the benefits of living in an elderly living community. These communities generally have healthy eating options that ensure that their nutritional needs are met. Often, there are group exercise classes that help you build strength and strength, as well as build a community. Access to fitness, health, wellness and nutrition professionals also helps individuals manage diabetes and achieve their overall health goals in a proactive and thoughtful way.

Diabetes is a chronic illness, but it can be well managed with some lifestyle changes and medications. November may be National Diabetes Month, but follow these simple steps to prevent or manage your life with diabetes all year round.

Lindsay Weisberg is a registered dietitian at Trillium Woods, the Plymouth lifeplan community.

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