person pricking their finger to check blood sugar levels

The 411 on Diabetes

More than 30 million Americans are living with diabetes, and 7 million of them are undiagnosed, according to a 2017 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Diabetes is caused by deficiency or the malfunction of insulin, the hormone that regulates the body’s ability to properly use glucose. This malfunction leads to a buildup of sugar in the blood and the potential for serious health problems, including heart disease, kidney failure, blindness and loss of limbs. With treatment and monitoring, however, diabetes can be effectively managed and serious problems greatly reduced.

Type 1 occurs when the body is unable to produce insulin and as a result injections are needed to regulate blood sugar levels.

Type 2, in which the body no longer responds to insulin, is the more common form of diabetes. Along with family history, other type 2 diabetes risk factors include a body mass index greater than 30, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and physical inactivity.

"Although serious, diabetes is a manageable disease," says Overlake diabetes educator, Kathy Fitzpatrick, RN, MN, CDE. "At Overlake, we can teach you how to manage your diabetes to help you lead a healthy life and reduce the risk of complications."

If You’re Living with Diabetes

An important component of managing diabetes is maintaining your blood sugar levels within the recommended goals set by the American Diabetes Association. Blood sugar level goals are:

  • 80 -130 before eating. 
  • Less than 180 one to two hours after eating.

Blood sugar is positively affected by healthy nutrition, exercise and blood glucose-lowering medication. An excellent way to help manage blood sugar levels is to engage in regular physical activity. Any activity you do is helpful. You should warm up, stretch and cool down to prevent injuries. If you are not active right now, you should start slowly, keeping in mind the goal is 150 minutes of activity per week.

To maintain healthy nutrition and to control blood sugars, it is most important to pay attention to your intake of all carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are made up of starches and both natural and artificial sugars.

A high-fiber diet can also help with better blood sugar control and even help prevent heart disease, diabetes and promote weight loss. So how much fiber do we need? The American Dietetic Association says we should consume between 20 to 35 grams of total fiber daily.

To get a more personalized meal plan, consider seeing a registered dietitian. Getting individual attention and advice can make a big difference in helping you manage this condition. Talk to your healthcare provider to receive a referral to meet one-on-one with a registered dietitian.

Reducing Your Risk for Diabetes

The CDC report also found that 84 million Americans have prediabetes, which means blood sugar levels are above normal but not yet at diabetic levels. Fortunately, research shows that if you take control of your health now by maintaining a healthy weight and staying active, you can delay or prevent diabetes.

Call 425.688.5700 for more information about diabetes education classes or to schedule an appointment. Certified diabetes educators at Overlake can show you how to read your lab results and understand how to manage your diabetes.

November is National Diabetes month. If you have symptoms of diabetes which include frequent urination, excessive thirst and fatigue, speak with your healthcare provider about your concerns.