Diabetes is a disease in which there is too much sugar (or glucose) in a person’s blood and currently affects almost 30 million Americans. Diabetes can cause serious health complications including heart disease, kidney failure, blindness, and, in severe cases, amputations due to poor blood circulation. Because of this, it is important to know how to prevent the disease as well as how to treat it.
There are two types of diabetes: type I where the body’s immune system attacks and destroys cells that produce insulin, and type II where the body needs extra insulin to carry sugar to cells for normal cell function. Although scientists have not yet discovered how to prevent type I diabetes, researchers have discovered ways to help prevent the development of type II diabetes.
The most basic way to prevent type II diabetes is by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and weight through good nutrition and exercise. Studies show that obesity is very closely linked to the development of type II diabetes, and that 30 minutes of exercise per day can help reduce this risk. Eating foods that are high in fiber, low in fat and calories, as well as eating an abundance of whole grains, fruits and vegetables can help to maintain a healthy weight and prevent type II diabetes.
Treatments for type I diabetes and type II diabetes may vary slightly, but both require maintaining a healthy diet in combination with regular exercise. People with type I diabetes treat their condition by monitoring their blood glucose levels and by injecting insulin when those levels become too high. In addition to monitoring blood glucose levels and using insulin, people with type II diabetes may also take an oral medication that helps treat their condition.
Jaime Venditti, State Coordinator, New York Health Works