Tuesday, November 14 marks World Diabetes Day (WDD), helping to bring awareness to a condition that affects an astounding 415 million people. Unfortunately, more than 46% of adults with diabetes don’t even know they have it.With 1 in 10 women living with diabetes, this year the theme of WDD is Women and Diabetes. Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes can make it difficult for women to conceive and can cause poor pregnancy outcomes. Additionally, developing gestational diabetes (GDM) during pregnancy can cause complications to both mom and baby. While GDM can reverse after delivery, about 50% of women with a history of GDM later develop Type 2 diabetes.
A diagnosis of any type of diabetes can feel overwhelming and many don’t know how they can possibly manage the condition. Diet and exercise? Medications? Insulin shots? Every day? Shots!? Again, shots!? It is a lot and it can be really scary, but dietitians play a key role in helping people take control.
As dietitians, we have the opportunity to help those with all types of diabetes use the power of diet to manage blood sugar levels. We also have the responsibility to educate people on ways to reduce their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. While Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas doesn’t make any insulin and can’t be prevented, a healthy lifestyle can help reduce the risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. In fact, it’s estimated that a healthy lifestyle can prevent up to 70% of all cases of Type 2 diabetes! The key factors:
- Eating well – including more fiber through whole grains and a variety of fruits and vegetables while watching portion sizes and limiting foods high in fat, sugar and sodium can help with weight control and reduce the risk for many health conditions, not just diabetes!
- Getting active – exercise has been shown to improve insulin resistance, allowing cells to use glucose more effectively for energy. The current recommendation is 150 minutes/week, just 30 minutes 5 days a week.
- Maintaining a healthy weight – if overweight, even a small amount of weight loss (5-7%, which is 10-14 lbs for someone who is 200 lbs) can improve blood glucose control and blood pressure, decrease triglyceride levels and increase HDL levels.
International Diabetes Federation. World Diabetes Day. http://www.worlddiabetesday.org. Accessed November 9, 2017.
Images from: Diabetes Home. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/home/index.html. Accessed November 11, 2017