Diabetes Education and Prevention | Benefits Collaborative

Diabetes is a long-lasting health condition that affects how your body converts food to energy. Diabetes patients are unable to make enough of the hormone called insulin or cannot use the insulin that is made in their body efficiently.  When this happens, your body can respond in some serious ways that include liver damage, heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease.

There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the body just stops making insulin. These patients are usually diagnosed as children, teens, or early adults. Type 2 diabetes is a result of your body not using the insulin produced in an efficient manner. About 90% of all diabetic patients are type 2 cases. But, through education and prevention, the effects of diabetes on a person’s body can be lessened.

How is food converted to energy?

When you eat food, most of it is converted to sugar (glucose) and released into your bloodstream to provide you with the energy you need to do daily tasks. When your blood sugar levels increase, your pancreas is then activated to release insulin into your body’s cells and use it for energy. Insulin not only helps convert glucose to energy, but it also helps our body store glucose for future energy use.

Diabetes = Broken Process

In some people, the conversion process is interrupted and the message to the pancreas to release insulin into the cells to use for energy is done ineffectively. These patients have trouble balancing the correct amount of insulin in their cells and so therefore have a harder time maintaining energy levels. Diabetic patients try to get rid of extra sugar (blood sugar level of 180 +) through the kidneys and therefore have the need to urinate more often. When releasing large amounts of sugar through urine, it means that there is less available to convert to energy and leads to lethargy, loss of appetite, and excess burning of body fat.

Education & Prevention is Key

For people with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, understanding how your body processes sugar and maintains healthy blood sugar levels is paramount. Those with type 1 diabetes require daily insulin shots to keep blood sugar levels even. These patients are unable to reverse this autoimmune disease and solely rely on insulin shots to level out glucose levels. Those with type 2 diabetes can control the progression of this disease by making healthy diet choices and exercising regularly. In some cases, type 2 diabetics also have to include insulin shots or diabetes pills.

November is National Diabetes Month and is a great opportunity to adopt healthy lifestyle habits. Maintaining blood sugar levels through diet and exercise as well as becoming aware of the effects of the eating choices you make is key to understanding this disease. For more information on diabetes and how to make good choices, visit the American Diabetes Association website.

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