Just over one in 10, or about 34.2 million, people in the United States have diabetes. Another 88 million, or approximately 1 in 3, have prediabetes. This number continues to rise year after year. There are three main types of diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes usually starts in children, teens or young adults but can occur at any time. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas does not make insulin, so supplemental insulin injections must be given. Only 5-10% of all people with diabetes have type 1. Symptoms include frequent urination during the night, excessive thirst, unintentional weight loss, blurry vision, numbing or tingling of feet or hands, and slower healing.
The most common type of diabetes is type 2. Generally, this type takes years to develop and often is without symptoms. It is most common in people over age 45, although it is becoming more and more common in children and teens. The risk for type 2 diabetes increases with obesity. With this type of diabetes, the cells do not respond to insulin as they should. This causes the pancreas to produce more insulin, but eventually, it cannot keep up. Oral medications are usually given to people with type 2 diabetes to help with the body’s insulin production, but over time, insulin injections or other treatments also may be needed.
A third type of diabetes, gestational diabetes, occurs only during pregnancy. There are usually no symptoms, but it is common for pregnant women to be tested for gestational diabetes between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy.
Besides medication, diet is an important part of the treatment and control of diabetes. While no food is strictly off-limits, different foods do affect blood sugar differently. In general, a diabetic diet should be high in fiber and whole grains and low in simple sugars and sweets. It should also include lean proteins, low-fat dairy and plenty of fruits and vegetables.
Additionally, other self-care practices are important in helping to manage diabetes.
• Brush and floss your teeth daily. Diabetes increases the risk of gum disease. Extra glucose in your saliva feeds germs in your mouth, which causes gum disease and tooth decay. This also causes more inflammation in the body.
• Check your feet. Diabetes can damage circulation to the feet, making infections easier to get and harder to heal. Diabetes is the leading cause of lower-limb amputations in the United States. Check your feet daily for blisters, sores, redness, or swelling. Make sure your shoes fit well and are not too tight.
• Eat at regular times. Try to keep carbs about the same from meal to meal. Regular meal patterns can help with your blood sugar control. Do not skip meals, and try to have a good mix of starchy carbs, fruits, vegetables, proteins and fats at each meal.
• Move. Regular exercise is important for everyone, but even more so when you have insulin resistance. Check your blood sugar before and after vigorous exercise. Aim for at least 30 minutes of walking, strength training or stretching daily, preferably something that makes you sweat. Be sure to stay hydrated while exercising.
• Know your numbers. Having diabetes increases your risk for heart disease, so learn your numbers: cholesterol/ lipid levels, blood pressure, and A1C (a measure of blood sugar over a period of months).
• Sleep is good. Your body needs regular sleep to help repair and heal your body. Long-term lack of sleep throws your hormones out of whack, causing spikes in blood sugar.
• Stop smoking. Diabetes increases your risk of heart disease, eye disease, stroke, kidney disease, nerve damage and foot problems. If you smoke, your risk is even higher. Smoking can also prevent your body from responding to treatments effectively.
• Manage stress. When you are stressed, your blood glucose levels go up. Find ways to relieve stress. Hobbies, deep breathing exercises or yoga can help.
• Watch alcohol intake. It may be easier to control your blood sugar if you do not drink too much beer, wine or alcohol. Alcohol can make your blood sugar go too low or too high. In addition, some alcoholic beverages are high in carbs.
• Check your blood sugar. Take a few minutes each day to check your blood sugar. It is recommended to check multiple times a day, but develop a routine that you can stick to. Vary the times to get a better picture of your overall blood sugar control. Keep a log to share at your physician visits.
• Be careful of sugar-free products. There are loads of foods that appear to be diabetic-friendly because they do not have any added sugar. However, many foods made with sugar substitutes still have carbs. Read the labels to check for total carbohydrates, not added sugar.
Building healthy lifestyle habits are important aspects for managing your diabetes. The more you know about diabetes and how to treat it, the healthier you will be.
Roasted Cabbage with Horseradish Cream
½ medium head cabbage, cut into 4 wedges
1 Tbsp olive oil
½ tsp salt, divided
½ tsp pepper, divided
½ cup reduced fat sour cream
1 Tbsp prepared horseradish
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place cabbage on a baking sheet, and brush cut sides with oil. Sprinkle with one-quarter teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Roast, flipping once halfway through, until crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, about 20-25 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine sour cream, horseradish and remaining salt and pepper in small bowl. Serve the cabbage with the horseradish sauce
Nutrition Information: 103 calories, 7 g fat, 8 g carbs, 2 g protein, 3 g fiber, 354 mg sodium.