Sunday, November 21, 2010

What do you do if you get diagnosed with diabetes?

A New York Times articles states some pretty sobering statistics about type II diabetes.

  • One out of every 10 people in America has diabetes (if that's not a staggering reflection on the general health of the nation, I don't know what is)

  • By the year 2050, it's predicted that one in every three Americans will have diabetes

  • Twenty-five percent of those with type II diabetes do not get the care they need.

When I was a disability examiner working on social security disability and SSI claims, I would routinely see allegations on new claims involving A) amputations and B) neuropathy, all diabetes, mainly type II. Unfortunately, by the time an individual starts having symptomology to this level, the likelihood of beating back the the disease is probably fairly slim. I don't mean to issue that as a proclamation for everyone. It's just likely to be the case for most patients.

Dealing with diabetes doesn't have to be difficult. And here's a short list of things to keep in mind if you happen to get diagnosed with the condition.

1. Watch your diet. Type II diabetes is different from type I because there are multiple causes for the development of the condition and even in a single individual there may be multiple reasons for it. Your pancreas may not be producing enough insulin, your tissues may be resistant to insulin, your liver may be releasing too much glucose. However, a relative degree of physical inactivity and carrying too much weight typically corresponds to an initial diagnosis of diabetes. And in recent years, scientific health information seems to indicate that carrying too much mid-section and visceral fat can have a contributing effect. So, dropping weight drop and, at the very least, not gaining weight, should be a high priority for a type II patient. And such goals will, by necessity, usually require watching one's diet.

How do you do that? Making sure that the calories you consume are of higher quality is one way to start. So, reduce your consumption of empty calorie foods and aim for nutritious vegetables, lean meats, and better carbohydrate sources, meaning carbs that do not come from highly processed foods but are the types that are more slowly digested and less likely to contribute to sugar spikes that require your pancreas to work harder by releasing more insulin (which can be a double-edged sword if your own type II diabetes situation involves insulin resistance). You may also want to reduce the number of grams of carbohydrate you consume each day, or at least be more choosy about where you get your carbs from.

2. Increase your physical activity. Burning more calories than you take in is an approach devoid of gimmickry. And other than consuming fewer calories the only way to achieve this goal is to exercise. Engaging in exercise does not mean having to run marathons. It can be as simple as engaging in a thirty minute walk each day. If you read the health section of your local paper or online news source, no doubt you'll have seen articles that, increasingly, take the position that routine daily exercise can help to keep your weight down, improve your muscle tone, and contribute to healthier glucose levels.

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