During the month of November, Special Olympics Pennsylvania (SOPA) is recognizing Diabetes Awareness Month by helping athletes learn about and prevent diabetes melitus (DM). DM is one of the most common diseases among Americans and affects those with intellectual disability at a much greater rate. Those with intellectual disabilities tend to receive fewer diabetes exams and less diabetes care than those without disabilities. By making healthy choices and making sure you see your doctor routinely you can help prevent your risk for Diabetes.
What is Diabetes Melitus?
DM is a long-lasting health condition that is related to high levels of blood sugar. This condition relates to a hormone released from your pancreas called insulin, which helps us manage our blood sugar levels. For a person with diabetes, their body does not make enough insulin or cannot use it as well as it should. This can lead to a buildup of sugar in the bloodstream which can result in serious health problems like heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease.
There are different types of diabetes:
- Prediabetes: Slightly high blood glucose levels in addition to heart health changes taking place
- Type 1 Diabetes: A small or no production of insulin by the pancreas. This type of Diabetes is genetic and is not reversible.
- Type 2 Diabetes: Not enough production of insulin by the pancreas and the body is not able to use insulin properly. This type of Diabetes can be reversible with healthy lifestyle changes and weight loss.
To help prevent your risk for developing Type 2 Diabetes or to help reverse a diagnosis of prediabetes or Type 2 Diabetes it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Follow these tips below for more details.
Four lifestyle/nutritional tips for preventing Type 2 DM:
- Participate in physical activity:
Exercise can prevent type 2 DM by helping with weight loss, lowering blood sugar, and increasing your body’s ability to use insulin. Finding the sports and activities you enjoy can help you stay motivated. A goal of 150 minutes of physical activity per week can decrease your risk for Diabetes.
- Consume more foods high in fiber:
Eating enough fiber is shown to provide many benefits like improved bowel movement, weight loss, and lower cholesterol levels! Fiber is also important for those with diabetes because it helps manage blood glucose levels.
High fiber foods
- Fruits and vegetables
- Whole-grain foods like bread, brown rice, cereals etc.
- Beans and legumes
- Low fat Popcorn
- Drink water and sugar free drinks
Sugary drinks and beverages can add to your daily sugar intake and total calories. Extra sugar that you eat can be stored as fat over time. Drinking soft drinks, fruit juice, sports drinks, and other sugary drinks regularly over time can lead to weight gain, which can lead to a higher risk of diabetes.
- Eat Fruits and Vegetables, 3-5 servings a day
Fruits and vegetables are low in calories and high in fiber. They can be a filling way to add many vitamins and minerals to your diet and keep you feeling full and satisfied. Filling your plate with fruits and vegetables instead of extra carbohydrates and added fats can lower your risk of diabetes. Eating fruits and vegetables for snacks is a healthier choice than many high fat and high sugary snacks too!
If you or someone you know is diagnosed with Diabetes or Prediabetes it is important to talk with your healthcare provider to help manage your blood sugar and prevent any future problems related to diabetes. If you need help finding a provider in your area, Special Olympics Pennsylvania can help. Check out our Provider Director for Diabetes Self-Management and Education locations in your area.