November is National Diabetes Month
In this day and age, it’s almost impossible to not know someone who has diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, 34 million Americans have diabetes, and 1 in 5 doesn’t even know it! In perspective, this equates to roughly 1 in 11 Americans. Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States and that number has more than doubled in the past 20 years as the American population has aged and become more overweight and sedentary. Most alarming is that over 88 million Americans or one third of our entire population is Prediabetic- meaning that their blood sugar levels are above normal and are trending towards diabetes!
In recognition of this dangerous disease, November is National American Diabetes Month, and so we want to enlighten you about how we can all prevent as well as treat this condition.
So first- lets learn more about Diabetes. Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a metabolic disease that affects how the body deals with sugar intake. Sugars of varying forms are found in almost everything we eat, and blood sugar (also known as blood glucose) are humans’ main source of energy. Within the body, blood glucose is created by the liver and muscles. In order for the cells in your body to have energy, they need to have the glucose carried by the blood.
To help carry glucose to the cells of the body, the organ called the pancreas releases the hormone called insulin. In healthy individuals, this system works very well; however, for others, sometimes the body does not make enough insulin to account for all the blood sugar, or the insulin does not function as it was designed to. Without proper insulin levels to help keep blood glucose in check, the blood glucose levels can rise too high and can cause prediabetes or diabetes, and in the long run this can cause some serious health problems.
Now there are basically two types of Diabetes:
Type 1 Diabetes– Formerly known as juvenile diabetes, Type 1 is now increasingly affecting adults as well as children. In Type 1 diabetes, the body cannot make enough insulin or none at all due to the patient’s immune system has destroyed the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. Patients with Type 1 typically need to take shots of insulin.
Type 2 Diabetes– Traditionally called adult-onset diabetes, Type 2 diabetes can affect anyone, but most commonly affects middle aged and older patients, as well as those who are sedentary and are overweight. In Type 2 diabetes, glucose has a difficult time fueling the body’s tissues because the body resists insulin, so the pancreas has to make more insulin to compensate. Over time, the pancreas slows its insulin production down and will not make enough insulin when blood glucose levels rise.
The signs and symptoms of diabetes can vary based on how severe the condition is, but typically include: intense feelings of thirst, hunger, and fatigue, urinating very often, unexpected weight loss, slow healing sores or frequent infection, dry, itching skin and /or sensation of pins, needles, or numbness in hands or feet.
Now for the good news- Diabetes is one of those diseases that can be treated very effectively naturally… IF YOU TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. Research has shown that a proper and nutritious diet and regular physical exercise can help patients with diabetes. A typical diabetic patient should consume between 1,600-2,000 calories a day, and should break down the food into the following servings: healthy starches such as whole grains, fresh dark green or brightly colored vegetables, fresh fruits, lean meats and fish, and healthy fats.
Exercise is equally important. Physical activity helps insulin absorb glucose more efficiently, which means fuel for your muscles! Physical activity helps blood glucose stay in an ideal target range.
Finally- remember that patients with diabetes are very likely to have limited joint mobility and may experience stiffness or muscle pain, while some patients may develop problems with the nerves, blood vessels, and muscles in their arms or legs. Since chiropractors work closely with the muscles, joints, bones, and nerves of the human body, we can help with restoring joint function and reducing some of the symptoms of diabetes. Chiropractors are advocates for proper nutrition and regular exercise, and can help diabetic patients with making lifestyle modifications. In any case, chiropractors should always be working with your primary care physician or endocrinologist to make sure your diabetes is properly managed.
In our office, we treat many patients with diabetes- and with proper chiropractic care, exercises that we prescribe, and diet and nutritional recommendations- we are able to help them not only live with Diabetes but thrive! So if you or any loved one has any questions about diabetes and how to live with it more effectively- please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.