Friday, January 25, 2008
Battling type-2 diabetes
21 million. I usually try not to start a blog with a number. But in this case, I'll make an exception, because the figure is jaw dropping.
21 million Americans have some form of diabetes. That's more than the entire population of the state of New York! And of those 21 million, around 90 percent have type 2 diabetes, which is usually brought on by obesity and genetics. So if you're overweight and have diabetes in your family, you're a prime candidate. But you don't have to be.
Diabetes 2 can be prevented; it just takes a few lifestyle changes. Studies have shown that even people who have Type 2 diabetes can turn the disease around, if they change their diets, lose weight and get exercise. Sounds so simple, but why is it that millions of Americans don't do it? Because changing the way you live, isn't always easy. Just ask Michelle Dowtin of Philadelphia.
Since she was a teen, Michelle has struggled with her weight. A mother of four, she developed gestational diabetes with each pregnancy. After giving birth it went away. But once her youngest twins were born, she was told she had type 2 diabetes. "The doctor tried to control it with changing my diet," she said. "That didn't work, so I had to go on medication." Michelle admits it's tough to keep to a weight-loss program. And being in her late 30s makes it even tougher.
As we age, and get into our 40s, the chance of contracting type 2 diabetes almost doubles, especially if you have a family history. Doctors say you should be thinking about diabetes when you're younger, in your 20s and 30s. Check if anyone in your family has diabetes -- parents, grandparents, siblings. Watch your weight. In some women, like Michelle, pregnancy can bring on gestational diabetes, a condition that if not taken care of, has a 20 to 50 percent chance of leading to diabetes later in life. As you get older, maintain a healthy weight. According to Dr. Guenther Boden, director of endocrinology at Temple University School of Medicine, staying slim and physically active "cuts your chances of becoming a type 2 diabetic by 60 percent."
Also, keep an eye on your numbers. Know your blood pressure and cholesterol. When you have a yearly exam, ask your doctor to take a glucose or blood sugar level. High sugar numbers can indicate you are pre-diabetic. And get off the couch!!! Even walking 30 minutes a day and limiting your calories can keep you from becoming a diabetic.
Since the new year, Michelle Dowtin has made it her goal to lose some weight. She's now on a supervised portion-control program she seems comfortable with. She hopes that by living a healthier life, she can pass on this lifestyle to her kids, so they won't have to deal with diabetes in their futures.
Do you suffer from type 2 Diabetes? Does someone in your family have it?
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