First Posted: 1/15/2009
November is American Diabetes Month, and an estimated 1.4 million people in North Carolina have diabetes or pre-diabetes. Since more than a third of adults have never had a diabetes blood test, many of those with pre-diabetes are not aware of their condition. The death rates from diabetes among blacks is 175 per 100,000, American Indians, 149 per 100,000, and whites, 83 per 100,000.
This is not new information for many here in Robeson County as we rank second for diabetes mortality in North Carolina behind only Bertie County. In fact, the age-adjusted death rates for Bertie County and Robeson County are more than twice as high as the rates for all other North Carolina counties and the United States.
About 9 percent of Lumbee Indians older than age 18 in Robeson County have been diagnosed with diabetes, compared with a statewide diabetes rate of about 5 percent.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form, where either the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells ignore the insulin. So what exactly does that mean?
— Insulin is necessary for the body to use sugar.
— Sugar is the basic fuel for the cells in our body.
— Insulin takes the sugar from the blood into the cells.
— When sugar (glucose) builds up in the blood instead of the cells, your cells become starved for energy and over time your high blood sugar levels can affect your heart, kidneys, liver and eyes.
And, as quitting smoking can help those avoid lung cancer, weight loss can help people with diabetes in two important ways:
1. Weight loss lowers insulin resistance, which helps lower blood sugar levels.
2. It improves blood fat and blood pressure levels reducing the risk for cardiovascular disease.
It’s important to remember that losing even a relatively small amount of weight can make a real improvement in reducing your risk for diabetes. And now may be the best time to finally get around to creating, and sticking to that wellness plan as we approach the “dreaded” holiday season and Friday night’s Halloween trick-or-treating.
Here are some simple tips to help you, or those in your family living with diabetes, as we find ourselves face-to-face with Halloween candy:
— Have your diabetes supplies (i.e., meter, glucose tabs, gel or juice) with you when trick-or-treating.
— Do your homework first. Look up the carb count of different candies before you go so you know how much you’re getting.
— Don’t overdo it on the candy. Candy doesn’t go bad like milk or fruit, so take your time getting through your collection.
— Or better yet, give some of the candy away! No one needs that much candy.
— Adjust your insulin to balance out the candy you do eat.
— Remember to test often.
So enjoy a few small pieces of candy, but avoid the temptation of having “just one more” because that’s what will pack on the pounds, and most importantly, don’t beat yourself up for having one bad night.
Too often people think one bad night, one bad meal, or even one bad weekend is the beginning of the end to a healthier lifestyle. It’s not. It’s just one small event you need to put behind you and get right back to healthy eating and regular exercise.
Of course, the absolute best way to avoid weight gain, and perhaps even achieve some easy weight loss during the Halloween and upcoming holiday season, is to bump up the amount of exercise you’re getting right now.
At a minimum you should be exercising at least three days a week for at least 30 minutes at a time. But with the holidays coming, along with more stress and more food more often, try exercising at least one to two more days a week while adding another 10 to 15 minutes to each workout.
For information, visit www.diabetes.org.
— Mike DeCinti is the marketing director for Lumberton Radiological Associates. He can be reached at [email protected] or by calling 738-8222, Ext. 258.