February 27, 2009

What you need to know about Diabetes

By Gayle Sanders

In the United States, there are over 23 million people who have diabetes (American Diabetes Association, 2008). Diabetes is a disease that is caused by a high level of blood sugar because the body does not produce enough insulin, or because the insulin produced does not work properly. Having diabetes can increase the risk for many other serious problems such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, blindness, or kidney disease.

There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body stops making its own insulin to control blood sugar levels. People with Type 1 diabetes must take regular insulin injections to survive and it usually affects children and young adults. Type 2 diabetes is more common, and begins when our body stops using its insulin properly. Over time, our body may stop producing insulin completely. Type 2 diabetes is related to older age, obesity, lack of physical activity, and race/ethnicity, along with other factors. Latinos are at a much higher risk for developing Type 2 diabetes, but there are some very easy steps to help prevent Type 2 diabetes from developing, or to control diabetes.

Eating a healthy diet and engaging in physical activity are two of the best ways to help prevent or control diabetes. Engaging in thirty minutes of moderate to vigorous levels of physical activity each day can be beneficial to your health. This can be as simple as walking briskly taking the dog for a walk, working in the yard, or going dancing with friends and/or a partner.

With just 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity at least 5 days a week you can lower your blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol, reducing your risk for heart disease and stroke. Physical activity also helps the insulin in the body work better, builds strong bones and muscles, and helps to relieve stress. If you are trying to lose weight, regular physical activity along with making healthy food choices will help you reach your goal.

Eating healthy is a great idea for all of us, and is not that hard to do. It is especially important for children to eat healthy foods during their development. Plan meals so that your family eats a wide variety of foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, non-fat dairy products, beans, and lean meats, poultry and fish. Buying items when they are in season will also help save money. Make sure to take the time to eat a healthy breakfast. A piece of whole-grain toast with a hardboiled egg and sliced fresh fruit is a great healthy breakfast choice. Serve fresh fruits and vegetables as a side dish for lunches and dinner. Healthy food choices tend to have many necessary vitamins, minerals and fiber which are very important for weight control and overall health.

By doing a little planning before going to the market and being physically active, you and your family will enjoy a happy and healthy lifestyle. Let’s all get moving and planning!

For more information about physical activity programs in the South Bay region of San Diego county, please contact us at: Familias Sanas y Activas (619) 594-2965. This health tip is brought to you by the San Diego Prevention Research Center.

Return to the Frontpage