Diabetes mellitus poses challenges for millions of people throughout the world; characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels, diabetes results from a malfunction in the body’s ability to use and/or produce insulin. Whether you have or are at risk for type 1 or type 2 diabetes, there can be countless consequences for your health. Fortunately, however, modern medicine has produced various methods of coping with the disease, and even small lifestyle changes can shed some optimism on an otherwise discouraging diagnosis. Here are some ways you can learn to live with – and in some cases prevent – diabetes mellitus:
- Type 1 doesn’t have to damper the fun: Type 1 diabetes is most often diagnosed in children and young adults and accounts for only about five to 10 percent of people with diabetes. For these diabetics, the body does not produce insulin, and so daily activities most often include regular “finger pokes” and insulin shots to monitor and manage blood glucose levels. While there isn’t necessarily anything a type 1 diabetic can do to “reverse” the diagnosis, there are ways that sufferers – especially children – can learn to live long, healthy and happy lives.
A great way for kids to learn about diabetes is by attending one of the American Diabetes Association’s Diabetes Camps. They’ll meet other kids who may feel confused by their disease, and learn the “how to’s” of staying healthy. Counselors work one-on-one with campers to promote self-care, as well as self-confidence. The best part? It’s fun! Kids definitely won’t be bored with all the camp games and activities the ADA has to offer.
- Don’t let type 2 get the best of you: Occurring when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin or cells become resistant to insulin, type 2 diabetes impacts millions of Americans. The good news is that this form of diabetes mellitus is often preventable. While you can’t change risk factors like age, family history and ethnicity, you can eat healthier, lose weight and become more physically active. The Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study Group proved this when they examined 500 pre-diabetic or borderline diabetic individuals; by improving physical activity and weight loss, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes was reduced by more than 50 percent!
To cut your own risk in half, start by eating a balanced diet – which means sugar, salt and fat should be consumed in small portions. Also, pay attention to how many carbohydrates you eat. Next, load up on water and try to exercise at least 30 minutes a day, even if that means just a walk around the block.
Check out the American Diabetes Association at www.diabetes.org to learn more about living with diabetes. The website features everything from cookbooks and fitness guides to support groups and community news. There may not be a quick fix for this disease, but as research evolves, there are certainly more and more ways of controlling diabetes’ negative effects.