With my mother’s recent diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes, I became heavily sympathetic. Before I had any connection to Diabetes, I was desensitized as well as simply uneducated in regards to what the condition truly entails. Sometimes situations arise, take you by both shoulders, shake you, and awaken you from your subconscious oblivion. This was my case. Because of my now intensified care surrounding the issue, I really wanted (and continue to want) to do something impactful. I wasn’t sure what that “something” would be, but I knew that I wanted it to be meaningful and more large scale. This brings me to the creation of my platform, “Living Our Best Life: Raising Awareness For The Prevention Of Diabetes”. With this platform, I intend to host fundraisers for the American Diabetes Association as well as educate anyone willing to listen! So without further ado, pull up a chair and make yourself comfortable as I provide you all some steps to take in order to be more educated about Diabetes, how to protect yourself from it, and how to take a stand.
1. Adopt a concrete understanding between Type 1 and Type 2
Lets begin here! Something that I’ve realized is that many people don’t know the difference between Type 1 and Type 2. Understanding this will give you a more concrete basis on what the condition really is. The Sparknotes, simply-stated differentiation is:
Type 1- This most commonly affects children and is referred to as “Juvenile Onset Diabetes”. In this type, the body can’t produce insulin because the insulin cells are attacked by the immune system. Thus, people with this condition are considered insulin dependent. Without insulin, glucose can’t be taken in. This is an issue because glucose provides the body with energy. Type 1 is an autoimmune disease, meaning that this can’t be prevented.
Type 2- This is the most common form of Diabetes and it is called “Adult Onset Diabetes”. It usually affects adults, however, the statistics of children diagnosed with this type is rising. Here, the pancreas begins to produce lesser amounts of insulin, resulting in a deficiency. People with this condition are considered insulin deficient. This is not an autoimmune disease, so measures can be taken to prevent this condition.
2. Be aware of the statistics and detrimental impact
It is no secret that the statistics are alarming. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), 9.4% of the America population has Diabetes. Unfortunately, it is the 7th leading cause of death. To put this into perspective, reflect on the thought that someone you know has Diabetes. The relevancy of this condition is completely all around us. Also, according to WebMD, “Both types of diabetes greatly increase a person’s risk for a range of serious complications. Although monitoring and managing the disease can prevent complications, diabetes remains the leading cause of blindness and kidney failure. It also continues to be a critical risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and foot or leg amputations.” I won’t get too far into the effects, but do understand that Diabetes is at an epidemic level.
3. Become empathetic
As previously stated, I think that the fact that we all know someone with Diabetes is proof of how commonly prevalent it actually is. Assuming that we all know someone that is living and suffering with the effects, why are we oftentimes desensitized to it? Watching my mother struggle with her new medication’s side effects, constantly prick her bruised fingers, and sporadically become sallow skinned and numb while desperately searching for a chair to sit down in isn’t easy. Let’s all agree to refrain from joking about Diabetes. Although it may seem harmless, “Diabetes” is not an adjective used to laughingly describe an unhealthy meal. It is a devastating condition that shapes lives. Let’s always remain sensitive to this.
4. Know your risks
(Disclaimer: This point of mine applies directly to Type 2 Diabetes.)
Although Type 2 can be prevented, heredity comes into play. If you know that your family has a history of Diabetes, listen up! This puts you at a risk for developing Diabetes since you are susceptible to it. In particular, if you are genetically susceptible to this disease, you need to be vigilant. However, even if Diabetes does not necessarily run in your family, you could still develop it. Regardless of your genetics, I urge you to be mindful of preventative measures and symptoms in order to better protect yourself.
5. Stay active
One ironclad way to lower your risk of developing Diabetes is to establish an exercise plan for yourself to follow. Your personal health doctrine, if you will. Setting this in place will help maintain and preserve your health in the best way you know how to. A sedentary lifestyle is incredibly dangerous in regards to the development of Diabetes. Our bodies are beautifully designed for activity, so lets get moving! I know that we often sigh at the thought of exercise, but it can actually be undeniably entertaining with the right attitude and channel of interest. What I mean by that is to take your passions and use them to your health’s benefits. For me, I have been a dancer since the age of three. Dancing, one of my favorite art forms, has become my exercise of choice. I love teaching dance classes as well. Also, I make it a goal and priority to spend a certain amount of time in the gym each week. Whatever it is that strikes your interest, act on it. Decide what method of exercise is your favorite, and simply go for it. There’s no better time than now. Aside from further preventing Diabetes, you can reap the other endless benefits of this (weight loss, cardiovascular care, etc)! There is a myriad of benefits from this. Your body will thank you tremendously.
6. Eat with intention
This one can be a tough one for me. I won’t pretend like I don’t struggle with my seemingly voracious sweet tooth, but something that I’ve learned is that food choices are so relative, especially in the long-run. Am I saying to stop eating sweets? Of course not! Am I saying to limit your sweets intake? That’s more like it. I like to think of our body as a vessel, a vehicle. This transportation that our body offers enables us to go out into the world and make a difference. We all have goals that we plan to accomplish, so why not do all that we can to ensure that our vessel or vehicle doesn’t complicate us from attaining them? Therefore, stay mindful of what you are allowing your body to process. In this world of choices, we need to take advantage of this one. Create a shopping list packed with superfoods and abide by it. Find an accountability partner that shares your mindset. Learn to love water if you haven’t already. There are so many colorful arrays of steps you can take to ensure that you and your body are on the same team.
(For an official printable WebMD shopping list, visit: https://www.webmd.com/diet/printable/healthy-grocery-shopping-list)
7. Know the symptoms
The ADA states that “common symptoms of Diabetes are:
• Urinating often
• Feeling very thirsty
• Feeling very hungry – even though you are eating
• Extreme fatigue
• Blurry vision
• Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
• Weight loss – even though you are eating more (type 1)
• Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands/feet (type 2)”
Early detection is imperative in combating Diabetes altogether.
8. Let your empathy become determination
Now that you know even more about Diabetes, lets take a stand together! Humans gain strength through numbers, so join me in the fight to battle Diabetes. Education and awareness can move mountains. Disseminating your knowledge and passion can do more than you might realize. Even if you’ve only impacted one person, that one person can go tell another person and another person and so on and so forth. It’s a chain reaction, a domino effect of determination and solidarity.