Taking charge of your health on Diabetes Alert Day

Taking charge of your health on Diabetes Alert Day

Parkland provider encourages community to know their diabetes risk and take action

In the United States, approximately 38 million people are living with diabetes, and about 1 in 5 of them don’t even know they have it, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These staggering numbers highlight the importance of raising awareness about diabetes and its risk factors. Diabetes Alert Day, observed annually on the fourth Tuesday of March, serves as a wake-up call for individuals to assess their risk of developing type 2 diabetes and to take proactive steps toward better health.

Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects how your body turns food into energy. Food is turned into sugar, or glucose, and then released into your bloodstream. The pancreas creates insulin, which allows the blood sugar to enter your cells for energy. Without the right amount of insulin too much blood sugar stays in your bloodstream and over time can lead to serious health problems, such as heart disease, vision loss and kidney disease. Diabetes is a leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the CDC.

Type 2 diabetes, also known as adult-onset diabetes, is the most common form of diabetes. Risk factors include being overweight or obese, a family history of diabetes or not getting enough physical activity. Prediabetes, a condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not yet in the diabetic range, serves as a warning sign that lifestyle changes and medical interventions are needed to prevent the progression to type 2 diabetes.

For Uma Gunasekaran, MD, endocrinologist and executive medical director of the Global Diabetes Program at Parkland, Diabetes Alert Day serves as a crucial reminder for individuals to assess their risk factors for diabetes and take preventive action. “At Parkland, our team is always working diligently to raise awareness about the importance of early detection and lifestyle changes,” said Dr. Gunasekaran. “Through education and community outreach, we are empowering our patients to make informed choices about their health.”

Regardless of if you are prediabetic, have type 2 diabetes or simply want to reduce your risk, making healthy lifestyle choices is key. Ways to help improve your overall health and reduce your risk of diabetes include:

  • Eating healthy: Focusing on a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats. Limit intake of refined carbohydrates, sugary beverages and processed foods. Portion control and mindful eating can help manage blood sugar levels and promote overall health.
  • Regular physical activity: Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, such as brisk walking or cycling. Incorporating strength training into your exercise routine can improve muscle mass and insulin sensitivity. Regular exercise not only helps control your blood sugar but also reduces the risk of cardiovascular complications that can be associated with diabetes.
  • Weight management: Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is critical for diabetes prevention and management. Even minor weight loss can significantly improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. By making gradual and sustainable changes in your diet and physical activity you can reach your healthy weight goals.
  • Monitoring blood sugar levels: For those who are prediabetic or have type 2 diabetes, regular blood sugar monitoring will provide valuable insights into how your body responds to food, exercise and medications. Your Parkland diabetes care team will work closely with you to establish target ranges and develop a personalized monitoring plan.
  • Prioritize sleep and stress management: Not getting enough sleep and chronic stress can contribute to insulin resistance and disrupt blood sugar regulation. Aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep per night and find ways to reduce your stress, such as journaling or taking an evening walk.

At Parkland, our diabetes programs are dedicated to the health and well-being of the individuals and communities entrusted to our care. To learn more about living with diabetes, visit www.parklanddiabetes.com.

For more information about Parkland, please visit www.parklandhealth.org.