Kicking Off Diabetes Awareness Month – Prevention Saves Lives!

This post was authored by Rachel Leyko and posted to The Eye Opener on November 2nd, 2010.

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November marks Diabetes Awareness Month. Most people believe diabetes to be a benign disease, one that does not cause high risk complications and is easily managed through proper insulin administration.  However, diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States and increases one’s risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, nervous system damage and amputation.


Diabetes is a chronic condition that impairs the body’s ability to use food for energy.  The hormone, insulin, made in the pancreas, is a hormone that allows glucose (sugar) to enter cells and be converted to energy. When diabetes is not controlled, glucose and fats remain in the blood and, over time, damage vital organs.  There are several types of diabetes: Type I, Type II, prediabetes and gestational diabetes.

Type I – usually diagnosed in children and young adults. Type I diabetes can be caused by genetics, environment or an autoimmune disorder. It affects 5% of the diabetic population and there is no known way to prevent this type.

Type II – is linked to obesity and physical inactivity. It is also associated with older age, family history of diabetes, history of gestational diabetes, impaired glucose metabolism, race, and ethnicity. This type of the disease affects 90-95% of the diabetic population.

Prediabetes- is a condition in which a person has blood glucose levels higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. An estimated 57 million American adults had prediabetes in 2007. People with this condition have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

Gestational Diabetes – is a form of glucose intolerance diagnosed during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes occurs more frequently among African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, and American Indians. It is also more common in obese women and women with a family history of diabetes. Gestational diabetes requires treatment to normalize maternal blood glucose levels to avoid complications in the infant. Women who have had gestational diabetes have a 35%–60% chance of developing diabetes during the 10–20 years following their pregnancy.


Diabetes is a costly disease with $1 out of every $10 spent on health care going towards diabetes and its complications. Total costs (direct and indirect) of diabetes are $174 billion annually. Furthermore, people with diagnosed diabetes have medical expenditures that are about 2.3 times higher than medical expenditures for people without diabetes.


If current trends continue, 1 in 3 Americans will develop diabetes sometime in their lifetime, and those with diabetes will lose, on average, 10–15 years of life.The United States saw a 136 percent increase in the number of people with diabetes between 1980 and 2007. Now, nearly 24 million Americans have the disease. However, research has shown that Type II diabetes, which affects the majority of diabetics, is preventable.  Lifestyle changes, including weight loss and an increase in the amount of physical activity per week, can reduce the rate of onset of type 2 diabetes by 58%. Further, disability and premature death are not inevitable consequences of diabetes. People with diabetes can prevent premature death and disability by controlling their blood glucose, blood pressure, and blood lipids and by receiving other preventive care in a timely manner through proper medication administration and lifestyle changes.

Making those lifestyle changes with regard to diet and exercise are not easy. However, the health costs and risks for not making those changes is enormous. So – let’s raise the level of awareness for this disease so we can prevent future cases and help those already afflicted with the disease to better manage their symptoms. As part of our pledge to stop diabetes, Nash & Associates will be posting periodic fitness tips, statistics and maybe an occasional recipe or two for healthy alternatives to some of our favorite not-so-good for you dishes.

If you have a health tip or dietary trick to share in support of Diabetes Awareness Month, please post a comment below! Tell us your story of how this horrible disease has affected you, a family member or a friend or and share with all of us some great stories of how you, a family member or friend beat this dreaded disease.

For more information about diabetes, you can always visit the American Diabetes Association website.

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5 Responses to “Kicking Off Diabetes Awareness Month – Prevention Saves Lives!”

  1. Kiky SmithNo Gravatar says:

    I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes while pregnant with my only child. Unable to control it with diet and exercise I had to give myself insulin injections twice a day and check my blood sugar 5 times a day. Poking oneself with needles 7 times a day while pregnant isn’t exactly the most fun. I did everything I had to in order to ensure a healthy baby and mom. I also worked out several days a week at a gym up until 2 weeks prior to giving birth.

    After my daughter was born at a healthy 6 pounds 15 ounces I was sent home…no more monitoring…about a year after her birth I could tell that I didn’t quite “feel right.” I took it upon myself to find an endocrinologist and have my bloodwork checked. Low and behold I found out that I am now Type II. Funny thing is that I don’t fit the typical “overweight and lacking exercise” group that everyone wants to throw Type II diabetics into. I am healthy and active; I’m just unfortunate to have inherited the “crappy” genes in the family. I’ve been Type II since shortly after my daughter’s birth – not the 10-20 yrs after. At this time I am lucky enough that I can control my diabetes with oral medication, diet and exercise. I know that in the future I will probably have to be on insulin…I hope those days are far, far into the future.

    Diabetes is a silent killer. It is imperative to remain active, eat healthy foods that are low in carbohydrates, high in fiber and protein etc. One of my favorite breakfast meals is to cook egg whites with spinach, mushrooms and scallions over the top of a high fiber/lo carb English muffin. I do still use raw organic sugar in my coffee – that’s my one treat and OK by my doctor (and right now I’m really trying to stay away from my daughter’s Halloween candy :) . There really are so many fantastic recipes and alternatives out there to lead a healthier life. As with everything – moderation is the key.

    If you are diagnosed with diabetes, consult a nutritionist, research the web and make a change – you might just like the wrench that’s been thrown your way. You’ll be surprised at how much healthier and energetic of a life you will lead.

  2. Lauren M.No Gravatar says:

    What is a “brittle” diabetic?

  3. Brian NashNo Gravatar says:

    Kiky – thanks so much for sharing this story with all of us. I must say, I had no idea until you told us that you could wind-up a Type II diabetic after having gestational diabetes. I’ve handled a number of Erb’s palsy cases secondary to gestational diabetes. The usual mantra is that the only effective treatment for gestational diabetes is delivery. Seems like that didn’t quite do the trick for you.

    I cannot begin to tell you, Kiky, the number of cases involving wound complications, increased surgical risks assessments, and on and on, that I have handled over 36 years of doing this work. People just don’t seem to appreciate what a “silent” and not-so-silent killer this is.

    I love and greatly appreciate your tips on some recipes (I don’t have diabetes and the “favorite” breakfast meal sounds GREAT) – but as you say – moderation is the key.

    I hope a ton of people read your post and get to appreciate more about diabetes and take to heart your advice – “consult a nutritionist, research the web and make a change.” Great comments, Kiky.

  4. Brian NashNo Gravatar says:


    Why not quote people who know: “Brittle diabetes, also called labile diabetes, is a term used to describe uncontrolled type 1 diabetes. People with brittle diabetes frequently experience large swings in blood sugar (glucose) levels. These cause either hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) or hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), which is more common and sometimes extreme.”

    This is from Here’s a good link –

    Thanks for asking.
    Brian Nash and Rachel Leyko

  5. Kiky SmithNo Gravatar says:

    Lauren – Brittle diabetics are those that often have Type I and severe cases; very hard to control. Here is a bit more on brittle diabetics


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