In America, the rate of diabetes has nearly doubled over the last 20 years. Now, more than 29 million American adults have diabetes and another 86 million have prediabetes. This makes National Diabetes Month, which occurs during the month of November, a particularly important month. Whether you’re someone who has diabetes, someone whose life has been affected by this disease, or someone who simply wants to learn more, there are plenty of ways to make the most of a month devoted to diabetes! Ready to get involved?
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease that occurs when your blood sugar is too high. A hormone produced by your pancreas called insulin helps get the glucose from your blood to your cells to use for energy. Sometimes, your body doesn’t produce enough – or any – insulin or doesn’t use it as it should. This means that sugar stays in your blood which, over time, causes health issues such as:
- heart disease
- kidney disease
- eye problems
- dental disease
- nerve damage
Types of Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes occurs when your body doesn’t produce insulin of its own. This is because the cells in your pancreas responsible for creating it have been attacked by your immune system, which means that you must take insulin each day to remain healthy. Although this type is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, it can occur at any age.
This type of diabetes means that your body does not make or use insulin as it should. It most often in middle-aged and older people, but type 2 diabetes is rising rapidly in children and adolescents worldwide. Type 2 is the most common type of diabetes and is considered an “epidemic” in the United States.
Getting Involved for National Diabetes Month
1. Commit to a healthy change for one month.
We make a number of decisions each day that affect our health + wellness. So many, in fact, that we don’t think about many of them while we make them! Some of these choices affect your blood sugar directly while others have a more indirect effect such as being able to carry out daily activities. Whether you are currently living with this disease or not, making small changes is a great way to improve your lifestyle and create healthier habits that last! Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Get more sleep
- Drink more water
- Swap your dessert for fruit
- Use your phone’s pedometer
- Try a new fruit or vegetable
2. Observe World Diabetes Day on November 14
Did you know that World Diabetes Day falls on November 14th because it is the birthday of Frederick Banting, the man who co-discovered insulin with Charles Best. The day was named in 1991 to draw attention to the growing health threat, but it didn’t become an official United Nations Day until 2007. You can find activities at community centers, gyms, local parks, and even many athletic stores around the country! Make sure to check your local events page for 5ks, exercise classes, and workshops near you!
3. Make an appointment with a CDE.
A CDE is a Certified Diabetes Educator. This title shows that the given health professional has completed at least 2,000 hours of hands-on diabetes education and passed an examination given by the National Certification Board of Diabetes Educators. Whether you want information on diabetes in general, how to support and care for someone who has diabetes, or specific questions about your own condition, these are the right people to go to! You can find a CDE in your area here.
4. Cross something off of your “Diabetes To-Do List”.
Whether you’ve been putting off an appointment, meaning to eat better, or aiming to be more physically active, now is the time to make it happen! If you have general goals such as “eat healthier”, take a moment to plan specific steps to help you get there. You can plan to pack your lunch for a week, replace one serving of grains with a serving of vegetables each day, or learn to cook a new meal each week!
If you have more specific goals that just keep slipping your mind such as entering emergency contacts into your phone or putting together a sick day kit, set aside time to schedule these into your planner or phone with a reminder!
5. Find or offer your support.
Living with diabetes is a process that often takes a toll on those who must manage it each day. If you’re feeling frustrated, lost, or confused then make a point to reach out to support groups online or in your community. Most towns offer activities, groups, and meet-ups meant to educate and support you as you navigate the day-to-day obstacles. You aren’t alone. It is also a great way to offer others support and tips you’ve found to be helpful on your journey! Check your local doctor’s office, community center, gym, or hospital for groups near you!
How are you getting involved with National Diabetes Month? Tell us in the comments!
1. What is Diabetes?