According to a new report, global diabetes increased by 40% between 2014 and 2016. There was a 69% increase in North and South America in 2016 alone!
There are now over 420 million people worldwide who have diabetes. According to the World Health Organization’s 2016 Global Report on Diabetes, the annual cost of treating the disease is $827 billion.
This disease is truly devastating to our health and to our healthcare system. So, how can we prevent these numbers from rising further? By educating ourselves and our neighbors, and holding each other accountable for pursuing our best health.
Education begins at ground level. By clarifying and reinforcing the basics, then expanding knowledge of tools and resources.
High blood sugar impacts the human body in several ways. While an individual with high blood sugar may not show symptoms at first, as blood sugar remains unregulated, its affects will begin to appear.
One of the first symptoms of high blood sugar is excessive urination. The body has too much sugar circulating in the blood stream and is trying to flush it out. The more someone urinates, the more dehydrated he or she will become.
This dehydration will cause intense thirst. A huge indicator of high blood sugar is the feeling that one can never get enough to drink. Since the body is running low on fuel, an individual may feel more tired than usual.
High blood sugar makes the blood thicker and makes it harder for the heart to pump through the body. As the blood thickens, it reaches a sticky, syrup-like consistency. It is very difficult for the heart to pump that thickened blood throughout the body, especially to small blood vessels. Some of the smallest blood vessels are in some of the most important places – brain, eyes, nerves, heart, and kidneys.
Diabetic Ketoacidosis is one very serious result of prolonged elevated blood sugar. Ketoacidosis occurs when a buildup of ketones in your blood (due to high blood sugar) makes the blood too acidic. This can poison the body, causing coma and even death.
These symptoms and complications of diabetes are frightening, and they are very, very real. We must prioritize our health and do as much as we can to keep blood sugar under control. This breaks down to diet and lifestyle changes.
Eat more fat! Contrary to popular belief, fat is not the enemy. Our bodies need healthy fats to survive and to function well. Good fats give you energy and keep you feeling full longer. Avocados, walnuts, almonds, flaxseeds, wild salmon, grass-fed meat, organic free-range eggs, organic butter, and olive oil are all excellent sources of healthy fats.
Increase your fiber intake, as well. Fiber slows the absorption of blood sugar into the bloodstream. This keeps blood sugar lower and steadier. Fiber also keeps your bowels healthy and a healthy gut means a healthy body!
Eat regularly. Skipping meals can cause sugar to drop, and eating a huge meal to make up for it can cause sugar to skyrocket. Be sure to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner each day. Talk with your doctor to see if snacking in between meals would be a good way to keep sugar stable, as well.
Drink water! The more water you drink, the more successfully the body can flush excess sugar and other toxins from your blood stream. Stay clear of sodas, sports drinks, and energy drinks as they contain a ton of sugar and can dehydrate you further.
Physical activity is a great way to keep blood sugar levels in the normal range. Hitting the gym a few days a week, or walking nightly after dinner, whatever works best for you. If you push your body too hard, however, sugar levels can drop too low and leave you feeling weak and shaky.
The best way to stay on top of your blood sugar is to check it regularly. The most common times to check blood sugar are upon waking in the morning, one to two hours after a meal, and before bed. This will give a clear view of how your sugar reacts to your daily routines.
Speak with your healthcare team if your blood sugar is frequently higher or lower than your target range. If your sugar is not well controlled, your physician may advise you to make changes to your diet, exercise regimen, or adjust your prescription medications.
Stay accountable to yourself, your healthcare team, family and friends. Sometimes they may notice things that you do not. For example, “You don’t look so good, are you feeling okay?” This may prompt you to check your sugar just to be safe.
The idea of blood sugar rising or falling outside of your control is a very scary thing. However, by staying informed, putting forth the effort, and keeping yourself accountable, you can gain control of your blood sugar and your overall health. Together, we can heal diabetes.