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Nutrition and You!

How Diabetes Affects Your Health and Wallet

Diabetes.jpgAn editorial in the latest Journal of the American Medical Association reminds us that diabetes is affecting both our health and our wallets. It's estimated that 26 million folks in the United States have diabetes and a whopping 79 million adults have prediabetes.

Prediabetes is a condition whereby individuals have a higher than normal blood glucose level but not quite high enough to be classified as having diabetes. Unfortunately, those with prediabetes have a higher risk of not only eventually developing diabetes but also heart disease and stroke.

Individuals develop diabetes because they aren't producing enough of the hormone insulin, and/or have developed a resistance to insulin, such that their cells do not respond to the hormone when it arrives.

Obesity increases the cell's resistance to insulin. Insulin's job in the body is to direct glucose, the most abundant sugar in foods, into the cells to be used as immediate energy or stored in another form for later use. With diabetes, insulin may be available in the blood, but the cells' decreased sensitivity to it interferes with its ability to work properly in the body.

As a result, the bloodstream ends up becoming flooded with glucose that can't enter the cells for its use. Because of this, many individuals with diabetes have to take medication to help the insulin work properly and/or inject themselves with insulin to manage their blood glucose levels.

According to the JAMA editorial, if we don't stop this epidemic of diabetes among Americans, it is estimated that 1 in 3 folks in the United States may develop this disease by the year 2050.

This is where your wallet comes in.

It is also estimated that 1 in 5 health care dollars, to the tune of $245 billion annually, goes to caring for those with diabetes. A large part of these costs are associated with treating the long-term complications that arise from diabetes, such as kidney disease, heart disease, vision problems, and nerve damage.

Click HERE for this interactive quiz to see if you have or are at risk for prediabetes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), those with prediabetes can prevent or delay getting diabetes by as much as 58 percent by losing a modest amount of weight (5 to 7 percent of a person's body weight) and moving regularly (walking 2 Ĺ hours weekly).

The American Diabetes Association also suggests meeting with a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) to help you manage your diabetes. According to Toby Smithson, RDN, author of Diabetes Meal Planning and Nutrition for Dummies and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), many studies have shown that meeting with a RDN reduces the need for medications and the risk of developing the health complications from diabetes.

You can find a RDN who specializes in diabetes on the AND website, and the appointments could be covered by your health insurance.

There are also many affordable online and community resources that can help:

Living with Diabetes from the American Diabetes Association

National Diabetes Education Program, Diabetes Health Sense

National Diabetes Prevention Programs in your neighborhood

Joslin Diabetes Center Online Classes

Weight Watchers for Diabetes

Diabetes Everyday

Preventing diabetes or better managing it should you get it is key for your long-term health and wallet.

Be well, Joan

Follow Joan Twitter: @JoanSalgeBlake

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