Diabetes is a serious health condition that affects over 10% of the United States population. In fact, in 2018 it was estimated that 34.2 millions Americans have diabetes – and those numbers keep on rising.

In 2016, Mississippi was ranked the top state with diabetes cases, estimating that 308,295 Mississippians live with this disease.

What is diabetes, and how you can learn to live a healthy, happy life with it?  We’ve got answers.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a life-long health condition that affects the way your body turns food into energy.

In bodies that function properly, when food is consumed, most of it is broken down into sugar, which is then released into the bloodstream. One the blood sugar begins to rise, the pancreas releases insulin, which helps the body use that sugar as energy.

In bodies with diabetes, there usually isn’t enough insulin or the body isn’t able to use the insulin as well as it should.

There are two types of diabetes:

Type 1 Diabetes

This type of diabetes is less common, affecting about 5-10% of people diagnosed with diabetes. It’s thought to be caused by an autoimmune reaction that prohibits the body from making any insulin.

It’s most often diagnosed in small children, teens, and young adults, and there’s no known way to prevent or cure this type.

Type 2 Diabetes

Approximately 90-95% of people with diabetes are diagnosed with type 2. With this type, the body may still produce insulin, but it isn’t able to use it well, which causes high blood sugar.

It tends to be a gradual onset and adults are most often diagnosed with type 2. A healthy lifestyle is the best way to prevent type 2 diabetes.

I’ve been diagnosed with diabetes – what now?

After talking with your doctor about the best course of action for your lifestyle and diagnosis, here are a few steps you can take for managing your diabetes:

  • Eat healthy. Managing your blood sugar is essential to living with diabetes, and eating the right foods is essential to managing your blood sugar. Ideally, you’ll want to eat foods that are higher in:

    • Vitamins

    • Minerals (like calcium and iron)

    • Fiber

And avoid foods that are high in:

  • Added sugar

  • Saturated fats

  • Sodium

  • Trans fat

  • Be active. Making sure you get 20-25 minutes per day of physical activity is a great way to manage diabetes. When you exercise, your body becomes more sensitive to the insulin in your body. It also helps control your blood sugar levels, lowering your risk for heart disease and nerve damage.

  • Check your blood sugar (glucose). Making sure your blood sugar stays in your target range is key to avoiding other health complications, like blood vessel damage, vision loss, and kidney disease.

You’ll need to use a blood sugar monitor, like the Talk Monitor, to check your blood sugar regularly.

The Talk Monitor is super easy to use, and helps guide the process. It includes:

  • Voice guidance

  • English and Spanish

  • Large screen

  • Quick results

  • And more!

Usual times to check your blood sugar are when you first wake up, before a meal, two hours after a meal, and at bedtime.

Mississippi also offers a series of free workshops, called The Diabetes Self-Management Program, that’s designed to help those living with diabetes to understand and manage their conditions. To learn more, click here.