Diabetes is a disease which prevents the body from responding properly to the hormone insulin, which the body uses to convert the sugars and starches from foods into usable energy. This disorder affects eight percent of all Americans with high blood sugar levels, and nearly 10 percent of New York State’s population—a statistic which has doubled in the last 16 years. One-third of people with the disease do not even know that they have it.
Because of how common diabetes is becoming, the state is making intensive efforts to ease the physical and financial burdens of the disease. The New York State Health Foundation has developed a five-year campaign to reverse the spread of the disease, focusing on improving care for patients and spreading the word about diabetes prevention.
There are two main forms of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2, with symptoms including unusual thirst and hunger, extreme fatigue, frequent urination, blurred vision and frequent infections. Type 1 diabetes results from the body’s inability to produce insulin on its own, and is often referred to as juvenile diabetes as it is usually found in children and teens. Only about ten percent of people suffering from diabetes have this type, which, while not preventable, is easily treated with insulin injections and a healthy diet.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, affecting 90 percent of diagnosed cases. Those with type 2 diabetes are either unable to produce enough insulin or they harbor cells that reject insulin in the body. This type of diabetes is also called adult-onset diabetes as it is found more frequently in older individuals and those who are less physically active, with a family history of diabetes and obesity. Type 2 diabetes occurs with more frequency in those of African-American, Hispanic/Latino-American, American Indian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander descent. With regular exercise and eating healthy foods, anyone can delay and potentially prevent developing the disease.
Recent research has also indicated that certain foods, such as the fatty acids found in wild salmon, sardines, squid and mackerel, can slow the onset of diabetes. There have also been recent studies suggesting that coffee consumption may help to lower the risk of getting diabetes.
“Diabetes is a life altering disease affecting more Americans each year, and while in many cases it may not be preventable, for others it is as simple as exercising a few more times a week and eating with more consideration,” says Dr. Navarra Rodriguez, Chief Medical Officer of Manhattan's Physician Group.
In addition to lessening the physical threats of diabetes, options are available to help with the emotional side effects. Diabetes education programs and peer support groups are available coast to coast and online, addressing the various stages and forms of the disease in children and adults, and providing a platform for family members who have lost loved ones due to the disease to find comfort.
To learn more about diabetes and to find which treatment or prevention plan is right for you, speak with your doctor.