If you are one of the millions of people in the world who have to pay attention to your blood sugar level on the regular, you might be interested to know that World Health Day this year was all about diabetes.
World Health Day, led by the World Health Organization (WHO), was observed April 7 to wake people up about the ins and outs of a disease that doctors are just beginning to wrap their heads around.
In 2008, an estimated 347 million people in the world had diabetes and the prevalence is growing, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. In 2012, the disease was the direct cause of some 1.5 million deaths, with more than 80% of those occurring in low- and middle-income countries. By 2030, WHO projects diabetes to be the seventh leading cause of death.
Now there’s a reason to stop eating sugar and cut back on foods that turn into sugar in your body. Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas can’t produce enough insulin or when the body doesn’t properly use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar and gives us the energy to live. There’s trouble when insulin can’t get into the cells and burn as energy. That’s when sugar builds up to harmful levels in the blood causing all kind of dysfunction.
There are two main forms of the diabetes. If you have Type 1 diabetes, typically you can’t produce your own insulin and survive by injecting it. Type 2 diabetes is the form that indicates you can produce your own insulin, but either it’s not enough or your body doesn’t use it properly. Type 2 diabetes is often indicated by weight issues and sluggishness. High blood sugar compromises every major organ system, which makes one more prone to heart attacks, nerve damage, strokes, blindness, kidney failure, and infections that sometimes lead to amputation.
Even though diabetes has become an epidemic in many countries, it’s quite often preventable with simple lifestyle changes that can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. The number one step in the right direction is maintaining a healthy weight with exercise and eating well. Eating less sugar and carbs and more greens and protein is a great way to reduce your risk of getting diabetes.
Diabetes can affect mental health, causing depression and anxiety, when emotions aren’t dealt with. It often begins with the denial, the why me question, upon diagnosis. Studies show that people with diabetes have a greater risk of depression than people without diabetes, says the American Diabetes Association. And although there is no cure, it can be managed sometimes with medication and sometimes without. Many people with diabetes live long and healthy lives. Diabetes doesn’t necessarily indicate a crisis. Here are some ways to cope with diabetes by managing stress:
- Seek therapy or even group counseling. Never be ashamed to ask for help. There’s help available everywhere and there are many people just like you facing the same issues. Many of them have learned how to handle it and can show you how it’s done.
- Practice deep breathing and walking. Use visualization and positive thoughts to remove your focus from worry and fear. Imagine your entire system is in perfect balance. If you truly believe it, sometimes that’s all it takes. It may not mean you don’t need medication, but if you can replace the stress created in your body by negative emotions with relaxation and positive emotions, you will be healthier for it.
- Stress can raise your blood sugar, but learning to control it is very doable if you practice mindfulness, the art of living in the moment.
- It may sound like an over-simplification, but do what you love to do. Find a hobby you enjoy. Tend to a garden or listen to music. Play an instrument. Knit. Ride a bike. Make a quilt. Any activities that take your mind off your problems are extremely good for your entire being.