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Health Extension for Diabetes

Even though a diabetes diagnosis might be intimidating, it is possible to live a normal and healthy life with diabetes, but learning proper diabetes management and beneficial lifestyle changes is essential.

What is Diabetes? 

Diabetes is a chronic disease characterized by high blood sugar due to the lack of insulin because the body either does not make enough insulin or cannot use the insulin it makes effectively. Insulin is an essential hormone that helps sugar enter your body’s cells to give them energy. Without a sufficient level of insulin, sugar will stay in the bloodstream and can cause a variety of health issues. According to the National Diabetes Statistics Report, a periodic publication of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 34.2 million people in the United States are living with diabetes, which is 10.5% of the population.

Different Types of Diabetes 

There are two main types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes occurs because the body does not produce insulin, which is the hormone that the body needs to get sugar from the bloodstream into the cells of the body for energy. Type 1 diabetes can be managed with insulin therapy in combination with healthy lifestyle changes. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, and it occurs when the body does not use insulin properly. Type 2 diabetes can be managed with a combination of healthy eating, exercise, and medication, including insulin. Maintain a healthy weight, diet, and physical activity level are key to controlling both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Common Diabetes Myths: 

Eating too much sugar causes diabetes …FALSE.

  • While eating a diet high in sugar (as well as other unhealthy lifestyle factors, such as lack of physical activity) can increase the risk for type 2 diabetes, sugar alone does NOT cause diabetes.

Diabetes can be cured …FALSE.

  • While medicine continues to advance, there is still no cure for diabetes, but diabetes can be controlled and managed with a combination of healthy lifestyle changes, such as increased physical activity and beneficial nutritional changes.

Medication or insulin also may be needed. Diabetes isn’t a big deal ….FALSE.

  • Diabetes is a very serious disease. In 2017, the American Diabetes Association reported diabetes as the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. This data is based on 83,564 death certificates in which diabetes was listed as the underlying cause of death.

If you’re overweight, will you always develop type 2 diabetes …FALSE.

  • While excess weight increases your chance of having diabetes, not everyone who is overweight will develop diabetes. People of any weight can have diabetes.

Health Impact of Diabetes 

If your diabetes is not managed, you are at a higher risk for a number of serious health complications such as:

  • heart disease and stroke;
  • kidney failure;
  • nervous system disease (neuropathy);
  • non-traumatic lower-limb amputation;
  • gum disease and other dental issues.

Since diabetes can affect almost every part of your body, it is extremely important to manage your blood sugar levels to prevent these health problems. Increasing your physical activity level and eating healthy are both crucial to living a healthier life with diabetes.

Resources for Managing Diabetes

What can you do to better manage your diabetes and reduce your risks for complications? Consider joining a diabetes education and support program.

Clemson Extension offers a program called Health Extension for Diabetes. This program is a 4-month long education and support program with group and individual sessions for people living with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Health Extension for Diabetes is recognized by the American Diabetes Association as a practice-tested diabetes support program. The program aims to provide participants with the knowledge, skills, and support needed to improve their health.

Health Extension Program for DiabetesPhoto credits are RHN Picture Bank

Health Extension Program for Diabetes.
Photo credits are RHN Picture Bank

The program has a series of 16 one-hour sessions that are currently being offered online by Zoom. Session topics include healthy eating, physical activity, managing stress, medications and monitoring, and more. You must be 18 years old to participate and have a diagnosis of type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

You may register for free on Eventbrite using this link: https://healthextensionfordiabetesonline2.eventbrite.com

For more information about the Health Extension for Diabetes Program, contact Danielle McFall at 864-656-8627 or at healthygreenville@clemson.edu.

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at hgic@clemson.edu or 1-888-656-9988.

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