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National Diabetes Awareness Month

Receiving a diabetes diagnosis can be difficult. Diabetes can affect the entire body and requires daily self-care to avoid complications. There is also a large amount of stigma associated with diabetes. This National Diabetes Awareness Month I want to shed some light on what diabetes is and how to manage it to reduce stigma around the condition.

Types of diabetes

Firstly, there is more than one type of diabetes, in fact there are three.

  • Type 1 diabetes commonly diagnosed in children but it can be diagnosed in adults too. Occurs when the pancreas (a gland) does not produce enough insulin to keep blood sugar levels stable. Onset is normally abrupt with obvious symptoms.
  • Type 2 diabetes differs from type to in that the onset is mush slower and use to only be seen in individuals over the age of 45 but this is changing. In type 2 diabetes the pancreas the does not produce enough insulin or the insulin it does produce is less sensitive to help manage blood sugar levels.
  • Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy. This type of diabetes normally is no longer an issue once the baby is born but for some women it can persist or be risk factor for later life development of Type 2 diabetes.

What causes diabetes?

Diabetes is an autoimmune condition where the body’s immune system attacks its own cells decreasing them in number therefore reducing the amount insulin or sensitivity of insulin produced. For type 1 diabetes it is unknown what the cause is nor can it be prevented. In type 2 diabetes there is a strong genetic component that plays a role in developing the condition. There are also behavioural factors that may put you as an increased risk such as activity levels, smoking status, alcohol intake, stress levels as well as eating patterns and behaviours. In gestational diabetes, the hormones from the placenta can block the actions of insulin reducing its sensitivity. This doesn’t occur for all women and their pregnancies but for some like those who have had gestational diabetes previously, are over the age of 40 and have a family history of diabetes are at a higher risk. The bottom line here is that it is never anyone’s fault that they have diabetes.

Manageable but not curable

Unfortunately, there has yet to be a cure for diabetes but it is manageable and should be managed appropriately to participate in your best quality of life. Managing diabetes can decrease risk of secondary complications such as blindness, numbness, amputations and kidney disease to name a few. Managing your diabetes can involve managing other health conditions and environmental factors such as hypertension or high cholesterol, smoking status and alcohol intake or stress and physical activity levels. It can also include managing the quality and amount of carbohydrate foods you have within your diet to control and stabilise blood sugar levels. Although we discuss managing other aspects of your health to manage your diabetes, managing your blood sugar levels is one of the most important things to take care when you have diabetes so taking medication as prescribed, participating in physical activity, reduce stress and illness as well as checking in frequently with a dietitian to discuss eating patterns and behaviours can help to maintain blood glucose levels. If you would like to get started on managing your diabetes today call or book online for an appointment with Jess to see how she can help you start your diabetes management.

Written by Jess Koznedelev

Jess has a great passion for all things food, especially the joy it can bring people. Her big passion areas include Health At Every Size®, eating disorders & paediatric nutrition.

As accredited practicing dietitian, Jess provides an evidence-based, individualised approach to help you make sustainable health behaviour changes that are long lasting. Book a Dietetics Consultation today.