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November is National Diabetes Awareness Month

Not just this month, but throughout the whole year, Diabetes is a health issue the whole nation faces. Maybe your brother has it, your sister, your mother, or even your grandparent.
The odds that may be true is more believable than you may think. In Kentucky, our cause for concern is greater than most other states because the Bluegrass currently holds the fourth highest mortality rate in the United States for the disease.
November is designated as National Diabetes Awareness Month, making it a great opportunity to educate those at risk, including those close to you, and make sure that others around us are also aware of available treatment and prevention options, as much of Type 2 diabetes can be controlled with just a slight lifestyle change.
Some may ask, what is Diabetes? Basically, it’s a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas can no longer make insulin for your body. If insulin is not produced, glucose levels rise causing damage to the body that otherwise could have been prevented. There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 is most common in children, while Type 2 accounts for 90 percent of all cases of the disease and can be managed, and even cured, when you or someone you know decides to lead a healthy lifestyle. In fact, physical activity and a healthy diet prove to be one of the bestways to avoid Type 2 diabetes all together.
Some of the health complications associated with Type 2 diabetes include heart disease,stroke, blindness, kidney damage, and lower extremity amputation. Maybe someone close to you has already suffered from one of these complications due to the disease. The good news is, there are ways to prevent and even delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes. One of the best ways is to find out if you may be prediabetic and talk with a health care provider who can arrange for access to the appropriate tests. Making healthy food choices, becoming more physically active, and losing weight will also help in the fight against Type 2 diabetes. Still, it is important to know that being a prediabetic, or having a family history of diabetes, does increase an individual’s risk of Type 2 diabetes. Knowing your family history, sharing that history with your health care provider, and getting early screening completed if you believe you may be at risk can help reduce your chances of being diagnosed with the disease.
Kentucky has a history of working hard to bring awareness to the disease and lessen its mortality rate. Although, despite the state’s effort, diabetes has continued to climb, and in recent years a significant increase has been seen in both diagnosis and mortality throughout the state. One in seven people are diagnosed with diabetes, while another one in four don’t even know they have the disease. If you look around you, that could very easily be your neighbor, your best friend, or even the waitress who brings you dinner when you go out to eat on a Friday night. Being unaware of possible health risks associated with the disease puts many people who are close to us at a higher risk of serious and possibly costly complications in the future.
As we go into the holiday season and winter months, the chances for healthy choices and outdoor physical exercise undoubtably become harder to come by. Although balancing a Thanksgiving meal with an evening walk bundled up to fight off the cooler weather may just make all the difference when trying to prevent, or even delay, diabetes. Maybe it’s a healthy dish you set out alongside all your favorites this holiday season for family and friends to enjoy.
Or perhaps it’s foregoing that extra slice of pie. Whatever the case may be, if we work together, make better choices, and educate those around us why we are doing it, we can help delay and even stop this disease from affecting those we love.
Not just this month, but throughout the holidays and the rest of the year, I urge you to try and make strides to lead a healthier life and decrease your chance, and the chances of thoseyou love most, from developing this very preventable disease. Make it a habit, today and every day, to get physical exercise, eat healthy when you can, and take a healthy step in the fight against diabetes.