November is National Diabetes Month. This year the focus is on prediabetes and preventing diabetes.

First off, what is diabetes? According to the CDC, Diabetes is a chronic (long-lasting) health condition that affects how your body turns food into energy.

Most of the food you eat is broken down into sugar (also called glucose) and released into your bloodstream. When your blood sugar goes up, it signals your pancreas to release insulin. Insulin acts like a key to let the blood sugar into your body’s cells for use as energy. If you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use the insulin it makes as well as it should. When there isn’t enough insulin or cells stop responding to insulin, too much blood sugar stays in your bloodstream.

Over time, that can cause serious health problems, such as heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease. And, according to the Mayo Clinic, Prediabetes means you have a higher than normal blood sugar level. It’s not high enough to be considered type 2 diabetes yet, but without lifestyle changes, adults and children with prediabetes are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. (Yes, there are two types of diabetes — type 1 and type 2.

With type 1, your body doesn’t make insulin. It is usually diagnosed in children, teens, and young adults. With type 2 diabetes, your body doesn’t use insulin well and can’t keep blood sugar at normal levels. About 90-95% of people with diabetes have type 2.)

Many people don’t even know they have pre-diabetes. (Take the risk test at wdt.me/diabetes_test) But, this is not a bad news story! With small lifestyle changes, it is possible to prevent type 2 diabetes and reverse prediabetes.

So, let’s celebrate National Diabetes Month by doing the following:

n Take small steps — you don’t have to change everything all at once. Start small and know that if you have a setback, it is normal, just start again. As a self-proclaimed perfectionist, I can tell you being perfect is impossible.

n Move more — limit the amount of time you spend sitting and aim for 30 minutes of physical activity a day. Break it up — go for a 10 minute walk in the morning. Dance for 10 minutes when you get home from work. Do yoga for 10 minutes before bed. Find things you really enjoy and that bring you joy.

n Choose healthier foods and drinks most of the time. Find healthy foods you like! Listen to your body and pay attention what you really feel like eating. With practice and consistency you will be surprised that your body will crave a balanced diet that includes vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.

n Drink water instead of sweetened drinks.

n Seek support. Talk to your healthcare provider and your loved ones who can help you make necessary lifestyle changes. Cornell Cooperative Extension can be part of that support system too. We have nutritionists and educators who can provide proven tips and tools.

Additionally, the YMCA runs a Diabetes Prevention Program, as does Lewis County Public Health and Clifton Fine Hospital at wdt.me/diabetes_help.

Contact Amanda Root at Cornell Cooperative Extension of JeffersonCounty, 315-788-8450 or email arr27@cornell.edu.

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