National Diabetes Month is in November. The number of diabetics in Maryland has increased by 17% over the past decade, according to QuoteWizard®, which is one of the nation’s leading online insurance marketplaces. Additionally, 86 million adults in America have pre-diabetes.
Sharon Baucom-Myers, MD works as a Physician ll for Baltimore County Department of Health within the Bureau of Community Health and Chronic Disease Prevention. The board-certified family practitioner can provide medical care to everyone from babies to seniors and grandparents.
Baucom-Myers provided facts about diabetes to raise awareness about the health condition.
“Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that affects your body’s ability to convert sugar into energy. So, that means that there are several forms of the disease, but the two most common are called Type 1 and Type 2. And of course, if you’re pregnant, you can have gestational diabetes. That means that your regulation of your blood sugar was abnormal, directly related to the hormones associated with pregnancy.”
Baucom-Myers added that oftentimes gestational diabetes is a flag that could indicate a woman’s greater risk of having a Type 2 diabetes diagnosis later, but it usually can disappear after delivery of a baby.
She further explained that a Type 1 diabetic had an autoimmune disease, or for whatever reason, the cells that produce the hormone insulin was not produced. Although Type 1 diabetes can occur at any age, it most commonly occurs during childhood and adolescence.
“They have the disruption of the cells in the pancreas, which is the organ that produces the hormone insulin, and so they [diabetics] cannot call upon their body to manufacture that hormone. They have an external supply,” Baucom-Myers said.
The doctor noted that a source of insulin must be provided for someone who has Type 1 diabetes because they cannot make it on their own. It can be given by injections or an insulin pump.
Baucom-Myers compared Type 2 diabetes by explaining that it is associated with the ability to produce insulin, but for some reason, a person does not produce enough of it, or the individual’s body cells are resistant to the effect. Healthy cells that make insulin in the pancreas are attacked and destroyed.
“With Type 2, you could have significant weight loss, and exercise, and healthy nutritional choices, that can actually put you back in a normal range. If not, sometimes we’ll give people, in addition to those lifestyle changes, tablets and shots. Shots that are not insulin, but increase the production of insulin,” Baucom-Myers stated.
Prediabetes is a high blood sugar range that is not high enough for a person to be labeled a diabetic, but the individual is put at risk for it. Baucom-Myers added that prediabetes can be reversed with lifestyle changes.
She further remarked that rethinking the way we think about being healthy is needed.
“Portion size is important starting at any age. And in addition to the physical health, a lot of people are overeaters because they have other issues like depression, or they’re on antidepressant medications that can make you gain 20 or 30 pounds, and take you over to the Type 2 diabetes side,” Baucom-Myers said, mentioning that people should be alerted to prediabetes risks. “33% of Americans have prediabetes and don’t know it.”
Baucom-Myers referenced a CDC survey. Seven questions on the test indicate if a person may be flagged as having a higher prediabetes risk. She added that knowing if the score is greater than five would give a person an opportunity to work with his or her physician to find out what he or she could do to see what could be done to drop the risk of proceeding to Type 2 diabetes by 50%.
“That consists of diet and exercise, and better, healthy food choices. So, rethinking the way we think about foods and food portions. Culturally, if somebody is going to have mac and cheese, or take fresh produce greens and put fatback and ham hocks in it, we just need to understand food as pharmacy,” Baucom-Myers said, mentioning the need to increase health literacy of the community about the impact of food.
She emphasized that it is better to use nutrition and food as that medication as opposed to a pill. Complications of heart attacks, strokes and kidney damage that goes with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes that can be avoided should be.
Baucom-Myers explained that reading labels to see what we are putting in our bodies is important. Also, children who are not being as active as they would be because of technology, and supersizing portions of fast-food, is creating obesity. Diabetes linked with obesity, hypertension, and strokes are prevalent in certain populations.
“Those three things are off the charts for people of color,” Baucom-Myers said.
Please visit the link Prediabetes – Your Chance to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes | CDC to take a quick test to help determine if you may have prediabetes, and to determine more steps to take to prevent the disease.