November is National Diabetes Month, which focuses on diabetes prevention. Learning about simple lifestyle and nutrition tips can help manage or even prevent the onset of diabetes for Mississippians. We can all benefit when we educate ourselves about diabetes.
First, the basics: there are two types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes usually develops early in life, due to genetics and the environment. It cannot be prevented. This type is rare: only one in two hundred people has type one diabetes. One in seven Mississippians is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Type 2 develops later in life as a response to insulin levels brought on by obesity, a lack of physical activity, and genetics. There are more than twice as many people with diabetes in Mississippi than live in Jackson.
Misunderstandings about diabetes and its dangers persist. You may have heard “diabetes isn’t that bad” from someone who’s had it for years and keeps saying “well, it hasn’t killed me yet.”
Yet diabetes can lead to death, blindness, and amputation. But most insidiously, diabetes makes other health problems harder to treat, from high blood pressure to simple wounds. It dramatically increases your risk of other health conditions such as heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease.
New treatments and techniques are successful at putting type 2 diabetes into remission. These days, type 2 diabetes – the kind that develops later in life – can be put into remission with a regimen of medication, weight loss, and exercise. People are finding freedom. The earlier you start these interventions, the more effective they are, so it’s vital to get regular checkups from a health care provider. The Mississippi State Department of Health offers free blood glucose checks at every county health department. Walk-ins are welcome, or you may call 855‑767‑0170 to schedule an appointment.
A final misconception is that the lifestyle changes that prevent and manage diabetes are too complicated or difficult for the average person to achieve.
While the changes can seem daunting at first, most of them are small, sensible, and available to people at any age. The Mississippi State Department of Health offers free, small group, classes to address the challenges of preventing and managing diabetes. To learn more about these offerings visit www.healthyms.com/diabetes
These changes become a part of our culture when Mississippians come together to support each other in making positive changes. Uproot Mississippi, a collaborative effort between nearly a hundred partner organizations across the state, works to build a culture of health in Mississippi. If you think you need help figuring out which steps are right for you, and how to take them, there are lots of individuals and communities across the state providing homegrown inspiration. Visit www.uprootms.org/ican for more information.