Diabetes Awareness

If you’ve been reading our blogs, you know that our focus is usually on a medical condition that effects our day-to-day lives. This month is Diabetes Awareness Month and so our focus is on the different types of diabetes, risks, prevention, and treatment.

Types of Diabetes

  1. Type I- Also referred to as juvenile diabetes
  2. Type II-Affects mostly adults
  3. Gestational diabetes- affects some women during pregnancy
  4. Pre-diabetes- Adults with higher than normal blood sugar but not high enough to be Type II

Diabetes Type 1

The body doesn’t produce insulin. Our bodies break down the carbohydrates we eat into blood sugar (blood glucose) and uses it for energy. Without insulin, the blood sugar can’t get into the cells and builds up in the bloodstream. Elevated blood sugar is damaging and can cause symptoms and complications of diabetes.

No one knows how to prevent Type I diabetes and it can happen at any age but it occurs mostly in children, teens and, young adults. It is a much less common type affecting only 5%-10% of the diabetic population.

Diabetes Type II

Type II is the most common type and it means that our bodies don’t use insulin properly. This is called insulin resistance.

Gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes affects millions of women, about 10% worldwide, and doctors don’t know what causes it. Sometimes pregnancy hormones can cause the body to produce more insulin. For some women this still isn’t enough and they develop gestational diabetes which, usually occurs later in the pregnancy. Your doctor may have you test for gestational diabetes in weeks 24-28.

Gestational diabetes can be reversed after giving birth; however, it does put you and your baby at greater risk for developing diabetes later in life.


Pre-diabetes, like gestational diabetes can be reversible. There are no clear symptoms and you may not even realize you have it; however, you may be suffering from some of the complications. Lifestyle changes can prevent or delay the onset of Type II diabetes.

It may take months or years before symptoms of diabetes are noticed but it can also develop in a few weeks to a few months. If left untreated it can even be fatal. So, let’s look at some of the signs and symptoms of diabetes.

Diabetes Symptoms

  1. Stomach pain
  2. Frequent urination
  3. Increased thirst
  4. Irritability
  5. Blurred vision
  6. Unintended weight loss

Type I and Type II diabetes have similar symptoms, but for children and teens, the symptoms of diabetes Type II can be different. Children and teens might have a higher body mass index for their age or have high blood pressure, especially if there is a history of Type II diabetes in the family.

Symptoms of Type II diabetes also differ in older adults. They may experience flu-like fatigue, frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs), numbness or tingling in their extremities, and dental problems such as infections.

If you are experiencing these symptoms, it’s time to reach out to your doctor for a proper diagnosis. Left untreated can lead to other serious complications or death, which we’ll discuss later in this blog.

Risk Factors

  1. If you have or had pre-diabetes
  2. Family history
  3. Overweight
  4. 45 years or older
  5. Had gestational diabetes or are pregnant and over 25 years old
  6. Given birth to a baby weighing more than 9 lbs.
  7. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
  8. Polycystic ovary syndrome

There are some things you can do to reduce your risk such as getting plenty of exercise, eating a healthy diet, and losing weight if you are overweight. Small changes can have a big impact.

What is interesting is how diabetes affects men and women differently. Men are more likely to develop diabetes at a lower weight than women because they store fat in their bellies, a known risk factor. Men are also at an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure and are 3 times more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction. If you have heart disease and erectile dysfunction, these can be early warning signs of a blood vessel problem and you should see your doctor. Diabetes can also cause nerve damage and other problems as well such as overactive bladder at night, urinary incontinence or urinary leakage, frequent urinary tract infections, and retrograde ejaculation which is when semen leaks into the bladder.

Diabetes is different for women and among women. They are more likely to develop heart disease compared to men and experience worse outcomes after a heart attack. They are also at greater risk for developing other complications such as blindness, kidney disease, and depression.

African American, Hispanic, Latina, American Indian, Alaskan Native, Asian, and Pacific Islander women are more likely to develop diabetes than Caucasian women. They are at greater risk for vaginal yeast infections, elevated blood sugar levels, and poor circulation which reduces the body’s ability to fight infection. Incomplete bladder emptying creates the perfect environment for infections to develop so staying hydrated, wearing cotton underwear, and emptying your bladder more frequently can help reduce these types of infections.

Menstrual cycles can also make blood sugar levels hard to predict. Food cravings during this time can make diabetes harder to manage. Check your blood sugar more often during these times to see if you notice a pattern, it could be a sign that you need more insulin in the few days prior. Being active, eating healthy and in the right amounts, as well as, getting proper sleep can help.

Diabetes can also lower sex drive and make getting pregnant more difficult.

People with diabetes may develop high blood pressure, high cholesterol and have elevated triglycerides, a type of fat in the blood. Elevated blood sugar with high blood pressure and elevated triglycerides (LDL) bad cholesterol can lead to heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney failure, amputations of the toes, foot or leg, and even death.

Diabetes is also associated with some cancers including liver, pancreatic, uterine, colon, breast, and bladder cancer.

If you have diabetes, you are also at a higher risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

In 2019, in a literature review, there is a link between diabetes and poor health in 5.1 million people across 49 studies. It stated that compared to men, women are at a 13% greater risk of death across all causes, a 30% increase of cardiovascular disease, and a 58% increase of coronary heart disease.

Also in 2019, 37.3 million people had diabetes, that’s 11.3% of the U.S. population.  

                       28.7 million people are diagnosed including 28.5 million adults.

                        8.5 million people are undiagnosed or 23% of adults.

Pre-diabetics total 96 million people 18 years and older or 38% of the adult population. People aged 65 years or older come in at 26.4 million people or 48.8% of the population.

As you can see from these statistics, diabetes is very common. So how can we reduce our risk?

Some of the best foods to help lower your risk are:

  1. Blueberries– Are high in antioxidants, and may improve insulin resistance in prediabetics or those with diabetes.
  2. Beans– Are a good source of protein and is a slow digesting carb which means it helps you feel full and prevents sudden glucose spikes. Incorporating beans into your diet in the long-term lowers blood pressure and triglycerides as well as HgbA1c levels.
  3. Leafy greens– Are rich in magnesium and are known to reduce the risk of Type II diabetes.
  4. Almonds and Walnuts– improves A1C levels and are associated with lowering fasting blood sugar and improving insulin resistance.
  5. Greek yogurt– Incorporating pro-biotics lowers HgbA1c level and fasting blood glucose in people who have Type II. Add fruit and nuts to plain yogurt for flavor and texture.
  6. Oranges– Are a low glycemic good for those with Type II. Vitamin C, folate, and potassium keeps blood pressure in check.
  7. Fish 8-12oz-Is a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids help to reduce inflammation and can help improve diabetic complications such as neuropathy in the extremities.
  8. Oatmeal– Helps to manage glucose levels and reduce heart disease it significantly reduces HghA1c, and total cholesterol LDL levels.
  9. EVOO-Extra virgin olive oil is a healthy unsaturated fat and has anti-inflammatory properties. It can also help reduce the risk of diabetic complications like neuropathy.
  10. Meatless Mains-Meatless main dishes made of plant-based proteins such as beans and tofu are also good.

Skinless chicken and lean meats are also good choices for managing diabetes, but medical professionals suggest that swapping out meat for plant-based proteins is better. Studies show that vegetarians have a much lower risk of diabetes.


Chicken Caesar Wrap

  • 1 1/2 cup cooked chicken (diced)
  • 3 tbsp light Caesar salad dressing
  • 3 tbsp Parmesan cheese (freshly shredded)
  • 4 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 4 tortillas (10-inch, low-carb)

Instructions :

  1. In a medium bowl, mix together all the ingredients except for the tortillas. Coat the salad evenly with the dressing
  2. Spread 1 heaping cup of the chicken salad mixture onto the tortilla.
  3. Fold the left and right sides of the wrap in until they touch and roll from the bottom to make a wrap.
  4. Repeat procedure for remaining 3 wraps.

Pumpkin Hummus

  • 1 (15-oz) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans) (drained and rinsed)
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 clove garlic
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • pumpkin seeds (optional)

Instructions :

  1. Add all of the ingredients except the pumpkin seeds to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Garnish with a sprinkling of pumpkin seeds, if desired. Serve with pita chips or fresh vegetables, such as celery, sugar snap peas, or carrots.

Exercise is important for your health and well-being whether you have diabetes or not, but studies show that regular exercise helps to maintain a lower weight, lowers LDL, triglycerides, and blood pressure as well as, many other health benefits.

Talk to your doctor about the exercise program that is the most appropriate for you and when you should test your blood sugar levels.

Treatment for Diabetes

Type I diabetes is managed with regular insulin injections, while Type II usually requires oral medications, insulin, pens, pumps, inhaler, or jet injectors, as diet and exercise are not enough to keep blood sugars in a safe range.

Alternative Medicine

Scientists have been researching the benefits of acupuncture for the treatment of diabetes and have found that it may improve blood glucose management and weight loss, and protect pancreatic islet function, which is responsible for insulin production. In addition to improving insulin resistance and adjusting the balance of hormones that affect diabetes for example melatonin, insulin, and epinephrine.

In 2018, researchers in China published how acupuncture points helped to improve symptoms of diabetes in rats with diabetes. In 3 weeks, rats who received electroacupuncture, had reduced glucose levels, insulin went up and they had improved glucose tolerance.

2016, a review of animal and human studies in Acupuncture and Medicine looked into acupuncture as a valid treatment for insulin resistance and determined that it could be used as a future treatment for insulin sensitivity. Researchers suggest that electroacupuncture can be used alone or with other treatment options such as a healthy diet and Chinese herbs.

In conjunction with metformin, an anti-diabetic medication studies showed that there was more success with lowering glucose levels and greater insulin sensitivity.

Techniques for the treatment of diabetic research have been done in 3 areas, one is wrist-ankle where there is deep needle stimulation, electroacupuncture, which is the most common type used to treat diabetes and herbal acupuncture where herbs are injected into acupuncture points.

According to the study, there was not enough evidence to show that wrist-ankle stimulation is safe and effective. Electroacupuncture inserts a pair of needles in an acupuncture point and passes electrical impulses from one point to the other. This is said to be effective in treating pain from diabetic neuropathy and managing blood glucose levels.

Research done between 2000-2018 examined the benefits of massage for managing the symptoms of diabetes. There was significant evidence that massage may help lower hemoglobin A1c levels, decrease blood glucose and reduce pain caused by peripheral neuropathy and help improve diabetic ulcers.

A 2011 study showed that connective tissue massage helped to improve circulation in the lower extremities of people with Type II diabetes and possibly slow the progression of peripheral arterial disease. Fifty percent of people with diabetes suffer from peripheral neuropathy.

A study in 2015 had 60 people with Type II diabetes go through Thai massage for 30 minutes, 3 times a week for 2 weeks. These people had significant improvement in range of motion, ability to stand from a seated position, and improved foot sensation when compared to a controlled group.

The effects of massage can be different in children with diabetes. They had decreased blood sugar levels than a controlled group. If this should happen it is recommended that an emergency packet consisting of a glucose tablet, hard candy or juice be kept on hand.

Complimentary therapy like acupuncture and massage are meant to support traditional treatment and not replace it. Complimentary massage therapies include Thai foot massage, Traditional Chinese massage, Swedish massage and connective tissue massage.

Support Groups

There are many types of support groups available to you and they include everything from education, therapy, group medical, peer support, online Facebook groups, and other online forums and message boards as well as the links below. I urge you to check them out and learn what works for you in managing your diabetes. Being diagnosed with pre-diabetes or any type of diabetes can seem overwhelming, as you try and figure out how to move forward, manage your symptoms with a new way of eating. Your doctor can help you and may even suggest a Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support service (DSMES) which teaches you how to manage your blood sugar, through diet and exercise and will also help you problem solve. This education can help you prevent, improve or delay some of the complications discussed in this blog. It can help you save money on healthcare costs by helping to avoid emergency care and improve your quality of life. Most insurance plans cover diabetes education although it may vary from plan to plan. Medicare covers about 10 hours if you have been diagnosed in the last year.

We at MassageCraft hope you find this blog helpful.

We wish you continued good health and happiness. Join us next month for our blog on Alzheimer’s Disease.

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