Diabetes: An American Epidemic
As a health care worker, it is very important for you to learn all you can about diabetes. Why?
Consider these facts:
• Right now, there are nearly 18 million Americans who have been diagnosed with diabetes. But, there are almost 6 million more people who have the disease and don’t know it!
• Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States. Every year, over 200,000 people die from diabetes.
• Diabetes can happen to anyone…regardless of age, sex or ethnicity.
• By 2025, doctors say that there will be 30 million people with diabetes around the world!
• The American Diabetes Association guesses that the U.S. spends nearly $174 billion every year on this one illness alone!
• About 23% of people over age 60 have diabetes. So, if you work with the elderly, one out of every five of your clients will have diabetes.
• Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness for people ages 20 to 74. Up to 24,000 people every year go blind from diabetes.
• This disease is also the leading cause of irreversible kidney disease. Every year, about 28,000 develop this life-threatening complication.
• Diabetes causes over 90,000 people every year to have a foot or leg amputated.
• People with diabetes are 2 to 4 times more likely to develop heart disease or stroke than people without diabetes.
All this sounds pretty bad, doesn’t it? But there is good news, too. Nearly every complication of diabetes can be prevented, especially with your help! With good care, people with diabetes can live long, productive lives and avoid problems like blindness and amputation. The more you know about diabetes, the better you’ll be able to help your diabetic clients avoid serious complications.
TREATING DIABETES WITH DIET
People with diabetes need regular well-balanced meals, just like everyone else. They need to eat healthy foods in the right amounts to keep their blood sugar under control. Some people with Type 2 diabetes can control their disease without medication, just by following a special meal plan. In general, the approximate recommendations for diabetics include:
• 50% of each day’s calories from quality carbohydrates such as vegetables, fruits, beans and whole grains.
• 30% of the day’s calories from quality fats such as olive oil, nuts, fish and flaxseed oil.
• 20% of calories from quality proteins, especially fish, soy and poultry.
• Many diabetics still need to take medication, even if they watch what they eat. But, diet is always a very important treatment for every diabetic because the more they follow their prescribed diet, the less medication they will need to take.
• In the “old days”, there was a standard diabetic diet. Now, doctors know that each diabetic needs an individualized meal plan.