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November is National Diabetes Month: What you should know

National Diabetes Awareness Month is held in November and is an opportunity to learn about the disease as winter sets in.
Frequent checks of blood sugar levels is an every-day reality for millions of Canadians. November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. Black Press Media file photo

National Diabetes Awareness Month is held in November and is an opportunity to learn about the disease as winter sets in.

Diabetes is a problem in a person’s body where no, or insufficient amounts of, insulin is produced. Insulin, a pancreas-generated hormone, is responsible for allowing the transport of sugar through cellular walls and regulating overall amounts in the bloodstream.

Too much or too little sugar in the bloodstream can cause problems; too much sugar for too long can lead to organ damage, blood vessel damage or nerve impairment.

According to an Alberta Health Services (AHS) release talking about National Diabetes Month, as many as 11 million Canadians are either living with the disease or in pre-diabetic condition.

There are three types of diabetes that can affect people; Type 1, pre-diabetes, and type 2.

An autoimmune disease, type one diabetes is characterized by sufferers requiring artificial insulin as their bodies are unable to generate their own. Around 10 per cent of people with diabetes are afflicted with type one diabetes.

Pre-diabetes is commonly a precursor to type two diabetes. It is characterized by higher-than-normal blood sugar levels, but not high enough to be classed as type two.

Type 2 diabetes commonly develops in adulthood, though can develop in childhood as well. In type 2, people can’t efficiently use the body’s insulin or they are unable to produce enough due to pancreatic issues. Around 90 per cent of diabetics deal with type 2.

If caught early, type 2 diabetes can be treated with exercise and diet, though often medication will need to be added as well.

Staying active is important in preventing type 2 diabetes and its associated health risks. Exercise helps with insulin sensitivity, making it more effective; helps with weight management; and leads to better heart health. Heart issues are a common complication of diabetes.

To combat type 2 diabetes, AHS recommends incorporating exercise into your routine.

Common winter activities can include skating or skiing, yoga classes, joining an indoor sports club, walking stairs at work, taking a lunchtime walk or heading to your local pool are just some activities that Albertans can partake in this winter to help them remain active.