By David Harris, BA, CPhT
Type II Diabetes is on the rise in America. Diabetes is a disease that ultimately results in hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar. Over time your pancreas is not able to make enough insulin to control the sugar or glucose in the blood. It also leads to many other diseases including kidney disease, heart attacks, strokes, cardiovascular disease, blindness, and amputations.
Let’s look at some facts:
• According to the 2014 National Diabetes Statistics Report published by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), diabetes has increased in America from 0.93% (1.58 million people) in 1958 to 7.02% (21.95 million people) in 2014. These numbers only represent the diagnosed cases of diabetes, the CDC estimates that there are an additional 8.1 million Americans that are undiagnosed.
• There are 1.4 million new cases diagnosed every year in America according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA).
• The ADA says that 86 million Americans currently have “prediabetes.”
• According to the CDC, diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in America, with 76,488 deaths in 2014.
Now that we have looked at the “Bad and the Ugly,” I would like to focus on the “Good.” Diabetes is primarily caused by two factors, genetics and lifestyle choices. While we can’t control our genetic makeup, we can control our lifestyle choices. Diabetes has historically been thought of as a chronic illness that can be managed but not cured. However, in a recent study published by the ADA in May 2016 (Clinical trial reg. no. ISRCTN88634530, www.isrctn.org.), researchers concluded that type 2 diabetes, “is a potentially reversible condition.” This study gives new hope to all type 2 diabetics and all people with prediabetes.
Let’s take a closer look at what is meant by the term “lifestyle choices.”
• Healthy Eating: Healthy eating is the first part to making good lifestyle choices. When starting a lifestyle change to healthy eating habits, it is important to take it in steps. This needs to be a permanent change. Start off by increasing the amount of water you drink, choose sugar free soda or share your dessert with another person. Ultimately, we want to eat non starchy vegetables, whole grain pastas and breads, lean meats, fresh fruits, and sugar free drinks with a heavy emphasis on pure water. It is also important to know how many calories you are taking in every day. Calories will vary from person to person depending on our next lifestyle choice, exercise. There is a lot of information on healthy eating and diabetes; I recommend all diabetics talk with their doctor and choose sources like the American Diabetes Association and Centers for Disease Control websites to get more information.
• Exercise: Exercise is the other main lifestyle change. We need to exercise daily. All diabetics are at different levels of fitness and it is always recommended that you speak with your physician before starting a new exercise program. However, when you are ready, walking is a great place to start. Walking is something most of us can do every day. Count your steps with a simple pedometer or one of the many new phone apps available. Timing yourself is another way to track your walking. Both are great ways to measure your exercise so that you can slowly increase it over time as your fitness level improves. Whatever type of exercise you choose, the most important thing is that you do it consistently. You can increase your fitness by doing small things throughout the day like taking the stairs or parking a little further out at the grocery store. You will find that with a better diet and increased exercise, you will feel better, have more energy and want to exercise even more in time.
Two other important factors in controlling diabetes are medication and daily blood sugar testing. Medications are a great “tool” to control your blood sugar levels while you are implementing your lifestyle changes. Many people can reduce or even eliminate their diabetic medications through a healthy diet and daily exercise. Testing your blood sugar daily is important. The Mayo Clinic recommends testing your blood sugar 2 to 3 times per day, always before meals. Save these results and share them with your doctor during your visits. These daily results will help your doctor create a better plan for managing your diabetes.
Education is the last topic I would like to discuss. It starts with our children and our younger generations. As healthy lunches and daily physical education are slowly phased out of our schools, the responsibility of teaching our children the importance of living a healthy lifestyle falls to the parents. Our children should be included in our lifestyle changes. They should eat the same foods that we eat and exercise daily with us. At the same time we are making our lifestyle changes, the prefect opportunity is created to educate our children about diabetes and why it is important for them to start young making their own healthy lifestyle choices. This leads us back to the genetic factor. If you have diabetes, your children are at a greater risk of developing diabetes. By teaching them early in life, they could avoid diabetes forever. According to the CDC, diabetes costs the U.S. healthcare system $245 billion dollars annually. Education is the key to stopping and even reversing the current diabetes trend in America.
David Harris, BA, CPhT
David Harris is the pharmacy technician instructor at Manatee Technical College in Bradenton, Florida. He is a Florida Registered and PTCB Certified Pharmacy Technician. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from the University of South Florida. David began teaching at MTC in 2015 and has been a pharmacy technician in Florida since 2006. He is passionate about managing diabetes and diabetic patients’ medications.
The pharmacy technician program at Manatee Technical College takes about 11 months (full-
time) to complete. Upon successful completion of the program students are eligible to register as a Registered Pharmacy Technician (RPT) in the state of Florida and to sit for the certification examination offered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) to become a Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT). The school’s pass rate on the exam is 100%. Graduates who elect to continue their education at a Florida public college may be awarded up to 9 credits toward an Associate of Science degree in Pharmacy Management.
Manatee Technical Collage
MTC offers over 50 career certificate programs. For more information, go to www.ManateeTech.edu.