Diabetes is a serious illness that can occur in people of all ages. The risk increases with age. Diabetes affects many Americans, especially Latinos. More than 50% of Latino adults are expected to get Type 2 diabetes over their lifetimes. This is partly due to sociocultural factors, such as:
- lower income
- less access to education
- less access to health care
- language barriers and lack of Spanish-speaking doctors
- family history
Diabetes affects how your body uses glucose or blood sugar. Glucose is needed for our health. It's an important source of energy for the cells that make up our muscles and tissues. It is also the brain's main source of fuel. Insulin, a hormone that is made by the pancreas, helps glucose get into our cells to be used for energy.
For people with diabetes, their bodies either do not produce insulin (called Type 1 diabetes) or do not make enough insulin or use insulin in the right way (called Type 2 diabetes). Too much glucose then stays in your blood, and too little reaches your cells. Over time, too much glucose in your blood can cause health problems, such as:
- heart attack
- kidney failure
- pain in the body’s limbs
- circulation problems that lead to feet infections and ulcers
Prediabetes happens when your blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. People with prediabetes usually have no symptoms, yet they’re at risk for getting Type 2 diabetes and the associated problems like heart disease and stroke.
The good news is that prediabetes can be prevented. Also, people who have prediabetes can prevent or delay Type 2 diabetes. Some medications may help, but it is important to make long-term lifestyle changes, such as:
- working towards a healthy weight
- eating a healthy diet (Choose foods that are low in fat and calories and high in fiber. Focus on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.)
- exercising at least 30 minutes per day (Making these positive lifestyle changes can reduce the likelihood of getting diabetes.)
Screening for prediabetes is a good way to care for your health. It’s quick and easy. Don’t wait to become sick. Early detection is the best way to avoid health problems and stay healthy. Whether you do it for yourself or for the ones you love, get screened. You’re worth it. Now, take the first step. Find out your risk for prediabetes.
Your mental health also affects your risk for prediabetes and the ability to make healthy lifestyle choices. When you’ve finished the Prediabetes section, be sure to complete the Emotional Health section.
- Aguayo-Mazzucato, C., Diaque, P., Hernandez, S., Rosas, S., Kostic, A., & Caballero, A. (2019, February). Understanding the growing epidemic of type 2 diabetes in the Hispanic population living in the United States. Retrieved October 19, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6953173/