Passing On an Inheritance

Tips on derailing the diabetes train.

Theresa Garnero By Theresa Garnero, APRN, BC-ADM, MSN, CDE

Is diabetes sneaking around your family tree? Do you have prediabetes and wonder what you can do to prevent from falling off the borderline and into the pool of diabetes? Do you worry about the impact diabetes might have on your children? dLife readers want to know!

 

Ever since my oldest brother got diagnosed with diabetes at age 32, I've been monitoring my own glucose levels. The readings were normal until recently. Despite weight training 5 days a week and playing racquetball at least twice a month, my glucose levels are rising. My glucose reached a record high of 152 two hours after a meal. Is this a sign of diabetes, over-exercising, or overdoing the starchy carbohydrates like white rice?

Possibly, no, and maybe.

The laboratory cutoff values for diagnosing diabetes are two fasting glucose readings more than 126 mg/dl (7.00 mmol/l), or a one-time reading of 200 mg/dl (11.11 mmol/l) regardless of what you ate. Without diabetes, a fasting glucose should be 100 mg/dl (5.56 mmol/l) or less, and no matter what you eat, your glucose should be less than 140 mg/dl (7.78 mmol/l) after meals or snacks. With prediabetes, glucose levels are 101-125 mg/dl (5.61-6.94 mmol/l) fasting, or between 141-199 mg/dl (7.83-11.06 mmol/l) after eating, the latter of which this reader's value falls.

Next Stop, Diabetes?
The prediabetes train always heads toward destination diabetes. It may be a fast or slow train and if you take action, by way of healthy eating or being active, you may slow that train down to a crawl or derail it entirely.

This dLife member has a big check mark next to the being active department, a huge component of diabetes management and prevention. The unknown and equally important variable is healthy eating. What is happening food-wise to give the pancreas a break while maintaining a healthy weight?

Healthy — Not Healthy.
Every minute presents an opportunity to choose between taking the high road to health or not. You have the power to help your body produce and use insulin. If you eat too much rice or any other carbohydrate intense or calorie rich food, it challenges the remaining insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. And if you're carrying extra weight, the little insulin you have doesn't work efficiently. This raises blood glucose, kills off more beta cells and the cycle continues until you get off at stop diabetes.

Let's Play Doctor!
Self-diagnosing is tempting given the accessibility of medical information and glucose monitoring equipment. It's tempting (and risky) to try to figure things out without the help of an expert. If you are right, you'd still need help on the treatment end. When in doubt about where you are on the diabetes track, pay a visit to your healthcare provider for an official diabetes screening and workup. The 152 mg/dl (8.44 mmol/l) glucose example could be falsely high or low depending on test strip information (strips expiration, coded correctly, etc.).

Generation Uh-Oh
In terms of the impact diabetes will have on children, consider genetics, environment and startling statistics. Childhood obesity is in epidemic proportions and kids are getting type 2 diabetes in record numbers. The alarming concern is that these kids will experience heart attacks and strokes in their 40s and that this will be the first generation to reach the end of the line before their parents. We need to lead by example and model healthy behaviors for ourselves and the next generation.

You can't do much about having blue eyes, attached earlobes, or having the genetic trait for diabetes. If you realize you are headed toward destination diabetes, become an active passenger and utilize all the tools necessary for healthy living (including your healthcare provider and a certified diabetes educator). You may be able to give away your inheritance.

(Check out the related "Diabetes Genetics and Warning Signs" article posted here previously for more information about the Diabetes Prevention Program.)

Read Theresa's bio here.

Read more of Theresa Garnero's columns.

NOTE: The information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition.

Last Modified Date: May 24, 2013

All content on dLife.com is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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