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By Holliann Burnett, Public Information Intern

Whether intended or not, Diabetes Awareness Month falls right on the American calendar of large autumn gatherings, where food, fun and festivities are the norm. These occasions can lead to unhealthy meals and practices that can increase the likelihood of preventable diseases, like diabetes. Twice as common among American Indians and Alaska Natives as the general population, almost 17 percent of Indigenous adults in Oklahoma are diagnosed with the disease. On Nov. 14, 2019, also known as World Diabetes Day, health and wellness professionals like those at the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Diabetes Initiative encourage the public to understand one of America’s most common diseases.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes occurs when your blood sugar is too high. People with diabetes either do not produce insulin, do not make enough, or do not process it correctly. The most common types of diabetes are Type 1, Type 2 and gestational diabetes. When someone has Type 1 diabetes, their pancreas does not produce insulin, which is needed to convert food into energy for the body. According to the American Diabetes Association, 1.25 million Americans have Type 1 diabetes, and 40,000 people will be diagnosed with it this year.

Type 2 diabetes is when your body does not use insulin properly, which is more common.

Gestational diabetes occurs in some women who are pregnant. A majority of the time, this type of diabetes ends after pregnancy, but it does cause a greater chance of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life.

Is diabetes preventable?

Type 1 diabetes is not preventable and typically occurs in children and young adults. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Type 2 diabetes, which typically occurs in middle-aged to older people, is largely preventable by maintaining one’s weight, living an active lifestyle, eating a proper diet and not smoking.

What is pre-diabetes?

Pre-diabetes is when one’s blood sugar levels are higher than normal, yet not high enough to be considered diabetic. Someone diagnosed with pre-diabetes is not guaranteed to develop Type 2 diabetes if they focus on losing weight, eating healthy and staying active.

What can one do to live healthier if they have diabetes?

Taking your medication — even when you feel good — is crucial for those who have diabetes. Implementing daily exercise or just finding an activity you enjoy doing to get you moving will also help those with diabetes to live healthier. Another vital way to live healthy with diabetes is to eat healthy and find a diet that works for you.

Where can one find support at CPN for those who have diabetes?

CPN offers the Diabetes Initiative Program to prevent amputations, kidney failure, blindness and heart disease in those diagnosed with diabetes. CPN also offers a Beginning Education About Diabetes class consisting of five sessions that provide information about the disease and management tips to those recently diagnosed. For those close to Tribal headquarters near Shawnee, Oklahoma, you can visit FireLake Wellness Center. For more information about the CPN Diabetes Initiative, visit cpn.news/diabetesinitiative or call 405-395-9304.