Diabetes in the Aboriginal Community
The traditional lifestyle of Aboriginal peoples was active and included eating healthy food. Many people followed a healthy lifestyle which eliminated many people from being affected by conditions such as high blood pressure. cholesterol and obesity. Today, lifestyles have changed as people are not as active and eat less healthy food. The change in our lifestyle are one of the factors that have contributed to an increasing rate of type 2 diabetes in our communities.
Type 2 diabetes
In type 2 diabetes, your body has a hard time using and storing food energy. The food energy that your body needs is a type of sugar called glucose. Glucose comes from health foods such as fruit, milk, starchy foods (bread, rice, noodles) plus sugar-sweetened foods and drinks. After eating these types of foods, your blood glucose level increases.
When a person has diabetes, their pancreas is not able to make enough insulin or their cells become resistance to insulin (also referred to as insulin resistance). Insulin is a hormone, that acts like a key to the door of our cells to let glucose in and be utilized for energy. When there is not enough insulin, glucose remains in the bloodstream and this can cause many serious complications in our body that affect our eyes, heat, kidneys and feet-to name a few.
Risk factors for type 2 diabetes:
- Age > 40 years
- Overweight or a BMI > 24.9
- High Blood Pressure
- High Cholesterol
- A family member, such as parent or sibling with diabetes
- Giving birth to a baby that weighed >4kg (9lb)
- Diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes)
- Poly cystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
Hyperglycemia – high blood glucose
Signs and symptoms you may experience if your blood glucose levels are high:
- Dry Mouth
- Increased Thirst
- Increased Urination
- Extreme tiredness
- Blurred Vision
Hypoglycemia – low blood glucose
Signs and symptoms you may experience if your blood glucose levels are low:
- Mood changes
- Extreme tiredness
- Blurred Vision
Commonly Used Diabetes Medications
1. Metformin – this medication helps your cells respond to insulin and reduce the amount of glucose released by your liver. The actions of this medication therefore help insulin move the glucose from the blood stream into the cells and prevent the liver from releasing glucose in the blood stream when not needed.
2. Januvia – a once-a-day medication that along with diet and exercise, can help control blood glucose levels. Januvia helps your body slowly absorb glucose in the intestine.
3. Acarbose – this medication helps slow the breakdown of food that contains carbohydrates so that the absorption of glucose into your blood stream is slower. This action helps reduce your blood glucose levels.
4. Sulfonylureas (Glicazide, Glimepiride, Glyburide) – these medications signal your pancreas to produce more insulin. Insulin will then help move glucose into the cells for energy.
5. Nonsulfonylurea (Repaglinide) – this medication also signals your pancreas to produce more insulin; however the insulin is only produced when you eat as this medication is taken meals.
5. Insulin – insulin is used along with other diabetes medications or can be used solely on its own. Insulin injections act the same way insulin acts when it is produced by your pancreas.
To learn more about diabetes, diabetes medications, self-management skills and get answers to any other diabetes-related questions you may have, please contact:
Diabetes Dietitian Educator
613-748-0657 ext 285
Diabetes Nurse Educator
613-748-0657 ext 231
Take care of your whole body, mind and spirit. Being well helps you, your family and community.