SAN ANTONIO – November is Diabetes Awareness Month — a time to educate ourselves about the risks, challenges, and prevention of the 8th leading cause of death in the United States.
In San Antonio, about one out of six people have diabetes, and one out of five people do not know they have it.
Dr. Carolina Solis-Herrera, chief of the endocrinology division at UT Health San Antonio, joined Leading SA on Sunday to discuss the world pandemic affecting our community.
“The only important thing is to remember that Type 2 diabetes is now not only a disease of adults, it’s also a disease that is affecting our adolescents and our children. And for that reason, it’s really important that we know our risks. And we also test to see if we have diabetes,” Dr. Solis-Herrera said.
It isn’t just affecting our community. It is a widespread issue across the country and across Texas.
“Type 2 diabetes is more frequently, unfortunately, in minorities, including the Hispanic population. And as we know, about 65% of our population are Hispanics. So those risk factors, being Hispanic or African-American, Asian, etc., can increase your risk of diabetes.
With a high Hispanic population, Dr. Solis-Herrera emphasized the importance of awareness and education regarding being active, having a healthy lifestyle, and eating healthy foods as they help decrease the prevalence of diabetes.
The awareness should not just stop there; it is important to know about pre-diabetes.
Pre-diabetes is a prequel to diabetes and is even more prevalent in our country.
Dr. Solis-Herrera shared the number and details of how many people are affected by it and how to combat the diagnosis.
“One or two adults have pre-diabetes, which means an abnormal sugar and about 75% of Americans are overweight or obese. So working with your weight and checking your sugar is the best way to be able to prevent it. So this is why it’s important to go to your doctor, get checked, and their questionnaires that you can fill, where we can assess your risk and get you tested,” Dr. Solis-Herrera said.
Dr. Solis-Herrera detailed the significant differences between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
“Type 1 diabetes is a completely different disorder. It’s an autoimmune disease where monoclonal antibodies, you know, antibodies go through your pancreas and they start attacking your pancreas, the organ that produces insulin. And so you can not produce enough insulin to lower your sugar. Type 2 diabetes is more associated with older age, being overweight, being sedentary, and drinking too many sugary drinks,” Dr. Solis-Herrera said.
She went on to share a few ways to prevent diabetes for yourself or your family. They are as follows:
- Maintaining a healthier lifestyle with good physical activity and more than three workouts a week, 30 minutes each.
- Improve your weight. (Dr. Solis-Herrera noted that involuntary weight loss is an alarmed sign that should prompt you to approach your healthcare provider.)
- Eat vegetables by incorporating them into every meal, including greens and non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, beans, and lentils.
As November is Diabetes Awareness Month, UT Health San Antonio will have special clinics and check-ups on World Diabetes Day.