November is National Diabetes Awareness Month

2629206224_7d8554b1d8_nAs a licensed massage therapist, my clients’ health is one of my primary concerns on a day-to-day basis. That is why I am always on the lookout to inform you of national health holidays that can help create awareness in our local community.

You may or may not know, but November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. In the U.S., more than 25 million adults and children are living with diabetes; while 79 million more are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The American Diabetes Association estimates that the total national cost of diagnosed diabetes in the United States is $245 billion.

About the American Diabetes Association’s Initiative

For years the American Diabetes Association has made raising diabetes awareness one of its primary objectives. They do this by helping local communities organize events nationwide as well as coordinating online efforts. In 2012, the Association launched a socially focused initiative for American Diabetes Month called “A Day in the Life of Diabetes”, to demonstrate the impact diabetes has on our families and communities across the country.

The main message behind “A Day in the Life of Diabetes” is that diabetes doesn’t stop. Diabetes is 24/7 and can be fatal if not treated. Here are some health facts about diabetes from the American Diabetes Association:

  • On average, two out of three people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke.
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure and new cases of blindness among adults.
  • The rate of amputation for people with diabetes is 10 times higher than for people without diabetes.
  • About 60-70 percent of people with diabetes have mild to severe forms of nerve damage that could result in pain in the feet or hands, slowed digestion, sexual dysfunction and other nerve problems.

A targeted diet plan can provide tremendous benefit in preventing diabetes. The key is to maintaining a low glycemic index. Glycemic index refers to the amount of glucose that is released into your blood two hours after a meal. Staying away from high glycemic foods is a given. This includes syrups, white grains (as they are filled with refined sugars), and certain types of fruits and vegetables. For men, the recommended daily amount of sugar is no more than 36 grams. The recommended amount of sugar for women is significantly lower at only 24 grams a day.

The Benefits of a Holistic Approach for Diabetes

Now you may be asking yourself, “How does massage therapy help with diabetes?” In general, massage has proven to be a powerful complementary therapy. For diabetes patients, there are three main aspects that massage therapy can help.

Improved circulation – Massage therapy has been proven time and time again to help with the efficient transport of oxygen throughout the body. With improved circulation, this also improves the cells’ insulin uptake.

Myofascial effects –Increased blood sugar can thicken connective tissue which can limit mobility and tissue elasticity. Massage can help reduce those kinds of effects.

Relaxation – The benefits of relaxation are often underestimated. However when you consider the physical and psychological stresses of living with a condition that needs daily monitoring and self-medication, it’s easy to see how therapeutic massage therapy can be for your nervous system. Once the nervous system calms, there is a reduction of stress hormones and the diabetic client can find a homeostasis in blood sugar levels.

If you feel that you are at risk for diabetes, a visit to your doctor will address any of your concerns. Most preventative measures can be implemented with small changes. Just remember to always put your health first.


Photo credit: Jill A. Brown / CC BY

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