Facebook Chat Focuses on Diabetes

Diabetes diagnosis, treatment and management took center stage Nov. 15 as NorthBay Healthcare specialist Miya Allen, M.D., spent a half hour on Facebook answering questions about the disease during the latest #OurDocTalk.

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month and Dr. Allen helped to educate and focus attention on the disease through the chat on the NorthBay Facebook page (Facebook.com/NorthBayHealthcare).

Explaining that a diagnosis of diabetes can only be confirmed through blood tests, Dr. Allen detailed the differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. #OurDocTalk

"Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition and means that the body has attacked the important cells in the pancreas that make insulin," she noted. "Type 2 diabetes is characterized by insulin resistance. Patients with Type 2 diabetes can often make insulin, but just not enough to keep up with the body's needs. When the cells in the pancreas become overwhelmed, then people with Type 2 diabetes can become dependent on insulin also. Just being on insulin does not mean someone has Type 1 diabetes. I get asked that question frequently."

She also explained pre-diabetes.

"We used the term pre-diabetes to describe when people's bodies do not process their blood sugar well, but they have not yet been diagnosed with diabetes," she said. "Prediabetes does put you at risk for developing diabetes however. One can manage pre-diabetes and reduce the risk of developing diabetes, by adopting an exercise program and limiting carbohydrates. The goal of these lifestyle changes should be a weight loss goal of 5 percent to 10 percent of your current body weight but any amount of weight loss is beneficial."

And she noted that diabetes can be "reversed" with lifestyle changes. "I congratulate my patients when they are able to do that but also emphasize that diabetes can come back. I like to say that they are managing the diabetes to stress the importance of maintaining those beneficial behaviors," she said.

As for artificial sweeteners, Dr. Allen said there is some new information that reported they can affect how a body processes sugar and contribute to insulin resistance, even though they provide no calories. "Artificial sweeteners can raise blood sugars in some patients who have diabetes when eaten in large quantities, but that is not too common," she said. "I generally say it's best to stay away from sweetened beverages of any kind. Water is the best hydration."

The full chat can be viewed on the NorthBay Facebook page (Facebook.com/NorthBayHealthcare).