continuous glucose monitor

Healthy Aging 2024: Diabetes 101

Diabetes is a prevailing health concern for many women, playing a substantial role in the onset of heart disease. Diabetes arises when blood sugars remain elevated for extended periods. Prolonged high blood sugars lead to tissue damage, contributing to various illnesses, premature aging, and even death if left untreated. Fortunately, this disease is preventable, and initiating preventive measures sooner rather than later should be a top priority. This week on Fox 17, Dr. Diana Bitner provides crucial insights for individuals with diabetes and those at risk to stay better informed about their health. 

Diabetes 101

Understanding the consequences and risks associated with diabetes will help you to take inventory of your health and work toward lifestyle changes to prevent onset. Follow along as we review each step! 

Step 1: Understand the Consequences of Diabetes 

Like any condition, diabetes has numerous unpleasant symptoms, including: 

  • Fatigue 
  • Sugar cravings and hunger 
  • Weight gain that does not make sense, especially belly fat 
  • Needing to take medication 
  • Increased risk of heart attack, heart failure, and dementia 


Step 2: Know Your Risks

Diabetes risks include: 

  • Family history of diabetes or prediabetes 
  • If your mother had diabetes when she was pregnant with you 
  • If you had diabetes when you were pregnant 
  • Untreated menopause (low estrogen) 
  • Consistent sleep deprivation 


Step 3: Take Inventory of Your Current Health 

Before you can make lifestyle changes and track progress, it is important to start with a health baseline. 

  • Track symptoms of craving, hunger, easy weight gain, fatigue, hot flashes, and yeast infections.
  • Measure your waist circumference at your hip bones below your belly button. See if you are greater than or less than 35 inches.  
  • Ask your doctor to order a blood test. Ideal Numbers include: 
    • Fasting blood sugar less than 100 
    • A1C less than 5.6. The Prediabetes range is 5.6 to 6.3 and Diabetes range is anything over 6.3.  
  • Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM): Consistent blood sugars of 120 or less 1 hour after you eat and less than 100 when fasting. 


Step 4: Take Preventative Steps 

Often, Type II Diabetes can be prevented through healthy lifestyle changes. These include:  

  • Getting enough sleep 
  • Maintaining a healthy body composition: 
    • Body fat less than 35%
    • Muscle mass greater than 24% 
    • Waist Circumference less than 35 inches 
  • Exercise daily for fat loss (Zone 2) and muscle mass (strength training
  • Learn how your body responds to foods with a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) and work to keep the levels between 70-120.
  • Focus on high-fiber foods and reduce sugar intake, especially juice, sugary soda, sugar, or honey. 
  • Treat perimenopause and menopause, which increase the risk of insulin resistance and Diabetes. Make sure you know if estrogen is safe for you, as it is for most women. 
  • Consider Metformin, a safe medicine that can increase longevity for people at risk for Diabetes.
  • Consider the Glucagon-like-peptide-1 agonists or GLP-1 injectable medications if you have obesity or prediabetes.


Patient Story: 

Jane was 47 years old and gaining weight. She was so frustrated and did not get it. She was eating and exercising the same, but her jeans got tighter and tighter. Jane felt hungry all the time and tired. She was having night sweats, not sleeping well, and feeling stressed. Her blood tests showed a fasting blood sugar of 100 and an A1C of 6.0. She had prediabetes! No wonder her belly fat was nine and her waist 37 inches. To make changes, she started wearing a CGM, learned to eat differently, and prioritized sleep along with 20 minutes of daily exercise. Progress was slow, so she added Metformin, determined to get off the medication in six months. Jane now had answers and had a plan to get her health back on track. 

Health Tip of the Week: 

Embrace a proactive approach to healthy aging to ensure vitality and high energy levels well into your 90’s and beyond! Prioritize understanding your vital health indicators. Request an A1C test, even if your fasting blood sugar appears normal, to know how your habits influence your health risks. Be proactive, speak up, and ask questions – it could make a significant difference and potentially save your life!


Watch the full segment.