Diabetes Awareness Month

Missy O., B.S. Nutritional Science, Lifestyle Consultant, Coon Rapids

Client Testimonial, Paul D., Coon Rapids, MN

I needed to make a change. April 15th of 2020, I had a physical and A1C check and weighed 330 lbs. and had an A1C of 10.1. I was told that either I lower my A1C or start injecting insulin. I enrolled in Livea. Since then, my relationship with food has fundamentally changed. My Livea coach has helped me realize food as fuel, as opposed to food as an event. The meal tracking on the app helps me to be aware of what I am eating and how much.  I have made significant progress, on both weight and A1C. I have not reached my goal of 100 lbs., but to date have lost 62, and my A1C is now 5.6! I am able to move and have been through 2 full wardrobe changes since I started in May. I have energy that I thought I had lost forever, and I am also sleeping better. I feel the need to exercise. This program has changed my life! 

With diabetes awareness month upon us, it is a perfect time to shed some light on a disease that affects nearly 12% of Americans, or roughly 37 million people. There are nearly 3 million new diagnoses every year, and with a steady increase in the number of Americans living with risk factors for Type 2 diabetes, it can only be assumed that this number will increase.  Chances are, you have some understanding of what diabetes is. You’ve most likely heard the buzzwords: Type 1, Type 2, blood sugar, A1C… What does it all mean? What is diabetes and how does it affect the body? Most importantly, what are your individual risk factors and what can be done to prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes?

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes refers to a group of diseases that affect the way that the body uses glucose. Glucose is an important source of fuel for the cells that make up your body tissue; however, it is crucial that the amount of glucose in your blood is regulated. Glucose comes from 2 sources: the food we eat and our liver. In order to regulate blood sugar, the pancreas produces insulin. Insulin allows glucose into the blood stream and then (ideally) keeps it within a healthy range. Someone with diabetes has a difficult time keeping their blood sugar in a healthy range, either because their pancreas cannot produce enough insulin or because they have become resistant to insulin. There are three types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2, and Gestational (1).

Type 1 Diabetes: Type 1, which usually presents itself during adolescence, is an auto-immune disorder where the body’s immune system damages the pancreatic cells and the pancreas can no longer produce enough, if any insulin. Type 1 diabetes is not preventable and must be managed for life, as there is no cure.

Type 2 Diabetes: Type 2 usually presents itself later in life; however, the average age of onset is much younger than it was decades ago. This form of diabetes is a result of insulin resistance – the cells are not responding normally to insulin, despite the fact that the pancreas may still be producing a sufficient amount. Type 2 Diabetes is preventable in most cases and can often be managed without insulin injections.

Gestational Diabetes: Gestational diabetes is diabetes that is diagnosed during pregnancy. Not only can it lead to pregnancy complications, but it can also affect the health of the baby, as well as increasing the risk of the mother receiving a Type 2 Diabetes diagnosis in the future.

How Does Diabetes Affect the Body?

Regardless of the type of diabetes, the lack of insulin production or insulin resistance results in a buildup of sugar in the bloodstream or high blood sugar. Over time, consistent high blood sugar can have very serious effects on the body. You may be familiar with the term ketoacidosis. When high blood sugar persists over time, toxic acids, known as ketones, can build up in the blood and urine. This can cause dry mouth, abdominal pain, shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, confusion, or even lack of consciousness. Over time, this can cause damage to the vessels that supply blood to vital organs, resulting in an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, nerve damage and vision problems. The symptoms of untreated or undiagnosed diabetes can unfortunately present themselves slowly over time, meaning that people may not recognize signs until some damage has already been done. Some of these early signs include numbness in the fingers and toes, chronic thirst, and the need to urinate frequently, vision irregularities, increased fatigue, weakened immune system, wounds that don’t heal easily, and feeling dizzy or light-headed. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, especially if you have risk factors for diabetes, it is important to speak to your physician so they can check your A1C, which is a measure of your average blood sugar over a 3-month span (1).

Risk Factors

For the sake of this conversation, we’re going to be speaking about the risk factors and prevention of Type 2 Diabetes, as Type 1 cannot be prevented. There are some genetic risk factors for Type 2 Diabetes, including family history and race. As with most chronic illnesses, a family history of diabetes or the risk factors of diabetes mean a higher chance of developing the disease. There is also a higher risk for those that are Native American, African American, and Hispanic. In addition, there are several risk factors that are within our control…

Prediabetes diagnosis – Prediabetes is a condition where blood sugar levels are consistently higher than normal, but not high enough to receive an official diabetes diagnosis. If diagnosed with prediabetes, it is crucial to take the necessary steps to decrease other risk factors.

Have had gestational diabetes – A diagnosis of gestational diabetes or giving birth to a baby that is over 9 pounds greatly increases the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.

Overweight/Obese – Being overweight, and especially being obese, is the number one risk factor for Type 2 Diabetes. This also tends to contribute to other comorbidities such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

Fat distribution – Individuals that carry more fat in their abdomen, as opposed to their hips and thighs, are at a greater risk. Men that measure a waist circumference over 40 inches and women with a waist circumference over 35 inches are at an increased risk.

Sedentary lifestyle – The less active you are, the higher your risk for Type 2 Diabetes. Not only do sedentary individuals have a more difficult time managing their weight, but they also tend to have higher blood sugar (2).

If you have concerns that you are at a higher risk for diabetes, it is crucial to take the necessary steps to improve your health status and focus on prevention.


The key to preventing Type 2 Diabetes is living a healthy lifestyle, specifically eating healthy, staying active, and avoiding high risk behavior. Here are some of the specific lifestyle adjustments that can be made to improve your overall health status:

Diet: Eating for well-maintained blood sugar will not only help prevent type 2 diabetes but will also help to manage weight. This includes a diet that is rich in nutrient-dense, high fiber foods. Vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains should be the foundation of your diet. In addition, avoiding refined carbs like sugar and foods containing bleached flour is very important for maintaining blood sugar. It is also ideal to eat small meals throughout the day, so blood sugar doesn’t dip/spike.

Stay Active: Exercise helps maintain a healthy weight, and aids in lowering blood sugar. Adults should get at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week. Studies have shown that exercising at least 3 times per week greatly decreases your risk.

Avoid High-Risk Behaviors: Regular alcohol consumption and smoking can increase the risk for Type 2 Diabetes. Avoiding these behaviors will not only improve your overall health, but also lessen your risk of disease (3).

One of the main focuses of the Livea programming is eating for consistent blood sugar levels. Eating small meals throughout the day that are rich in protein and fiber and relatively low in carbohydrates ensures that you don’t experience spikes and dips in blood sugar, but rather have a slow, steady release of glucose into the blood stream. This will not only decrease the risk for Type 2 Diabetes but will also allow you to feel energized and alert throughout the day. Your Livea consultants possess a wealth of information about maintaining blood sugar and eating for a healthy lifestyle as always reach out to your center consultants with any questions that you may have.


Client Testimonial, John H., Apple Valley, MN

What a difference 5 months makes!


What’s missing?

  • 50 pounds (still have another 10 to go)!
  • 40” waist in September, 34” waist today!
  • Now off all medications for type 2 diabetes!
  • Off all blood pressure medication!
  • No longer using a CPAP machine to sleep!
  • No more back pain, sweating, out of breath!


Now, we’re selling our townhome to move into a single-family home where I can do yard work and woodworking in my shop again. Life is good!!!





  1. Center for Disease Control. “What is Diabetes?” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2022, https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/diabetes.html
  2. Mayo Clinic. “Diabetes.” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2022, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/symptoms-causes/syc-20371444
  3. President and Fellows of Harvard College. “Healthy Eating For Blood Sugar Control.” Harvard Medical School. Harvard Health Publishing, 2021. https://www.health.harvard.edu