November is National Diabetes Month. To bring awareness to it, I have interviewed many celebrities on the show, who talk about their own journey or that of a loved one. For example, Dr Phil McGraw has been a diabetes sufferer for decades. And Tim Mcgraw has a relative who has it. (And no! Tim and Dr. Phil are not related!). The fact is, we should all be aware of the disease and what we can – and should – do about it. Indeed, the latest statistics are staggering: 415 million adults world-wide have either Type 1 or 2. That’s basically 1 in 11 people!
So what exactly is diabetes, and why don’t more people talk about it given the mind-boggling numbers? Simply stated, diabetes is a defect in the body’s ability to convert glucose (sugar) to energy. Glucose, the main source of fuel for our body, is absorbed from the intestine and travels around in the blood. But it can be effective only if it gets into the cells. Insulin, the pancreatic hormone that regulates blood glucose levels, is the key. For a person with diabetes, this process is impaired. In the chronic and more serious Type 1 diabetes, which generally occurs during childhood and adolescence, the insulin produced is virtually absent. In the more common Type 2, which usually affects adults over 45, insulin either is not produced in sufficient quantities or it just doesn’t work well enough.
Thankfully, major stars such as Randy Jackson continue to be diabetes crusaders. Not to unprofessionally gush or anything, but I am a huge fan of his and have been since his days as a Judge on American Idol. A Grammy award-winning producer, music industry expert and television idol himself, what many people don’t know is that Jackson has also been managing the everyday reality of living with diabetes for nearly twenty years. Jackson has since been an anti-diabetes stalwart, striving to educate the public on the lifestyle changes he has adopted since his diagnosis. And now he has teamed with Colgate to increase education as to the relationship between diabetes and gum health and oral hygiene.
That said, the following are his personal tips and tricks on living his daily life with diabetes. And, as he always said on: “Yo! Yo! Yo! Check it out. Dawg!”
Make healthy choices: You don’t have to give up the foods you love, but pay attention to what you eat and how much of it hits your plate. Growing up in Louisiana, I ate a lot of rich Southern-fried food and I just didn’t pay attention to the portions. Today. I don’t think of food as “good” or “bad,” but instead think about which foods provide nutrition and keep my blood sugar in check. Everything in moderation.
Embrace movement: When I was first diagnosed, I weighed around 350 pounds and exercise just wasn’t part of my life. I slowly eased into an exercise plan that worked for me, starting with something as simple as walking. Today, I go to the gym regularly, enjoy playing tennis, yoga and Pilates. Find fun ways to incorporate exercise into your daily routine and when you find something that works, stick with it.
Maintain good oral health. I’m a producer, but I also like to sing, so my mouth really matters, and I pay extra attention to keeping it healthy. The reality is, gum disease could be a bigger issue for me than someone without diabetes. People living with diabetes are two times more likely to develop gum disease, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). I make sure to pay extra attention to the products I use. That’s why I use Colgate Total toothpaste. Its unique formula is unsurpassed for its ability to prevent and reverse gingivitis, which is the most common form of gum disease.
Listen to your doctor…and your dentist. It’s easy to be in denial or want to avoid pre-diabetic symptoms. According to the CDC, nearly 1 in 4 four adults living with diabetes does not know they have the condition. Don’t let diabetes sneak up on you. Your mouth is the window into your body, so your dentist can help catch some problems early on. Be sure to listen to your doctor or your dentist early and know your family health history. For some, early treatment of pre-diabetes can actually return blood glucose levels to the normal range.
Create a personalized treatment plan. Everyone’s body and symptoms are different. Make sure to work hand-in-hand with your doctor and dentist to implement the necessary changes into your routine and educate yourself on the disease. It was not until I was diagnosed in 2000 that I learned there are a lot of other health issues linked to diabetes, like gum disease. This deep understanding of the disease motivated me even more to ensure that I was managing it accordingly. And when it comes to my oral health, a simple swap of my toothpaste to Colgate Total® has had meaningful results.
Build a strong support system: Remember, you don’t have to face the everyday realities of diabetes alone. Surround yourself with positive people that will help motivate you, be it friends, family, even an online community like the American Diabetes Association’s Facebook page.
While Jackson admits that some of these changes may seem daunting, a small step like choosing the right toothpaste, such as Colgate Total, a toothpaste that is unsurpassed in its ability to prevent and reverse gingivitis, is an easy measure people living with diabetes can take to prevent gum disease, tissue damage and periodontitis.
Will everyone benefits from being armed with more information about diabetes and what we can do to prevent or control it? To paraphrase another of Jackson’s famous expressions on American Idol: “That will be YES from me, Dawg!”
For more information and ways to manage the everyday reality of living with diabetes, visit Diabetes.org/EverydayReality and for information on oral health go to OralHealthAndDiabetes.com.