November is National Diabetes Awareness Month

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month

The pink ribbons of breast cancer awareness in October should be replaced with light blue reminders in November. It is National Diabetes Awareness Month. There are many reasons to connect elevated blood glucose levels with the eleventh month of the year.

Perhaps the most obvious is the birthday of Dr. Frederick Banting, a Canadian medical scientist and physician. He is the co-discoverer of insulin and its therapeutic potential. He was born on Nov. 15, 1891. Dr. Banting was awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine for his work with insulin and diabetes in 1923.

November marks the beginning of the overeating season. It starts on Oct. 31 with trick-or-treat candy and ends sometime in January. These two and a half months of accepted and encouraged overindulging occur annually.

Someone with diabetes deals with uncontrolled blood glucose caused by an inability to make or use insulin in their body. Intentionally allowing excess blood sugar to flow freely throughout blood vessels over time will damage many organs. It is a flood of sweetness that may satisfy the taste buds but can destroy the body.

The Autumnal Equinox that occurs at the end of September continues to shorten daylight hours until the Winter Solstice at the end of December. During this season the sun’s rays decrease and nighttime increases. This difference becomes more noticeable during November.

As body and its metabolism slows down, cortisol, the main stress hormone, increases as the body faces the stress of environmental changes. The rise of cortisol can lead to weight gain and an imbalance of blood glucose levels. The desire for comfort food skyrockets. November is often a very stressful month.

Outdoor activities decrease in November. It is too cold to water ski and too warm to snow ski. Planting and harvesting are over. It becomes a bother to bundle up to enjoy the activities that are usually associated with warmer weather. There are fewer activities that burn up excess glucose in the body, allowing blood sugar levels to increase.

A desire to make the upcoming holiday better than the previous year’s events is a strong motivator for added stress and overspending. Grieving families and new births intensify sentimental emotions. Mindless eating and decreased activity intensify during November.

A barrage of holiday cheer and cookies, the stress of less sunlight and Christmas preparations, plus less activity and exercise in November can result in higher blood sugar levels. Knowing a problem is half solving it. Being aware of the pitfalls that November can bring can help to alleviate falling into the pit of uncontrolled increased blood glucose levels.

Being more mindful of holiday preparations and parties during November can make this month part of the solution, not the problem. Increased activity will burn up blood sugars. Stop to smell the season, not taste it. Thankfulness can reduce high cortisol levels.

Bobbie Randall is a Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist, Registered, Licensed Dietitian. Contact her at bobbierandallrd@gmail.com