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Got health? Vandenberg recognizes Diabetes Awareness Month

November is nationally recognized as Diabetes Awareness Month. Diabetes is a chronic condition that makes it difficult for your body to regulate the sugar, or glucose, in your blood. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Jan Kays/Released)

Created by the International Diabetes Federation, the blue circle is the universal symbol for diabetes. November is nationally recognized as Diabetes Awareness Month. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Jan Kays/Released)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- As children, ice cream and chocolate sweets were an edible dream for taste buds. Fast forward a decade, greasy slices of pizza and sugary sodas were the food and beverage of choice for teenagers. Today, these products are still synonymous with great taste. Unfortunately, consistent devouring of those unhealthy products can result in diabetes.

November is nationally recognized as Diabetes Awareness Month.

Diabetes is a chronic condition that makes it difficult for your body to regulate the sugar, or glucose, in your blood. It is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States and can cause serious health complications such as blindness, kidney disease and limb amputation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"With diabetes, your body is unable to pull the sugar out of your bloodstream into your cells," said Melinda Reed, 30th Medical Group certified diabetes educator and Air Force Space Command nutrition consultant. "Your body is incapable of utilizing the sugars that you eat. Anyone can develop diabetes, and it is often attributed to high blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol, heart disease and stroke."

One of the main issues that plagues someone with diabetes is the will power to eliminate lifelong eating habits.

"I had to take everything that was high in sugar out of my diet, and at the same time add in things high in fiber, like vegetables," said Larry Hill, 30th Space Wing Public Affairs chief of community relations. "Before I made the change, I was having mood swings in the afternoons, sugar highs and lows, and constant irritability."

Symptoms of diabetes include exhaustion, dizziness, increased urination, excessive thirst, weight loss, hunger, blurry vision, numbness, fatigue and irritability. Fortunately, there are prevention measures you can take to combat diabetes.

"The main thing you can do is eat healthy," said Reed. "Eating your fruits and vegetables, the proper amount of protein, and exercising goes a long way in fighting off diabetes."

There are many programs at Vandenberg provided to assist those dealing with diabetes.

"As a certified diabetes educator, I offer diabetic seminars," said Reed. "The classes are held once a month and participants can also see me for one-on-one appointments."

With dedication to fighting diabetes head on, your health, as well as your life, can be drastically improved.

"My blood sugar levels were way up and now they're way back down," said Hill. "I've been able to control that through diet and exercise. I've completely changed my life just by paying attention to those things."

For more information about diabetes, treatments and programs, contact Melinda Reed at 805-606-3404.