HomeNutritionAthletes Aren’t Letting Diabetes Slow Them Down

Athletes Aren’t Letting Diabetes Slow Them Down

When people are diagnosed with diabetes, there are so many things that can run through their minds.  How are their daily lives going to be altered? What are they going to have to sacrifice to stay healthy? Will they still be able to participate in their favorite sports?

Imagine being a professional athlete, whose job demands that the athlete be in tip top shape and consistently maintain a high performance level under tremendous pressure from fans, coaches, and the media. In addition to those stress factors, imagine living with diabetes.  According to the seekwellness.com diabetes fact sheet, type 2 diabetes is generally associated with obesity, older age, family history, physical inactivity, and certain ethnicities. Eighty percent of people with type 2 diabetes are considered to be overweight. This is one possible reason why it is so uncommon for professional athletes to have type 2 diabetes. In those diagnosed with type 1, the body’s immune system attacks the beta cells and although the disease may be undetermined for some time, it may be caused by autoimmune, genetic, or environmental factors. Type 1 diabetes accounts for 5-10% of those diagnosed in the United States and typically develops in children and young adults under the age of 20.  However, type 1 has recently been appearing in people at any age.  Although we don’t see many professional athletes that live their life with type 2 diabetes, there are a few that live with type 1.

Newly acquired Chicago Bears quarterback, Jay Cutler, was diagnosed in 2008 with type 1 diabetes. Even though Cutler has to give himself multiple insulin injections daily, he does not let the injections or the disease get in the way of being a Pro Bowl quarterback in the National Football League. “Diabetes is the toughest opponent I’ve ever faced, but I wasn’t going to let it slow down my career,” Cutler says when he announced that he is joining the Inspired by Diabetes Campaign. During his first season managing his diabetes with injections, he made his first Pro Bowl appearance. Cutler’s positive “can do” attitude is an inspiration for young athletes who may have been diagnosed with diabetes and are uncertain as to whether they can continue participating in organized sports. Cutler shows that the disease is not bigger than the person. There is a level of control an individual can have over the disease in order to lead a manageable life on and off the field.  Cutler’s diagnosis displays the human side of athletes and will allow him to be a role model to others with diabetes. With proper management and personal determination, Cutler proves that living a normal, active life with diabetes is completely possible.

Another example of a professional athlete successfully managing his diabetes is Gary Hall Jr., a U.S. Olympic gold medalist in swimming. Gary Hall was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in March 1999. When he was diagnosed, Gary was told by doctors that his swimming career was over.  At that point Gary began learning everything he could about type 1 diabetes and how he could manage his condition. When asked how the stress of preparing for the Olympics affected his diabetes control, he responded, “It forces me to pay extra-close attention in order for me to maintain my levels where they need to be, so I can be competitive with the best athletes in the world.” Gary quickly recognized that living with diabetes can be maintained with insulin injection therapy, which requires paying close attention to his blood sugar levels, being compliant with the treatment regimen, and maintaining healthy nutrition and exercise.  Gary believes that in sports or in life that you can accomplish anything if you truly set your mind to it.

Both Cutler and Hall are inspirations to those with and without diabetes.  As they both advocate maintaining therapy compliance and monitoring glucose levels, they are respectable role models for children with the condition. Diabetes may be very difficult to deal with at first, but with patience, knowledge, and drive, you can live the healthy and active life that you desire.

Source by Catherine Albertson

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