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Diabetes

Diabetes prevention is proven, possible, and powerful. Studies show that people at high risk for type 2 diabetes can prevent or delay the onset of the disease by losing 5 to 7 percent of their body weight. You can do it by eating healthier and getting 30 minutes of physical activity 5 days a week. In other words: you don't have to knock yourself out to prevent diabetes. The key is: small steps that lead to big rewards. Learn more about your risk for developing type 2 diabetes and the small steps you can take to delay or prevent the disease and live a long, healthy life.

Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose, or sugar, for our bodies to use for energy. The pancreas, makes insulin (a hormone) to help glucose get into the cells of our bodies. Insulin is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. When you have diabetes, your body either doesn't make enough insulin or can't use its own insulin as well as it should. This causes sugar to build up in your blood.

Diabetes can cause serious health complications including heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and lower-extremity amputations. Diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.

According to the American Diabetes Association there are 20.8 million people in the United States (7% of the population) who have diabetes. Around 14.6 million have been diagnosed with diabetes, while 6.2 million people (or nearly one-third) are unaware that they have the disease.

Some people are more likely to get diabetes. According to the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP), Some people may have a higher chance of getting diabetes. They should ask their doctor if they need to be tested for diabetes. These include people who

  1. are ages 45 and older
  2. are overweight
  3. are African American, Hispanic/Latino American, Asian American or Pacific Islander, or American Indian
  4. have a parent, brother, or sister with diabetes
  5. have high blood pressure (above 140/90)
  6. have low HDL (good cholesterol) and high levels of blood fats
  7. have had diabetes when pregnant or gave birth to a large baby (over 9 pounds)
  8. are active less than three times a week

Type 1 diabetes results from the body's failure to produce insulin, the hormone that "unlocks" the cells of the body, allowing glucose to enter and fuel them. It is estimated that 5-10% of Americans who are diagnosed with diabetes have type 1 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes results from insulin resistance (a condition in which the body fails to properly use insulin), combined with relative insulin deficiency. Most Americans who are diagnosed with diabetes have type 2 diabetes.

Gestational diabetes is a form of glucose intolerance that is diagnosed in some women during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes occurs more frequently among African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, and American Indians. It is also more common among obese women and women with a family history of diabetes. During pregnancy, gestational diabetes requires treatment to normalize maternal blood glucose levels to avoid complications in the infant. After pregnancy, 5% to 10% of women with gestational diabetes are found to have type 2 diabetes. Women who have had gestational diabetes have a 20% to 50% chance of developing diabetes in the next 5-10 years.

Hypoglycemia - also called low blood glucose/sugar, occurs when your blood glucose (blood sugar) level drops too low to provide enough energy for your body's activities. In adults or children older than 10 years, hypoglycemia is uncommon except as a side effect of diabetes treatment, but it can result from other medications or diseases, hormone or enzyme deficiencies, or tumors.

Hyperglycemia - also called high blood glucose/sugar. Often, you can lower your blood glucose level by exercising. Cutting down on the amount of food you eat might also help. Work with your dietitian to make changes in your meal plan. If exercise and changes in your diet don't work, your doctor may change the amount of your medication or insulin or possibly the timing of when you take it.

Do four things every day to lower high blood glucose:

  1. Follow your meal plan.
  2. Be physically active.
  3. Take your diabetes medicine.
  4. Check your blood glucose.

Experts say most people with diabetes should try to keep their blood glucose level as close as possible to the level of someone who doesn't have diabetes. The closer to normal your blood glucose is, the lower your chances are of developing damage to your eyes, kidneys, and nerves.