What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease in which people have extremely high levels of glucose (sugar) in their blood, and sometimes urine. There are two types of diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes occurs in young people when their body loses the ability to produce insulin. Without insulin, glucose stays in the blood stream and damages the body. About 5% of all cases of diabetes are type 1 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes occurs in people of all ages, most frequently in adults. This type of diabetes does not have one specific cause, but the disease generally occurs when the patient’s body becomes resistant to the action of insulin, leading to high levels of glucose in the blood.

How do I prevent diabetes?

The single biggest risk factor for diabetes is being overweight or obese. So, the best way to prevent diabetes is to lose weight by increasing your activity level. Ideally, adults should exercise for at least 30 minutes for 5 or more days per week, for a total of 150 minutes per week.

If you especially concerned that you might have diabetes, there are tests of blood glucose levels that your doctor can order.

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I already have diabetes. What should I do about it?

In addition to speaking with your doctor about possible medications to use and methods of tracking your blood sugar levels, there are some lifestyle changes that all diabetics should try to make.

Increasing your activity level by engaging in moderate exercise is a great way to help control your blood sugar levels. Most importantly, chose a physical activity that you enjoy; the more fun you have, the more you will do it!

There are also some important dietary choices diabetics should make. Reduce the amount of sugary drinks (soda, sugar-sweetened coffee, etc.) you drink and the amount of salty or fatty foods you eat. Instead, increase the amount of whole grains, dark green vegetables, and beans and peas that you eat.