Diabetes

Diabetes occurs when the body has trouble using the sugar it gets from food for energy. Sugar builds up in the bloodstream. High blood sugar can have immediate effects, like blurry vision. It can also cause problems over time, like heart disease and blindness.

There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 diabetes (once called juvenile-onset diabetes) and type 2 diabetes (once called adult-onset diabetes). Both are caused by problems making or using insulin, a hormone that makes it possible for cells to use glucose, also known as blood sugar, for energy.

When you eat, your body breaks down carbohydrates into a simple sugar called glucose. It also produces a hormone called insulin that signals the body's cells to absorb glucose from the bloodstream. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body doesn't make enough insulin, or stops making it altogether. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body's cells don't respond to insulin. Either way, since sugar can't get into cells, it builds up in the bloodstream. 

Too much sugar in the blood can cause a range of uncomfortable symptoms. These include:

  • blurry vision
  • intense thirst
  • need to urinate often
  • fatigue
  • numbness or tingling in the hands or feet

Type 1 diabetes often comes on suddenly. It usually strikes children and teenagers, but can appear later in life. It is an autoimmune disease, meaning it happens because the body's immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the body's insulin-making cells. Type 1 diabetes can't be cured, but it can be managed by taking insulin before eating.

Type 2 diabetes takes longer to develop. It can begin any time from childhood onward. Type 2 diabetes is usually triggered by being overweight or obese and not getting much physical activity. Treatment for type 2 diabetes includes weight loss if needed, daily exercise, a healthy diet, and medications.

Diabetes Articles

Conquer your fear of dietary fat

For decades, high intake of fat was thought to cause weight gain, heart disease, and maybe even cancer. The solution? Go low-fat, which often meant consuming more carbs and more sugar. But nutritionists now suggest people actually need adequate amounts of "good" unsaturated fat, and less "bad" saturated fat, for optimal health. Following popular heart-healthy diets, like the Mediterranean and MIND diets, and making simple dietary changes can help people get adequate amounts of good fats. (Locked) More »

Having one chronic condition can boost the risk for others

Many chronic conditions seem to be related. Examples include obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and heart disease; hearing loss and dementia; obstructive sleep apnea and high blood pressure; various autoimmune diseases; and obesity and joint problems. People with chronic conditions should ask their doctors about the risk for associated diseases. In some cases, they should have certain health screenings to check for them. In other cases, additional screening isn’t automatic. (Locked) More »

Can you supercharge the Mediterranean diet?

A Mediterranean diet featuring plant-based proteins is associated with more weight loss and steeper declines in cholesterol, insulin resistance, and inflammation markers than a Mediterranean diet with more animal-based proteins. More »

The benefits of brief bursts of exercise

Doing vigorous exercise for just 12 minutes triggers changes in blood levels of substances linked to cardiovascular health. The patterns of these substances may provide a way to gauge a person’s fitness level. More »

Will these surprising factors really raise your blood sugar?

The Internet contains many claims about factors that increase blood sugar. Some, however, just don’t hold up. For example, stress from sunburn pain, not drinking enough water, and using steroid nasal sprays will not make blood sugar spike. Likewise, it’s unclear if caffeinated coffee, artificial sweeteners, or gum disease will increase blood sugar. However, it is well established that some factors do raise blood sugar over time, such as overeating, a sedentary lifestyle, and obesity. (Locked) More »

How important are whole grains in my diet?

Whole grains are equally important as fruits and vegetables for a balanced healthy diet. People who want to choose food products with whole grains should look for the word "whole" or "whole-grain" before the grain’s name as the first ingredient. (Locked) More »

How can I cut down on sugar in my diet?

Cutting down on daily sugar intake may protect long-term health. People should opt for whole foods over processed choices. When choosing packaged foods, be certain to check the label and avoid those with too much added sugar. More »