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

Does human growth hormone slow the aging process?

Contrary to its reputation as an anti-aging supplement, human growth hormone is not effective at turning back the clock, and it may carry health risks. Commitment to a healthy diet and regular exercise is still the best formula for healthy aging. (Locked) More »

How super are "superfoods"?

Certain fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds have been labeled "superfoods" because, compared with other foods, they have higher amounts of certain vitamins and minerals and powerful antioxidants. They often are associated with combating high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and even some cancers. But instead of focusing on eating more of individual foods, experts suggest building "superplates" that include a variety of superfoods. (Locked) More »

Low calorie, but high risk?

Research on artificial sweeteners has found mixed results. Some studies have associated them with weight gain and an increased risk for diabetes, while others have found potential benefits, including healthier weight. A recent study found a potential reason for the differences. When study subjects consumed a drink containing sucralose (Splenda) alone, they didn’t see any ill effects, but when the drink included a particular carbohydrate and was consumed for 10 days, it resulted in reduced insulin sensitivity, a precursor to diabetes. (Locked) More »

Updated advice for people with both diabetes and heart disease

Among people who have heart disease, those who also have diabetes may need more aggressive treatment than people who don’t have diabetes. This may include newer drugs that lower blood sugar levels and help people live longer. High blood sugar—the hallmark of diabetes—can injure the inner walls of arteries throughout the body, leaving them more prone to a buildup of fatty, artery-clogging plaque. Elevated blood sugar also stiffens the arteries so they don’t expand as well, and it makes blood platelets stickier and more likely to form blood clots. (Locked) More »

What’s the healthiest way to brew coffee?

A study published online April 22, 2020, by the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology found that drinking filtered coffee was better for health than drinking unfiltered coffee, particularly for older people. More »

Sugar’s not-so-sweet effects on the heart

A sugary diet contributes to weight gain and other factors that boost heart disease risk, including inflammation, disrupted blood sugar control, and increased cholesterol. The typical American diet is very high in added sugar, nearly half of which comes from sugar-sweetened beverages. Another 30% comes from baked goods such as cookies, brownies, cakes, pies, doughnuts, sweet rolls, and pastries. People don’t need to completely give up sweet treats but should enjoy them just once or twice a week rather than daily. (Locked) More »