Diabetes 101 – Learning About Diabetes
Diabetes is a condition in which blood glucose (sugar) is too high. The body uses glucose from food as a source of energy, much like a car uses gasoline for fuel.
Insulin , a hormone that is made in the pancreas, moves glucose from the bloodstream into cells to be used for energy. When you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin (or stops making insulin altogether), or doesn’t use its own insulin as well as it should. As a result, glucose builds up in the blood and can’t get into cells to be used for energy.
There are many types of diabetes. Two of the main types of diabetes are type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes . Type 1 diabetes occurs when the immune system attacks and destroys the cells in the pancreas (called beta cells ) that make insulin. The exact cause of type 1 diabetes isn’t known, but scientists think that genes or environmental factors (such as viruses) could be responsible.
Type 2 diabetes is also caused by genes, as well as lifestyle factors, such as being overweight and not getting enough physical activity . The good news is that type 2 diabetes can be prevented by losing between 5% and 10% of your body weight and aiming to get at least 15 minutes of moderate physical activity each week.
Who gets diabetes?
About 34.2 million (10.5%) Americans have diabetes . Anyone at any age can get either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes accounts for about 5% of cases of diabetes. However, type 1 diabetes usually appears during childhood or adolescents. But again, adults get type 1 diabetes, too. Risk factors for type 1 diabetes include genes from both parents and environmental factors such as cold weather and viruses. Scientists think that people who are breastfed as infants and introduced to solid foods at a later age are less likely to get type 1 diabetes.
There are more risk factors for type 2 diabetes, and it’s more common than type 1 diabetes, accounting for 90% to 95% of cases of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes risk factors include:
• older age • being of certain ethnic and racial groups (African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders) family history • being overweight or obese • having prediabetes • having had gestational diabetes or a baby weighing more than 9 pounds at birth polycystic ovary syndrome • inactivity
Diabetes 101: Factors, Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention
There are roughly 30 million Americans living with diabetes. This month, educate yourself and your loved ones on known risk factors, symptoms, and how to lessen your chances of developing the disease.
More than 30 million Americans are currently living with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, which is just under 10% of the U.S. population, so chances are good you know someone who’s affected. November is American Diabetes Awareness Month, and with diabetes rates so high, it’s more important than ever to learn more about this disease.
Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes: The Basics
Type 1 and 2 diabetes both affect the body’s use of insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas that allows the body to turn glucose (sugar) into energy and store it for later. Think of insulin as the “key” that unlocks your cells for glucose, allowing the cells to take in and process sugar.
Despite the similarities, type 1 and type 2 diabetes have important differences. People with type 1 diabetes don’t produce insulin, so they need to give themselves insulin injections several times a day to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. People with type 2 diabetes have insulin resistance, which means their bodies still produce insulin, but they’re unable to use it efficiently.
Type 1 diabetes isn’t preventable it’s a chronic illness in which the body’s immune system attacks the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. Most medical experts believe genetics and environmental factors play a role in determining who will develop type 1 diabetes, but as with many autoimmune conditions, the exact causes aren’t fully understood. Most people with type 1 diabetes are diagnosed in their youth or childhood, but it’s possible to develop the condition at any point in life.
The more common type of diabetes, type 2, is preventable, although researchers are still trying to figure out why some people develop insulin resistance and others don’t. However, experts generally agree that risk factors include excess weight, sedentary lifestyle, high blood sugar levels, and a family history of type 2 diabetes. Certain minority groups, including people of African, Latino, and Native American descent, tend to develop type 2 diabetes at especially high rates, meaning these groups need to be especially conscious of lifestyle-related risk factors. Type 2 diabetes makes up about 95% of all diabetes cases, which means the vast majority of diabetes cases are preventable.
Reduce Your Chances of Developing Type 2 Diabetes With These Steps
Fortunately, you can take measures to prevent type 2 diabetes or manage the condition if you already have it. You can reduce your risk of getting type 2 diabetes or even reverse existing type 2 diabetes by:
- Exercising regularly
- Losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight Eating a balanced diet
- Quitting smoking
- Avoiding excessive alcohol consumption
Some people who have type 2 diabetes can manage their condition with diet and exercise alone, but others may need insulin therapy or medication. Only your doctor can tell you which diabetes treatments are right for you.
These tips are just a starting point. Consult your doctor about developing a diabetes-specific eating plan that addresses your unique needs and circumstances. There’s no better time to take the first step toward a healthy lifestyle than during November, which is American Diabetes Awareness Month!