One out of four people with type 2 diabetes don't even realize it. If you experience any of these symptoms, discuss them with your doctor - especially if you're older than 45, overweight and have a family history of the condition.
- Frequent urination
- Excessive thirst
- Extreme hunger
- Unusual weight loss
- Increased fatigue
- Blurred vision
Fact: There are two distinct kinds of diabetes, type 1 and type 2. Everyone with diabetes suffers from the same basic problem: Glucose, a form of sugar, pools in the bloodstream because the body can't convert it into energy. With type 1 -- typically diagnosed in children and young adults -- the pancreas fails to produce insulin, the hormone that helps turn sugar into energy. Those with type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, still produce insulin (sometimes a reduced amount) but the body can't process it correctly. Some people with type 2 can treat their disease with a healthy diet and exercise.
Fact: Eating too much sugar does not cause diabetes. You may rarely indulge in sweets and still develop the disease. But being overweight is a major risk factor for type 2, and it doesn't matter what you've eaten to pack on those extra pounds.
Fact: Those with diabetes should track carbohydrates, not sugar. Whether you have a slice of cake or an ear of corn, your body breaks down the carbs into glucose, which then travels through your bloodstream. So although people dealing with diabetes need to reduce the amount of sweets they eat, they also need to be mindful of starchy vegetables (like corn, white potatoes and peas) and refined grains.
Fact: People with diabetes can eat the same foods as everyone else. Everyone should eat plenty of vegetables, fruit, whole grains and lean proteins, and restrict intake of sugar, salt and fat. Having diabetes doesn't mean you need to buy special sugar-free cookies, chocolate or candy. These products often cost more and offer no nutritional value.
Fact: Diabetes is serious but treatable. Without proper care, diabetes can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and other major problems. In the United States it's the underlying cause of more deaths per year than AIDS and breast cancer combined. But by watching calorie and carb intake, maintaining a healthy weight and taking medication, many people can manage the condition with few complications.
In tomorrow's blog, I will discuss the cutting edge prevention. There are 4 basic things you can do to reduce your risk of diabetes.