By Andreas Top and Youri Verplancke, Belgium
Diabetes is a group of diseases that result in too much sugar in the blood (high blood glucose).
Diabetes is a disease in which your blood glucose, or blood sugar, levels are too high. Glucose comes from the foods you eat. Insulin is a hormone that helps t
he glucose get into your cells to give them energy. With type 1 diabetes, your body does not make insulin. With type 2 diabetes, the more common type, your body does not make or use insulin well. Without enough insulin, the glucose stays in your blood. You can also have prediabetes. This means that your blood sugar is higher than normal but not high enough to be called diabetes. Having prediabetes puts you at a higher risk of getting type 2 diabetes.
Over time, having too much glucose in your blood can cause serious problems. It can damage your eyes, kidneys, and nerves. Diabetes can also cause heart disease, stroke and even the need to remove a limb. Pregnant women can also get diabetes, called gestational diabetes.
Treatments and Therapies
There are many drugs to improve the lives of patients but research is in progress.
Prevention and Risk Factors
- Lose weight– If you are overweight, even losing 7% of your weight can make a big difference. Use the Body Mass Index (BMI) Calculator (you can find one online) to find out how much weight you need to lose.
- Eat healthy– Choose a diet with plenty of:
- Fresh vegetables– The best choices are fresh, frozen, and canned vegetables and vegetable juices without added sodium, fat, or sugar.
- Whole grains – A whole grain is the entire grain, which includes the bran, germ and endosperm>
- Fruits– Eat fruits that are fresh, frozen or canned without added sugars. Common fruits include apples, blackberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, dates, figs, grapes, oranges, pears and strawberries.
- Choose healthier options:
- Low-fat or non-fat dairy products– Choose fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk, non-fat yogurt (without added sugar), and unflavored soy milk.
- Lean meats– The best choices are cuts of meats and meat alternatives that are lower in saturated fat and caloriesMost importantly, be sure to watch portion sizes.
- Stay active– Set a goal to exercise five days a week. Thirty minutes of brisk walking or a similar activity will work. You can even break it up into 3 10-minute blocks if it is easier to fit in your day.
- Quit smoking– If you smoke, learn how you can quit. Prepare to quit by setting a date to quit, throwing away your cigarettes or asking others for help. Then choose a quitting strategy, such as going cold turkey, tapering off or working with your health care professional. If you don’t smoke, never start.
Diabetes Type 2 is a chronic condition that affects the way the body processes blood sugar (glucose).
Diabetes Type 1 is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin.
Prediabetes is a condition in which blood sugar is high, but not high enough to be type 2 diabetes.
Gestational diabetes is a form of high blood sugar affecting pregnant women.