Almost everybody has a friend or loved one with diabetes. In fact, globally there are 463 million people with diabetes. In the U.S., that number is 30,987,000.
Not everybody has symptoms, but everybody with diabetes has challenges with blood sugar levels and insulin.
For people who do have symptoms, some of the symptoms include:
- increased thirst
- increased urination
- unexplained weight loss
- extreme hunger and weakness
- itchy skin
- unpleasant breath odor
- a change in perspiration scent
Insulin transports sugar broken down from the foods we eat from the bloodstream to cells that help us function, grow and repair.
High blood sugar levels and poor insulin response reduce the blood’s ability to circulate oxygen, nutrients and other essential substances. This can cause damage to the body over time.
In the U.S., 2 million new cases of diabetes are diagnosed each year. And today over 30 million Americans have diabetes, 7.2 million of them undiagnosed. Of the 30 million, 1.25 million Americans have type 1 diabetes.
What’s Your Type?
Type 1 diabetes—also called insulin-dependent diabetes and formerly called juvenile diabetes—usually develops very quickly.
Type 1 diabetes is believed to be caused by an autoimmune reaction—this is where the body attacks itself by mistake—one that stops your body from making insulin.
It’s usually diagnosed in children, teens, and young adults. Essentially there’s no insulin production by the pancreas in this type of diabetes, so insulin therapy is usually needed throughout life.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is also known as diabetes mellitus or non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). It used to be called adult-onset or mature-onset diabetes. People who follow diets filled with sugar, saturated fats, processed foods and soda—combined with a lack of physical activity—are those who often develop this type of diabetes.
In the past, type 2 diabetes would develop in middle-aged and older adults, which is why it used to be called mature-onset or adult-onset diabetes. Today though it’s found, more and more, in children and young people.
Fortunately, type 2 diabetes can be effectively tackled with weight reduction, a healthy diet, and exercise.
How to Manage Diabetes: Getting Tested
There are a number of tests that your healthcare practitioner can order to see if you have type 2, including fasting blood sugar, glucose tolerance and HbA1c (glycated hemoglobin).
Their results will be able to let you and your practitioner know if you have pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes or type 1 diabetes. Insulin resistance is also part of pre-diabetes and diabetes.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides a helpful resource on getting tested, which you can access here.
What to eat or not eat if you have type 2 diabetes?
Limit simple sugars and increase your protein, complex carbohydrates, fiber, and unsaturated fats at each meal.
As mentioned, you’ll want to cut out most (if not all) sugars and starches, including unhealthy snack foods (like pork rinds, cheese puffs, etc.), candy, high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats (like partally hydrogenated oils), cottonseed oil, most saturated deep-fried fats, and most fast foods. You’ll also want to cut out soda and super-sweetened juices.
Start bringing in more nutrient-dense, protein-rich foods into your diet. Look for the simplest possible ingredient lists with ingredients that everybody can understand and pronounce!
Meal replacement shakes can also be great for diabetes.
You will also want to start doing more and more exercise, as your body and your schedule allow.
Some of the exercises can really just be simple choices: parking far away from the entrance; taking the stairs at work instead of the elevator, and even doing regular chores and gardening.
Is that all that’s involved in the management of diabetes?
Those are some of the topline steps we need to be focused on. In addition to that, there are many good resources, including: