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As Americans, we all love a sugary sweet. But, as we all know everything should be in moderation. Did you know that?

  • Among U.S. residents ages 65 years and older, 10.9 million, or 26.9 percent, had diabetes in 2010.
  • About 215,000 people younger than 20 years had diabetes—type 1 or type 2—in the United States in 2010.
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, nondramatic lower-limb amputations, and new cases of blindness among adults in the United States.
  • Diabetes is a major cause of heart disease and stroke.
  • Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.

What is Diabetes Mellitus?

Simply put, diabetes is basically too much glucose (or sugar) circulating in your blood stream. Insulin is a hormone produced by your pancreas. It is needed for cells to actually use the glucose as fuel, or to store excess glucose in the liver and muscle cells as something called glycogen. If your pancreas does not make enough insulin (Type 1), or the insulin it produces is not as effective as it once was (Type 2), then blood sugar levels rise. And that is the basic distinction between the type of diabetes you have.

Type 2 diabetes accounts for about 95% of the cases. Therefore, we will be talking mostly about Type 2 diabetes, It is different than type 1 in that the pancreas may still produce insulin, but the body itself becomes resistant to it. The end result is that the insulin produced is no longer as effective and blood sugar levels rise. With obesity occurring at younger and younger ages, so too are the number of younger type 2 diabetics. But this form is usually thought of as occurring at middle age or later, so it has also been called adult onset diabetes, or the more formal non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). Unfortunately, our nation is gaining weight and becoming increasingly fat in all age categories. Because of this fact, children are now being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes at an alarming rate.

What Increases My Risk of Getting Diabetes?

  • Heredity: I am sorry to say, we have one more reason to blame our parents. But, here is a question I have, that has not been clearly answered. Are we more likely to get diabetes, because or a genetic mutation that is past from parents? Or, do we simply learn habits from our parents? So, could it be nature vs. nurture?
  • Lack of Exercise: I will be talking about the important role that exercise plays in diabetes, over the next few blogs. I will even break down the physiology of exercise and diabetes. Let me just say, I think it is the #1 most important treatment for diabetes.
  • High Caloric Diet: A diet high in simple and complex carbs and sugar are especially to blame for diabetes
  • Obesity: Being obese, and most importantly for women – caring your “fat” in your abdomen makes you more likely to develop diabetes. Just think about it, where is your pancreas located — in your abdomen.

Signs You Could Be Diabetic:

  • Excessive urination – The body wants balance and when it can’t get it, it responds. When glucose levels get too high the kidneys try to flush it out.
  • Thirst – This is triggered by excessive urination.
  • Excessive fluid intake – This follows excessive thirst. From experience, it is not something you can ignore. It can go beyond all reason.
  • Tired – What is diabetes … high blood sugar? That means glucose isn’t going where it’s needed. Cells aren’t getting fuel on a whole body scale. On top of that, excessive urination interrupts sleep schedules. Uncorrected, fatigue is inevitable. The effect is quite unpleasant.
  • Unexplained weight loss – Insulin is needed to get glucose from the bloodstream into the brain, organ and tissue cells for fuel. If there is inadequate insulin, or the body rejects what it has, those cells are starving. But the body is incredibly adaptive. It tries to take what it needs from the blood first. If it can’t get it there, it goes to the stored reserves in glycogen. If that doesn’t work, it converts fat, and finally muscle tissue. Weight loss can result. This is more common in type 1 than type 2 diabetes, but I’m living proof that weight loss can occur in type 2 as well.
  • Blurred vision – The effects of diabetes are wide ranged. Even the fluid in your eyes changes from too much sugar, and that affects the way light is transmitted through the eye itself. If severe enough, it changes where incoming light gets focused on the back of the eye, and that can cause blurred vision. For me the effect was severe.But what’s interesting about all this … if the blood sugar changes are gradual, symptoms may go completely unnoticed. To put an exclamation point to that, the CDC estimates of the 23 million diabetics in the US, almost 6 million are undiagnosed.

So…. Just a little food for thought on diabetes. Please post questions or comments below. Do you have diabetes, when were you diagnosed, what are you doing to avoid diabetes, etc.? I want to hear from you.

Coming up over the next few days: Treatments, Testing and How Diabetes Can Affect You If Left Untreated.