With diabetes, the body either doesn’t make enough insulin or doesn’t use it effectively, causing blood sugar levels to rise. Along with medications, people are advised to eat plenty of vegetables, whole grains, non-fat dairy, lean poultry, and fish.

There are two types of diabetes: Type 1 is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system mistakenly destroys cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps move blood sugar (or glucose) to cells where it can provide energy. When insulin is unavailable for this purpose, blood sugar levels rise and diabetes ensues. People with this type of diabetes will need to take insulin to keep their blood sugar level under control.

In type 2 diabetes, the body becomes resistant to the effects of insulin and isn’t able to use this hormone effectively, also causing a rise in blood sugar. The pancreas has to work harder to increase its production of insulin, which eventually  damages the organ.

What causes diabetes? Both genes and environmental factors play a role. Being overweight can also increase the risk of getting type 2 diabetes, because excess fat increases the body’s resistance to insulin.

How do you know you have diabetes? Increased thirst, frequent urination, and hunger are all signs of diabetes. Other diabetes symptoms include unexplained weight loss, fatigue, frequent infections, and blurred vision.

Consistently high blood sugar can damage the body’s organs over time. Untreated diabetes increases the risk for nerve damage, called diabetic neuropathy, as well as damage to the kidneys, eyes, feet, and skin. Proper treatment can control blood sugar and help prevent complications.  Some people will need to count carbohydrates, or choose foods that are low on the glycemic index, meaning they won’t cause blood sugar to spike.

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