The American Diabetic Association states that diabetes “is a group of diseases characterized by high blood glucose levels that result from defects in the body’s ability to produce and/or use insulin.” It’s important to understand that there are certain risk factors for diabetes but just because someone has it, doesn’t mean it’s their own fault for being unhealthy or overweight. There are several forms of diabetes but the one that gets the most attention is Type 2. I’d like to take a moment and explain each type, including the less common ones. Logically, it makes sense to start with Type 1.
Type 1 Diabetes is also known as juvenile diabetes because it is often (but not always) diagnosed during childhood. A Type 1 diabetic does not produce insulin. The exact causes of Type 1 diabetes are unknown, although genetics are clearly a factor. Another theory is that certain viruses may cause or make the body more susceptible to Type 1 diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes occurs when the body does one of two things: Either it doesn’t produce enough insulin, or the insulin is ignored by the body. Although genetics play a role in all forms of diabetes, a healthy lifestyle may prevent, or at the very least delay, the onset of Type 2. The following risk factors are straight from the ADA’s website:
- Over age 45
- Family history of diabetes
- Inactive lifestyle
- Unhealthy levels of cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Non-Hispanic Blacks, Hispanic/Latino Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and American Indians and Alaska Natives
- History of gestational diabetes, or giving birth to a baby weighing 9 pounds or more
Gestational Diabetes About four percent of women experience a drop in their body’s ability to regulate insulin during pregnancy. Like all of the best things in life, hormones are to blame. Gestational diabetes can be very serious so it’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions. Rest assured that most women and their babies experience normal blood-glucose levels after birth, however, those with gestational diabetes may be at greater risk for Type 2 diabetes later in life.
Living with diabetes is a struggle, but with proper exercise and nutrition, diabetics can be just as healthy as non-diabetics. Regardless of the type of diabetes you suffer from, the results are about the same. The ADA warns that over time “high blood glucose levels may hurt your eyes, kidneys, nerves or heart.” For more information about diabetes, please visit the American Diabetic Association.