Diabetes 101: The basics of type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes

I’ve said this before but diabetes is a serious worldwide epidemic and it only continues to get worse. While both forms of the disease are dangerous, it’s adult onset diabetes — or type 2– that is growing at a staggering rate. And it’s that type that can largely be prevented, controlled and in some cases reversed. It all starts with understanding the intricacies of the disease. Here’s a breakdown of the differences between types 1 and 2.

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder in which the body either cannot produce insulin, does not produce enough insulin or doesn’t react properly to insulin. There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2.

diabetes-pinType 1 diabetes, also referred to as juvenile diabetes, is the rarest form. The onset usually occurs before the age of 40 – mostly in children and young adults. With this form of diabetes, the body does not produce insulin because the immune system destroys the cells that make production possible.

Type 1 diabetics require insulin injections for the rest of their lives. There is no cure for the disease.

Type 2 diabetes, also referred to as adult-onset diabetes, is a growing epidemic in the United States and other westernized countries. Ninety percent of all diabetes cases are type 2. It is most commonly diagnosed during the adult years but is becoming more and more common in children. With this form of diabetes, the body does not produce enough insulin, does not react properly to insulin or both. Type 2 diabetes can often be treated with lifestyle changes and/or weight loss. Oral medication and/or insulin injections may also be necessary to treat type 2 diabetes.

Anyone can get type 2 diabetes, but there are certain factors that increase the risks including obesity, poor exercise habits, high blood pressure, age (over 45) and family history. According to the Mayo Clinic, not much is known about the risk factors for type 1 diabetes although family history and genetics play a role in that risk.

Symptoms for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are similar, with a few exceptions, and include:

sclale– Increased thirst
– Frequent urination
– Increased hunger
– Weight loss (especially in type 1)
– Fatigue
– Blurred vision
– Slow-healing sores and frequent infections (type 2)
– Areas of darkened skin (type 2)

Symptoms for type 2 diabetes often develop slowly. In fact, it is quite possible to have the disease for several years without knowing it. On the other hand, symptoms for type 1 diabetes come on quickly. If you experience a combination of these symptoms, you should consult with your doctor. Diabetes can be very dangerous. If not treated, it can lead to heart disease, kidney and nerve damage, eye and foot damage, skin and mouth conditions and even death.Stay tuned for more in-depth posts about living with diabetes. And don’t forget to order my book, The Diabetes Solution!

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Defining Diabetes

I’m a firm believer that knowledge is the key to healing when it comes to any disease. Diabetes is no different. My main goal for writing my book, as well as this blog, is to educate. I want you to understand exactly what diabetes is and exactly how it works. Only then can I properly motivate and encourage you to take the appropriate steps toward healing.

In simple terms, diabetes means high blood sugar. Specifically, 126 milligrams per deciliter or higher. The normal range is 64 to 99 mg/dl. Anything between those two ranges of normal and diabetic is pre-diabetes.

To be more exact, diabetes is a metabolic disorder in which the body either produces an inadequate amount of insulin or doesn’t respond properly to the insulin it produces. Insulin is essential because it facilitates cell absorption of glucose. Basically, your cells cannot absorb glucose from your bloodstream without it. Glucose comes from the food you eat and is very important because your cells use it for energy and growth.

Let’s paint a picture. Nearly all foods are broken down into glucose during the digestion process. That glucose goes into the bloodstream. A healthy, properly functioning pancreas then automatically produces enough insulin to move the glucose from the bloodstream into the cells where it can be used for energy and growth. As soon as glucose enters the cells, blood glucose levels drop.

Diabetes occurs when the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin, when the cells don’t respond to the insulin or a combination of both. No matter the cause, the result is that too much glucose remains in the bloodstream. Needless to say, any level of blood sugar above normal can cause havoc on the body. That’s why awareness is key. Everyone should know the risk factors and how to prevent high blood sugar with healthy eating and exercise. We’ll get into that in another post.

But the first step is knowing where you stand. If you haven’t had your blood sugar levels tested recently, why not set an appointment now? This is a disease that affects nearly everyone in one way or another (check out the statistics in my previous post.) You can’t wait for symptoms to appear because there are none in the beginning. That’s why I like to call diabetes a “silent killer”. It’s sneaks in quietly and starts causing lots of damage without a sign. The first symptoms don’t usually appear until you’ve already had the disease for years — by then the disease will have already begun to damage critical organs and body systems. So go get your blood tested!

If you or a loved one already have diabetes, I urge you to order my book The Diabetes Solution. I promise, it will be life-changing!

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