Diabetes

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Diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2

What’s the Difference?

Diabetes is a disease in which blood glucose (or sugar) levels are too high. It affects about 29.1 million people in the United States. When not treated, diabetes can lead to serious health problems such as heart disease, blindness, kidney failure and lower-extremity amputations. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.

There are two main types of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2. Only about 10% of people with diabetes have type 1. This type was formerly called “juvenile diabetes” because it most often occurs in young people. However, adults can develop type 1 as well. Currently there is no way to prevent type 1 diabetes. It develops when the insulin making cells have been damaged and have stopped making insulin OR they make too little insulin.

Type 2 Diabetes is the more common type of diabetes and accounts for 90% to 95% of all diabetes cases. The good news is that this type of diabetes can be prevented, or the development of it can be delayed by losing just a little bit of weight and exercising. Losing even 5-7% of your body weight and adding regular exercise can help a lot.

That means that if you weigh 200 pounds, losing 10 – 14 pounds can reduce your risk for diabetes. If you weigh 250 pounds, losing 12 ½ to 17 ½ pounds can make a big difference in your health.

What Causes Diabetes?

The energy our bodies need is obtained through the food we eat. The food is converted into glucose (sugar) and a hormone called Insulin helps get the glucose into the cells to be used for energy. In diabetes, insulin is either not being produced, too little is being produced or it is just not being used well. Without enough insulin, the glucose stays in the blood instead of being transported to cells where it can be used for energy. When blood glucose (sugar) remains elevated over time, serious complications such as kidney failure, limb amputations, nerve and eye problems, even death can result.

If you already have diabetes, taking your medication as prescribed, along with watching your diet and getting plenty of exercise, will go a long way to prevent complications and side effects. You don’t need to be one of the millions that struggle with the repercussions of diabetes. Take steps to eat a balanced diet, including plant-based foods, and make sure to exercise regularly. St. Luke’s also has a team of nutritionists to guide you to a healthy diet, and classes that you can take to help you better understand how to live with and manage your diabetes. For more information, click here.

Not sure what your blood sugar levels are? Or are you concerned because Diabetes runs in your family? Seeing your provider will help you find out if you are at risk. St. Luke’s physicians and endocrinologists (doctors who specialize in treating diabetes), are committed to keeping you well. If you don’t have one, Find a Doctor today!