Understanding Diabetes

Diabetes is a disease where the body either cannot produce insulin or does not properly use insulin. 

There are approximately 17.9 million children and adults in America diagnosed as a diabetic.

This does not include another estimated 5.7 million undiagnosed with this disease. 

The cause for this disease still remains a mystery.

However, it is believed that genetics, obesity, lack of exercise and even stress can contribute to the onset of this disease.  

Learning to understand the different types and how to manage this disease is critical for your health as a diabetic.

Types of Diabetes

There are several different types of diabetes. Each one is explained in more detail below.

Type I

Type I diabetes is generally diagnosed in children and young adults.  As a Type I diabetic your body is unable to produce insulin which is a hormone needed to convert sugar, starches and other foods into energy. 

Type 2

This is the most common form for those people who have been diagnosed as a diabetic.  As a type 2 diabetic you have an insulin deficiency combined with insulin resistance which means your body does not properly use the insulin produced. 

Those diagnosed as a Type 2 diabetic can benefit by weight loss.  Losing weight can keep your blood sugar levels lower, improves your health and you will feel better. 


Gestational diabetes occurs in pregnant women usually late in the pregnancy. 

This happens to about 4% of pregnancies in America. 

Women who are prone to this are those that may have had high blood sugar prior to becoming pregnant but were not a diabetic. 

Although experts are unsure of how this happens they have some clues. 

During a pregnancy the hormones in the placenta help the baby grow but these same hormones can block the action of insulin in the mother’s body. 


This is a condition where your blood glucose levels are high but not yet at a level to be considered a type 2 diabetic.  Almost all type 2 diabetics first had pre-diabetes first. 

If you have an elevated blood level you can take action to manage these levels and prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes. 

If you suspect you have elevated blood sugar levels you should check with your doctor.  Additionally, eating healthy, exercising and losing weight are key to helping manage your blood sugar levels.

Diabetes Symptoms

Over 5 million Americans are believed to have this disease but are yet to be diagnosed. 

This is primarily because many people do not recognize the symptoms.  Studies show that by recognizing and diagnosing this disease early can minimize the risk of diabetic complications. 

Many of the symptoms are the same for Type I and Type 2 diabetics.  In both cases, there is too much glucose in the blood and not enough in your cells. 

This can result in warning signs which include;
  • Frequent Urination
  • Constant and Unquenchable Thirst
  • Unexplained Weight Loss
  • Extreme Hunger
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Blurred or Changed Vision
  • Tingling or Numbness in Hands, Legs or Feet
Other symptoms include dry itchy skin, frequent infections or cuts and bruises that take a long time to heal. 

If you have any of these symptoms you should contact your doctor immediately so the appropriate tests can be run and the diabetes treated. 

There are several different tests that can be run to help your doctor with the proper diagnosis.

Types of Testing

There are several tests that you doctor could run to help determine if you are a diabetic or at risk for this disease.  All tests are generally confirmed by retesting on another day. 

Fasting Blood Glucose Test

This test is the most preferred test and is best done first thing in the morning.  However it can be done after more than an 8 hour fasting period. 

If the results are 126 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) this would indicate a diagnosis of diabetes pending confirmation of retesting on another day. 

If the results are 99 or lower this is considered normal and 100 to 125 are considered pre-diabetic. 

Oral Glucose Tolerance Test

This test involves drinking a beverage that contains 75 grams of glucose dissolved in water.  If after 2 hours from drinking this beverage the mg/dl is 200 this would be an indication of being diabetic. 

Results that are 139 and below are normal and 140 to 199 are considered pre-diabetes.  Again all test results are usually confirmed by running a second test on another day.

Random Test

A random test is taken at any time of the day to measure the blood sugar levels.  If the results of this test exceed 200 mg/dl along with demonstrating symptoms of diabetes this would be a good indication that you are at risk or have this disease. 

Your doctor would probably run the oral glucose test to confirm the results of the random testing

Type 2 Diabetics-Managing Blood Glucose

Because type 2 diabetics still produce insulin there are ways you can help manage blood glucose levels in addition to any medication your doctor may prescribe.

Weight Loss with Diabetes

If you are a type 2 diabetic you should consult with your doctor and nutritionist before starting any weight loss program.  

You want to lose weight the right way that will keep your blood sugar balanced during the full day.  Skipping even one meal for a diabetic can upset the balance of blood sugar, medications and insulin in your body. 

Experts recommend reducing calories by 500 per day which is a safe level for diabetics.  Reduce calories from all areas to maintain a healthy balanced meal. 

The ideal ratio would be 50% - 55% carbohydrates, 30% fat and 10 to 15% protein according to Christine Gerbstadt, MD, a spokesperson for the American Diabetic Association. Check out the diabetes food pyramid to make the right food choices.

The key for diabetics is to choose their foods wisely, especially the carbohydrates.  Be sure to read this article for more on diabetic diets.

Check out these low carb diet reviews here to see if one is right for you. There are many benefits of this type of diet.

Diabetes and Stress

Stress has been linked to the onset of diabetes that dates back to the 16th century.  Stress for a diabetic also can throw your blood sugar levels and insulin levels all out of whack. 

Most diabetics are aware of the foods they eat and the impact they can have on their blood sugar level.  But unfortunately this is not always the case with stress. 

In fact, many diabetics and those with pre-diabetes may not even be aware that stress can cause elevated blood sugar levels. 

If you are a diabetic, then you need to understand stress and diabetes in order to help manage your insulin and blood sugar levels.

Exercise for Diabetics

Getting more active has health benefits for just about everyone but can be especially beneficial for type 2 diabetics. 

Exercising helps manage type 2 by improving your body’s use of insulin, promoting weight loss and muscle strength. 

Additionally, exercise can benefit you by reducing risks of heart disease, lowers blood pressure and helps relieve stress.

Although any exercise can be beneficial, there are times where you may want to wait to exercise or select a different exercise routine if you have elevated blood glucose levels.  Read this article on exercise and diabetics to learn more.

If you are concerned that you may be diabetic, then you should consult your doctor so you can start to manage your blood glucose levels.

Additional Articles

Eating Healthy
Learn to eat healthy and lose weight to control your blood sugar levels. Eating healthy not only helps with this disease but gives you many more medical benefits.

Exercise Motivation
Don't feel like getting up and moving about? Try these motivational tips to get you started on your workouts today.

Cinnamon for Weight Loss
This tasty spice can help you lose weight and help manage your glucose levels.