Most of the food we eat is broken down into sugar. This is then released into our bloodstream as blood sugar (glucose). Our pancreas creates a hormone called insulin that allows our body’s cells to use glucose as energy. If you have diabetes, or prediabetes, your body either does not make insulin or does not use it correctly.
Primary Types of Diabetes
Prediabetes is a serious health condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. You’re at a higher risk for it if you smoke, regularly drink a lot of alcohol, are inactive and/or overweight, or you have high cholesterol levels. Prediabetes increases your risk for developing Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
The good news is that having prediabetes does not necessarily mean you will develop diabetes. Prediabetes can be reversed with the right lifestyle changes.
- Get regular checkups.
- Get 30 minutes of exercise at least five times per week.
- Stop smoking.
- Avoid excessive alcohol intake.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Focus on “healthy fats” like those found in olive oil.
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body does not produce insulin at all. People with Type 1 diabetes need insulin to survive. It is often referred to as “juvenile diabetes” and is usually diagnosed before the age of 40.
Type 2 diabetes means there is not enough insulin in the pancreas, and this leads to increased blood sugar, or glucose, in the bloodstream. Higher levels of glucose can cause serious health problems as we age. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes in people 45 and older. See the “Risk Factors” section below to learn what can cause Type 2 diabetes.
Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy. Giving birth to a baby over nine pounds can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes, and also increases your risk of gestational diabetes with subsequent pregnancies. Risk factors for gestational diabetes include age, being overweight, family history, and hypertension. However, there are other unique risk factors such as excessive weight gain during pregnancy and/or excess body fat in your midsection.