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What is Diabetes?

Diabetes Mellitus (DM), typically referred to as diabetes, is a group of metabolic diseases in which the sufferer has high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) either because of the inability to produce sufficient insulin, meaning that glucose cannot be converted into glycogen, or the cells in their bodies do not respond to the insulin that is produced. Anyone who has this condition usually has to take oral medications or injections of insulin after meals and snacks to maintain their storage of glucose needed in emergencies.

DM has two main forms, type 1 diabetes (T1D) and type 2 diabetes (T2D). Type 2 diabetes is by far the most common, affecting 90 to 95% of the U.S. diabetes population. Some pregnant women may suffer from gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), a form of diabetes that takes place during pregnancy (especially during the third trimester). If you are a pregnant woman with GDM, it's important to keep your blood glucose under control during your pregnancy and monitor it closely at all times after you deliver. Women with GDM are at increased risk for the development of diabetes, usually type 2, after pregnancy. Obesity and other factors that promote insulin resistance appear to enhance the risk of type 2 diabetes after GDM. Offspring of women with GDM are at increased risk of obesity, glucose intolerance, and diabetes in late adolescence and young adulthood.

There is no cure for diabetes. The only thing that can be done is to keep blood glucose levels as close to normal as safely possible. Blood glucose levels fluctuate throughout the day, with the lowest level being in the morning, before the first meal of the day (fasting level). The normal fasting range is between 70 and 100 mg/dL (milligrams/deciliter). Ideally, you want your fasting blood glucose to be around 90 mg/dL. After eating a meal, blood glucose levels should not get above a range of 135-140 mg/dL. In the best possible scenario where you are eating the right foods in the right quantities your blood sugar levels would never spike and you would be below a reading of 140 after a couple hours and below a reading of 100 after 10 hours.

I've been diagnosed with diabetes. What do I do now?
People with diabetes must take responsibility for their day-to-day care. This includes monitoring blood glucose levels, dietary management, maintaining physical activity, keeping weight and stress under control and monitoring medication they take. Modifying eating habits and increasing physical activity in conjunction are the best way to get started in reducing blood sugar levels. Most people think that modifying their eating habits means having to eat boring, bland foods. This is not true. There are cookbooks out there, which offer great tasting foods that you would never know were "diabetic foods". One that is commonly recommended is The Ultimate Diabetic Cookbook. There are other cookbooks out there. Just Google "diabetic cookbooks" for other suggestions.

Prediabetes

Prediabestes is when blood glucose levels that are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. There are 79 million people in the United States who have prediabetes. Most type 2 suffers have prediabetes before developing type 2 diabetes. There is good news for prediabetics. According to the recently completed Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) study, modifying your eating habits along with a healthy exercise program could possibly keep you from developing type 2 diabetes. You may even be able to return your blood glucose levels to the normal range. Just 30 minutes a day of moderate physical activity, coupled with a 5-10% reduction in body weight, produced a 58% reduction in diabetes.

Living With Diabetes

For millions of Americans, learning about their diabetes is the first step toward feeling better and living a longer, healthier life. Living with diabetes presents unique challenges and your diagnoses affects everyone in your family. Here are some resources to help you learn more about diabetes and how to help you get started toward improved health and wellbeing:

These are just a few resources on living with diabetes. For more information, Google "living with diabetes". You can also Google about your specific type of diabetes (e.g., "living with type 1 diabetes", "living with type 2 diabetes", etc.). There are plenty of resources out there that show how it is possible to live a normal and healthy life, even with diabetes.

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