What’s the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. It’s most often diagnosed in patients under 18, but it can strike at any age. Type 1 diabetics have to use insulin. In type 2, the body becomes resistant to insulin, the hormone that helps muscles absorb and use blood sugar. Traditionally, type 2 diabetes was diagnosed in older people. But with the rise in obesity, it’s now being diagnosed at younger ages, sometimes even in children. Some traditionally thin populations like Asian-Americans are also being diagnosed. Type 2 is generally treated with changes to diet and exercise habits, as well as oral medication or insulin.

How will I know if I have diabetes?

Diabetes may cause no symptoms at all, but some signs include frequent thirst and hunger, having to pee a lot, losing weight without trying to, or if you’re exhausted or really crabby! If you suspect it, get your blood-sugar checked. A fasting blood-sugar test measures the amount of sugar in your blood after fasting for at least eight hours. Normal is below 99 mg/dL. Prediabetes is 100 to 125 if it’s above 125 they will diagnose you with actual diabetes.

Is Pre-diabetes a big deal? That sounds like I don’t have it yet!

Sadly what many doctors don’t tell you is that at a diagnosis of pre-diabetes, half of the insulin-producing cells have died already. This means that it is very important that you rest the remaining cells and encourage them to hang in there for the remaining years you have left!  It can easily be done by eating a diet much lower in carbohydrate and upping your activity.

My father has diabetes. Does that raise my risk?

Yes. Having a family member with diabetes raises your risk of developing type 1 by about 5 percent and type 2 diabetes by more than 30 percent.

I’ve read that belly fat is a diabetes risk factor. Should I worry about my muffin top?

Yes. Excess fat around your midsection is linked to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. Type 1 has nothing to do with obesity. Visceral fat wrapped around your internal organs is not good, and it increases insulin resistance (the problem in type 2 diabetes) more than fat in other parts of your body. Being overweight in general hikes up your risk of type 2 diabetes by more than 90 times. Why? Overweight bodies may just be too big for their pancreases to keep up, says researcher Dr. John Buse, director of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Diabetes Care Center.

Can diet and exercise really prevent diabetes?

Yes, exercising and eating a healthy low carbohydrate diet helps you prevent or at least delay diabetes. If you already have diabetes, doing aerobic exercise and resistance training increases insulin sensitivity which is a good thing, and encourages the muscles to burn up more blood sugar. Over the short term, it may even reduce the amount of blood-sugar-lowering medication you need to take. Long term, exercise helps lower the risk of complications like blindness and nerve and kidney damage by helping you better manage blood-sugar levels. On the diet front, a recent study found that type 2 diabetics who ate a Mediterranean diet, which is rich in fish, fruits, nuts, and olive oil, lost more weight and went longer without blood-sugar-lowering medication than those on a low-fat diet.

I‘m skinny, so I can’t get diabetes, right?

Being overweight is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes, but 20 percent of people who get it are slim.

If I had gestational diabetes that went away, should I worry?

Unfortunately, your risk of developing type 2 diabetes after gestational diabetes increases substantially — between 20 percent and 50 percent. (Gestational diabetes occurs when hormones that help a baby’s placenta develop interfere with the mother’s insulin, resulting in higher blood sugars. It occurs in about 4 percent of U.S. pregnancies each year.) Your personal odds depend upon other factors like ethnicity, genetics, and weight. Losing weight after you’ve had a baby can help limit your risk.

Can I drink alcohol?

Yes, adults with diabetes can drink alcohol using the same guidelines as the general public—an average of up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. “Research shows moderate alcohol consumption has minimal short- or long-term effects on glucose levels in people with type 1 or 2 diabetes,” says Marion Franz, RD, CDE, owner of Nutrition Concepts by Franz in Minneapolis.

Although alcoholic drinks are made from grains or fruits (starches or sugars) through the processes of fermentation and distillation, alcohol cannot be changed into glucose, she says. However, drinking more than three drinks per day over time has been shown to make glucose control a challenge. Check blood sugar regularly when drinking alcohol.

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Whether dealing with clients one-on-one or speaking at a corporate event, many  people have the same questions, so we created a FAQ page you can quickly refer to.. This area will be archived and updated frequently.Please send any questions you might have!

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Kim Minert, T. 602 527 2341  E. kim@kimminert.com

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