Do You Know the Different Types of Diabetes?

There is no doubt diabetes is a huge national health issue. More than 25 million adults and children live with the disease in America and about 57 million more Americans at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Over time, if not controlled, Type 2 diabetes can cause serious health problems like heart disease, stroke and blindness.

Type 1 vs. Type 2

Type 1 diabetes is a disorder in which the body does not produce insulin, a hormone that aids in moving sugar from the blood to the cells. It was typically known as juvenile diabetes, but it is not only found in children. This type of diabetes can be due to a virus or an auto-immune disorder, in which the body does not recognize an organ as its own and attacks it. In this case the body attacks an organ known as the pancreas, where insulin is made. This type of diabetes is usually diagnosed before age 40.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the insulin that the body produces is less efficient at moving sugar out of the bloodstream.  Some sugar is moved out of the blood, just not as effectively compared to a person with normal insulin efficiency. High blood sugar is a result. Type 2 diabetes used to be thought of as the adult onset type of the disease. However, an alarming rate of children are now being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

The quick way to remember the difference is that if your body is producing any insulin, it is usually Type 2 diabetes.

One of the main reasons I became a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator is to help people. My father was a physician and he was a Type 1 diabetic. He passed away when I was 13 years old due to complications from his diabetes. He was one of the smartest men I have ever met and helped others all the time, but he didn’t take action to control his own health.

If you are diabetic or if you are at risk for diabetes, please know that there is so much you can do to live a healthy lifestyle.

Risk Factors

You may be at risk for Type 2 diabetes if you:

  • Are overweight
  • Exercise less than 3 times a week
  • Are over 45 years old
  • Have high blood pressure or high cholesterol
  • Are an African American, Latino, American Indian, Alaska Native, Asian American or Pacific Islander
  • Have a parent, brother, or sister with diabetes

You can do a lot to lower your chances of getting Type 2 diabetes by:

  • Eating healthy
  • Watching your weight
  • Being active
  • Controlling your blood pressure and cholesterol


Photo Credit: cogdogblog

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Read 6 Comments

  1. Strength training has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity in Type 2 diabetics improving their condition.

    I have a question. Should high glycemic index foods be avoided by those with Type 2 diabetes because the more they eat it the more resistant they become to it? Or is it the case that these high GI foods help there bodies to respond more properly to blood sugar levels?

    Thanks for the post, looking forward to more information!

    1. Great point about strength training, Daniel.

      In a perfect world, high glycemic index foods should be limited, but do not necessarily have to be avoided. The body does not become resistant to them the more you eat, nor does the body respond to them more properly the more you have.

      Here’s the thing with high glycemic foods:
      1. It is case by case. Everyone’s body is different.
      2. Think about your day, is this the first meal or a snack after a workout or an HS snack at the end of the night, was it a stressful day, etc.
      3. The glycemic index of a food will change depending on what foods it is eaten with or how it is prepared. For example: banana, banana split, high fiber banana muffin, fully ripe banana versus a slightly green, somewhat not ripe banana.

      Bottomline: If you are diabetic, count your carbs, make sure to include healthier complex carbs with fiber. Spread them out evenly throughout the day and eat the right amount for your body.

      I hope that helped a little bit, Daniel. Thanks so much for your comment and insight. :0)

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