Diabetes affects how your body uses blood glucose (blood sugar). The main types of diabetes include type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and gestational diabetes. Types one and two are chronic issues that need to be managed with the help of your doctor. However, prediabetes and gestational diabetes are potentially reversible.

Type 1 diabetes was once known as juvenile diabetes. It can develop at any age, but typically appears during childhood. Type 1 diabetes is a condition where the pancreas produces little or no insulin, a hormone that is needed to allow sugar (glucose) to enter cells to produce energy.

Type 2 diabetes is far more common than type 1. Once known as adult-onset diabetes, type 2 diabetes occurs when the body begins to resist the effects of insulin, or it doesn’t make enough of it.

Gestational diabetes occurs only during pregnancy. It can cause high blood sugar levels that are unlikely to cause problems for you, but can put the health of your unborn baby at risk. Blood sugar levels usually normalize soon after delivery.

No matter what type of diabetes you have, it means there is too much glucose in your blood. Too much glucose can lead to serious health problems.

Diabetes Symptoms

Diabetes symptoms can vary, depending on what type of diabetes a person has. With prediabetes or gestational diabetes, there may be no symptoms at all. Here’s how symptoms break down for each type of diabetes:

Type 1 diabetes:

  • Increased thirst and frequent urination
  • Extreme hunger
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision

Type 2 diabetes:

  • Increased thirst and frequent urination
  • Extreme hunger
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow-healing sores or frequent infections
  • Areas of darkened skin

Gestational diabetes:

Most women do not see noticeable symptoms of gestational diabetes. On rare occasion, it may cause excessive thirst or increased urination.

Diabetes Causes

What causes Diabetes?

Glucose is a major source of energy for your body’s cells. It comes from the food you eat and it’s produced by your liver. With the help of insulin, glucose enters your body’s cells.

When you eat, your pancreas secretes insulin into the bloodstream. Insulin lowers the amount of sugar in your bloodstream. As your blood sugar level drops, so does the secretion of insulin from the pancreas.

Type 1 Diabetes

When you have type 1 diabetes your immune system destroys the insulin-producing cells in your pancreas. This leaves you with little to no insulin. Then sugar builds up in your bloodstream instead of being transported into your cells.

Genetics may play a role in the risk of developing type 1 diabetes. Another possibility other than inheriting it from your parents is contracting a viral illness.

Type 2 Diabetes and Prediabetes

In prediabetes and type 2 diabetes your body’s cells become resistant to insulin. And like type 1 diabetes, the glucose builds up in your bloodstream instead of being transported into your cells.

Experts attribute the following risk factors to a higher chance of developing type 2 diabetes:

Weight – The more fat that you have on your body, the more your body is resistant to insulin, making diabetes more likely.

Inactivity – If you aren’t exercising, chances are you will gain weight, and become more inulin resistant. You also use glucose when you exercise.

Family History – If diabetes runs in the family, your chances of developing it are higher than average.

Age – People become more susceptible to diabetes as they get older. This is largely attributable to the fact that people tend to gain weight and become less active as they age.

Race – African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians and Asian-Americans have a heightened risk of developing diabetes. Experts aren’t clear as to why this is true.

Gestational Diabetes – If you had gestational diabetes while you were pregnant, your chances of developing type 2 diabetes later in life are higher.

Gestational diabetes

During pregnancy, the placenta produces hormones to sustain pregnancy, which also make your cells more resistant to insulin. As your placenta grows larger in the second and third trimesters, it secretes more of these hormones, which makes it harder for insulin to work.

Gestational diabetes affects about 4 percent of all pregnant women, No one is immune from gestational diabetes when they are pregnant, but some people are more susceptible than others. There are some similar risk factors to type 2 diabetes, including age, race, weight and genetics.

Diabetes Treatment

An important part of managing any type of diabetes includes eating right and staying active. Eating less animal products and sweets and more fruits and vegetables is a fundamental part of any diabetic treatment. Exercise helps keep glucose levels stable because your body uses it when you exercise. A body that gets proper exercise also needs less insulin to transport sugar to the cells. It’s recommended you get 30 minutes of aerobic exercise most days of the week, but consult your doctor before you start.

You will monitor your glucose whether you are a type 1 or type 2 diabetic. The frequency will depend on your condition. Some people may only need to check glucose levels a couple times a week, while others may have to do so a couple times a day.


Type 1 diabetes sufferers will need insulin therapy. Some people with type 2 diabetes need insulin therapy as well. Stomach acids interfere with insulin, which is why oral administration is not an option. There are various ways of injecting insulin, including syringes or insulin pens.

There are two types of insulin that may be used to manage diabetes: animal-sourced insulin and biosynthetic human insulin. Preparations of beef and pork insulin are used for managing diabetes. With the advances in biosynthetic insulin products, the demand for animal insulin has declined.

Some insulin pens and products available in the U.S. include:

  • Novolin Prefilled Pens
  • NovoPen 1.5 (made by Novo Nordisk)
  • AutoPen (made by Owen Mumford)
  • BD Pen (made by Becton Dickinson)
  • Apidra
  • Humalog
  • Lantus
  • Humulin
  • Novolin
  • Velosulin

Diabetes Alternative Treaments

Most plant foods are rich in fiber, which helps control blood glucose levels. But some lesser known foods have been found to help with type 2 diabetes, including brewer’s yeast, buckwheat, okra, fenugreek seeds and sage.


There is not enough scientific evidence to show that dietary supplements have substantial benefits for diabetes. It is very important to not replace conventional medical therapy with an unproven alternative.

  • Chromium supplementation has been researched for its effect on glucose control in people with diabetes. However, the results have been mixed.
  • Magnesium deficiency has been associated with insulin abnormalities and diabetes complications.
  • Vanadium is a trace mineral that has been shown in studies to increase insulin sensitivity. But other studies find no such benefit.
  • Polyphenols are antioxidants that can be found in tea, dark chocolate and other dietary sources. Some studies suggest that EGCG, a polyphenol found in green tea, may have a beneficial effect on insulin activity and glucose control.

Diabetes Prevention

Type 1 diabetes is not preventable, but type 2 diabetes is. The easiest way for people to prevent diabetes is to live a healthy lifestyle. Eat healthy foods, get sufficient exercise, and keep their weight in check. Weight control is a particularly effective way to prevent diabetes. That’s because even a five percent reduction in one’s weight can decrease the chances of developing diabetes.

Diabetes Resources

American Diabetes Association http://www.diabetes.org/

U.S. National Library of Medicine http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/diabetes.html