Diabetes can occur in anyone. However, people who have close relatives with the disease are somewhat more likely to develop it. Other risk factors include: obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and physical inactivity. The risk of developing diabetes also increases as people grow older. People who are over 40 and overweight are more likely to develop diabetes, although the incidence of type 2 diabetes in adolescents is growing.

Diabetes is a group of metabolic diseases characterized by high blood glucose levels that result from defects in the body's ability to produce and/or use insulin. Not sure what that means? This is the place to find out more about diabetes and how we at Yes2Life can help you.

Diabetes is a condition in which your body is unable to use the glucose from the food you eat. Glucose comes from foods such as breads, cereals, pasta, rice, potatoes, fruits and vegetables. To use glucose, your body needs insulin. Insulin is made by a gland in your body called the pancreas.

Our body cells need fuel to provide energy for living, breathing, seeing, and even thinking, just as a car needs fuel to drive. Our fuel comes from the food we eat, which is digested in the stomach and flows into the blood stream as glucose, a form of sugar. To get into the body cells, this glucose needs the assistance of a hormone called Insulin. If you have diabetes glucose will increase in the bloodstream - causing one's blood glucose (sometimes referred to as blood sugar) to rise too high.

Normally a gland called the pancreas makes insulin, which carries the glucose in the blood into the cells. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas produces very little or no insulin at all. As a result, the person cannot use the glucose in the food that he or she eats and the glucose levels in the blood rise.

The vast majority of patients with type 2 diabetes initially had pre-diabetes. Their blood glucose levels were higher than normal, but not high enough to merit a diabetes diagnosis. The cells in the body are becoming resistant to insulin.

Studies have indicated that even at the pre-diabetes stage, some damage to the circulatory system and the heart may already have occurred.

People with pre-diabetes and diabetes frequently experience certain non-specific symptoms. Some diabetics have no symptoms at all and the disease is discovered as a result of a routine blood test.

Symptoms include:
  • being very thirsty
  • frequent urination
  • weight loss
  • increased hunger
  • blurry vision
  • irritability
  • tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
  • frequent skin, bladder or gum infections
  • wounds that don't heal
  • extreme unexplained fatigue

There are three types of diabetes

Type 1: Insulin dependent diabetes

Type 2: Non-insulin dependent diabetes

Gestational Diabetes

The two major types of diabetes are Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes.

The body completely stops making insulin. People with Type 1 diabetes must take daily insulin injections to survive. This form of diabetes usually develops in children or young adults, but can occur at any age.

The aim of treatment in Type 1 diabetes is to bring your blood glucose levels into the normal range, which is 4 - 6 mmol/l.

Treatment includes:
  • Healthy eating
  • Exercise
  • Insulin injections

Type 2 (also called adult-onset or non insulin-dependent) diabetes results when the body doesn't produce enough insulin or is unable to use insulin properly (insulin resistance). This form of diabetes usually occurs in people who are over 40, overweight, and have a family history of diabetes, although today it is increasingly occurring in younger people, particularly adolescents.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes, yet we still do not understand it completely. Recent research does suggest, however, that there are some things one can do to prevent this form of diabetes. Studies show that lifestyle changes can prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes in those adults who are at high risk of getting the disease. Modest weight loss (5-10% of body weight) and modest physical activity (20 minutes a day) are recommended goals.

If you, or someone close to you, has just been diagnosed with type 1 or 2 diabetes, you may find it difficult to accept and feel very upset and frightened or angry. This is completely normal and we at Yes2Life will help you beat diabetes.

The good news is that having Type 1 or 2 diabetes does not mean that you have to stop doing things that you enjoy. Use the Yes2life website to learn as much as you can about your diabetes. The more you learn, the less fear you will have. Some people believe type 2 diabetes is not as serious as type 1 and because type 2 may not require taking insulin. For this reason, they may treat it lightly, ignore dietary suggestions, and believe that their illness is not serious. This isn't true and type 2 diabetes must be taken seriously.

The three main categories of treatment are diet, exercise and medication. In type 2 diabetes, diet and exercise alone are often all that is necessary to bring blood glucose down to manageable levels. Sometimes oral medication is necessary. Oral hypoglycemic agents help the body metabolise the glucose obtained from food. These drugs are not insulin, but they do stimulate insulin-producing cells to secrete more insulin, and they help overcome insulin resistance. The most important thing to remember is that tablets are used only as an addition to diet and exercise, never in place of them. Diet and exercise remain the mainstay of treatment. Controlling blood cholesterol and blood pressure are also important components of treatment.

This type affects females during pregnancy. Some women have very high levels of glucose in their blood, and their bodies are unable to produce enough insulin to transport all of the glucose into their cells, resulting in progressively rising levels of glucose.

Diagnosis of gestational diabetes is made during pregnancy. The majority of gestational diabetes patients can control their diabetes with exercise and diet. Between 10% to 20% of them will need to take some kind of blood-glucose-controlling medications. Undiagnosed or uncontrolled gestational diabetes can raise the risk of complications during childbirth.

Scientists from the National Institutes of Health and Harvard University found that women whose diets before pregnancy, were high in animal fat and cholesterol, had a higher risk for gestational diabetes, compared to their counterparts whose diets were low in cholesterol and animal fats.