Diabetes affects millions of people of all ages, and millions more may have diabetes and not even know it. It is a disorder that prevents the body from properly using insulin, which is the hormone responsible for getting glucose into the cells. Glucose is the by-product of the breakdown of most food, and the body uses glucose as fuel. Instead of storing glucose in the cells, diabetics excrete it in their urine, thus depriving the body of its energy source. One symptom of diabetes is a high blood sugar level in the blood.

There are four types of diabetes – Type 1, Type 2, gestational and pre-diabetes. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body produces no insulin to very little insulin. Type 2 is the most common type and occurs when the body produces insulin, but either become resistant to it or doesn’t produce enough of it. Gestational diabetes is high blood sugar which develops when a woman is pregnant. It is usually first diagnosed during a woman’s pregnancy. Prediabetes sufferers have elevated blood sugar levels, but they are not high enough to warrant a diagnosis of diabetes.

There are some genetic factors that can lead to diabetes, but Type 2 is linked to a number of other factors, including obesity and high cholesterol. People who are at risk can prevent the onset of diabetes by eating a healthy diet and getting enough exercise.

Studies show that certain foods can help lower the risk of diabetes and heart disease. Foods with healthy fats (monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats) are key components of a good diet. These include canola oil, olive oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds. A healthy diet should also include whole grains.

There are also foods that should be avoided because they can cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels. Refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, white rice, and potatoes are among them. Sugary drinks have the same effect, and over time, can increase the risk for developing Type 2 diabetes.

Belly fat is also a risk factor for Type 2 diabetes. Therefore, weight loss is an important element of prevention. Experts recommend 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Another option is to do a more vigorous workout for 20 minutes a day, three days a week. A combination of both is also effective. Exercising doesn’t necessarily have to involve running or playing tennis – as long as it’s something enjoyable and active.

It can cause complications that can become life-threatening. Diabetes leaves the body more vulnerable to infection, foot problems, eye problems, and nerve damage. It is also a major risk factor for heart disease and strokes. Despite its seriousness, it is preventable by implementing basic lifestyle changes.