Getting the Right Diabetes Treatment

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10 Surprising Facts About Diabetes

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Cindy Kuzma on September 12, 2021
  • senior-couple-eating-breakfast
    10 Surprising Facts About Diabetes
    It affects 25.8 million Americans, but researchers are still discovering new ways to prevent—and treat—diabetes. Read on for some surprising facts about how to ward off this disease or live well if you have it. Now more than ever before, hope is on the horizon.
  • straight face professional black male
    1. It may be reversible.
    Doctors once thought type 2 diabetes was incurable. But promising new research suggests that with major lifestyle changes, some people can go into remission for years, if not permanently. Even if healthy eating and physical activity don’t eliminate your diabetes, they can help you stay healthier.
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    2. A virus could be involved.
    In type 1 diabetes, the beta cells in your pancreas are damaged and stop producing the insulin you need to control blood glucose. Scientists believe this sometimes occurs after genetically susceptible people are exposed to a virus. Their own immune system then begins to attack their pancreas.
  • woman drinking beverage
    3. Your risk could be in your cup.
    For each sugary soda you drink per day, your risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases more than 10 percent, according to a recent study in the  American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. In contrast, each cup of coffee—regular or decaf—was linked to an 8 percent reduction in risk.
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    4. Eating mindfully can help.
    Mindful eating involves slowing down, paying attention, and distinguishing between true physical hunger and psychological desire to eat. Training in this technique helped people with type 2 diabetes lose weight and control their blood glucose in a 2012 study published in the  Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
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    5. Millions are undiagnosed.
    About 8.3 percent of the U.S. population has diabetes. But of these, an estimated 7 million people are not diagnosed—nearly one-third of all diabetics. Talk with your doctor if you or a loved one has symptoms of diabetes, including excessive thirst, frequent urination, vision changes, or tingling, numb hands and feet.
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    6. It strikes several senses.
    High blood glucose can damage vision and impair nerve function, causing a loss of sensation. And according to a recent study, older adults with diabetes are twice as likely to have hearing impairment as those without diabetes. Managing your condition can prevent these complications.
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    7. Extra pounds aren’t the only risk.
    It’s true that being overweight or obese increases your risk for type 2 diabetes. However, genetics, ethnicity, and other factors also play a role. Some heavy people never develop the condition, and some who are slim do. Talk with your doctor about your risk and ways to reduce it.
  • Ten varieties of beans and pulses
    8. Beans can protect your heart.
    Foods low on the glycemic index—meaning they don’t cause sudden blood sugar spikes—are a good bet for diabetes diets. One winner: legumes. One cup of beans, lentils, or chickpeas per day helped lower blood sugar and reduce heart disease risk in a recent study involving people with type 2 diabetes.
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    9. Sweets aren’t off-limits.
    Just because you’re diagnosed with diabetes doesn’t mean you can never have a slice of cake or scoop of ice cream again. Your diet can be adjusted to accommodate special treats. Keep your portions small and substitute sweets for other high-carb foods, such as bread or juice.
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    10. It sometimes doubles up.
    Most people with diabetes have either type 1 or type 2. But as many as 10 percent of people with type 2 diabetes have a condition called latent autoimmune diabetes in adults, or double diabetes. They have signs of both types and will eventually have to take insulin.
10 Surprising Facts About Diabetes

About The Author

  1. Gregg, EW, et al. Association of an Intensive Lifestyle Intervention With Remission of Type 2 Diabetes. JAMA. 2012;308(23):2489-96.
  2. Bhupathiraju, SN, et al. Caffeinated and caffeine-free beverages and risk of type 2 diabetes. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2013;97(1):155-66.
  3. Miller, CK, et al. Comparative Effectiveness of a Mindful Eating Intervention to a Diabetes Self-Management Intervention among Adults with Type 2 Diabetes: A Pilot Study. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2012;112(11):1835-42.
  4. Horikawa, C, et al. Diabetes and Risk of Hearing Impairment in Adults: A Meta-Analysis. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2013;98(1):51–8.
  5. Jenkins, DJ, et al. Effect of Legumes as Part of a Low Glycemic Index Diet on Glycemic Control and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Type 2 Diabetes. Archives of Internal Medicine. 2012;172(21):1653-60.
  6. Diabetes Overview. National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse.
  7. Basics about Diabetes. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  8. Diabetes Health Concerns. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  9. Diabetes Myths. American Diabetes Association.
  10. Diabetes Statistics. American Diabetes Association.
  11. Sugar and Desserts. American Diabetes Association.

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Last Review Date: 2021 Sep 12
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