You may have heard of diabetes, but did you know that diabetes affects 1 in every 10 Americans? And 1 in 3 Americans is living with prediabetes. But what exactly is diabetes? How does it impact the body, and how can it be managed? Read on to learn more about this condition.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition that affects how the body processes sugar in the blood.

The human body breaks down the carbohydrates in food into blood sugar.

Blood sugar is then carried from the bloodstream to the cells using a hormone called insulin.

When insulin is not present or not effective to help the body remove blood sugar, it causes health complications.

Types of diabetes

Type 1 diabetes (less common)

  • The body does not produce insulin at all
  • Must be managed with insulin

Type 2 diabetes (more common)

  • The body produces insulin but does not use it properly
  • Lifestyle changes and/or medication may be required

Gestational diabetes

  • When a person who is pregnant is not able to produce or use insulin properly
  • May require diet and lifestyle changes or insulin
  • May or may not develop into postpartum diabetes


  • When a person has high blood sugar levels, but not high enough to be considered diabetes
  • Lifestyle changes can lower the risk of developing diabetes

What parts of the body does diabetes affect?

Because sugar runs in the bloodstream, diabetes can affect multiple organs and parts of the body. Diabetes impacts parts of the body that rely on the blood vessels to function well, like the eyes, kidneys, limbs and heart. Diabetes can also affect a person’s mental health. Managing blood sugar is important to keep the blood vessels healthy, which helps to keep these parts of the body functioning at their best.

Talking with a licensed therapist can help people living with diabetes feel hopeful, positive and in charge of their health.

Scheduling regular doctor’s visits and exams is another great way a person living with diabetes can stay healthy. These visits include regular appointments with a primary care physician or an endocrinologist, routine checkups including labs and annual eye exams.

In the video below, endocrinologist Dr. Tejaswi Kompala describes why it’s important for those living with diabetes to monitor their heart health together with their doctor.

How do you manage diabetes?

The good news is that with the right lifestyle, people living with diabetes can live long, healthy lives. Here is a list of six things that people living with diabetes can do to manage their diabetes.

  1. Get 150 minutes of activity weekly
  2. Follow balanced plate guidelines for meals
  3. Drink 3 liters (12 cups) of water per day
  4. Manage stress
  5. Monitor blood sugar
  6. Take meds as prescribed

Want to learn more about how to manage stress? Read our 6 expert tips for managing stress.


Updated January 3, 2021

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