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Do you have diabetes?

The final word on sugar

Doctors used to tell people with diabetes to avoid all sugar. But today, people who have diabetes can substitute small portions of sweets into their diets on occasion and still keep their blood-glucose levels safe.

Sugar is a carbohydrate, and recent research shows that it’s the total number of carbohydrates consumed, not just sugar, that affects blood-glucose levels. So if you want to treat yourself to something sugary, you’ll need to reduce other carb-containing foods from a meal. For example, if you’re out to dinner, skip the pre-dinner bread and split a small dessert. Experts recommend doing this infrequently to ensure that you maintain a healthy diet. Your healthcare provider can explain how to read food nutrition labels so you can make proper substitutions.

Diabetes doesn’t seem like the kind of disease you could have without realizing it, but about 6 million Americans are in the dark about their status. Symptoms develop gradually, so many people don’t realize that there’s a problem. But untreated diabetes is dangerous—it can lead to heart disease, kidney failure, blindness, foot amputations and other complications. If you’re unsure whether you’ve got diabetes, consider these warning signs:

You may have type 1 or type 2 diabetes if:

  • you’re always thirsty or very hungry, especially if you also have unexplained weight loss
  • you constantly feel tired and irritable
  • you urinate more often than everyone else

You may have type 2 diabetes if:

  • you’re obese or overweight
  • you’ve ever been diagnosed with pre-diabetes or impaired glucose tolerance
  • your cuts and bruises take a long time to heal, or you get infections frequently
  • You can’t prevent type 1 diabetes, which develops when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin. But you can reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, or help keep it under control. How?

  • If you’re overweight, lose 5 percent to 10 percent of your body weight. That’s 10 to 20 pounds for a 200-pound person.
  • Exercise at moderate intensity for 30 minutes a day, at least five days a week.
  • Cut back on junk food and eat small portions of healthy foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and nonfat dairy products.

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