Anyone Can Get Diabetes: Healthy Living Choices May Help You Avoid It

Anyone can get diabetes, but healthy living choices can help us lessen the odds by a long shot.

“Diabetes Mellitus” is a term for a group of diseases that affect how the body uses blood glucose, the main energy source for the cells in your muscles and tissues. It is the body’s main source of fuel. Although they share similar names and are often confused, there are two distinct forms of diabetes.

  • Type 1 Diabetes (also known as juvenile diabetes): The immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, leaving the body with little or no insulin. Insulin is needed to convert sugar and other foods to energy. Without it, sugar builds up in the bloodstream. About 5 to 10 percent of people with diabetes have type 1, and are often diagnosed as children or young adults.         
  • Type 2 Diabetes: The more common type, in which not enough insulin is produced or the body cannot use the insulin properly. Rather than moving into your cells, sugar builds up in the bloodstream.

There is also something called “gestational diabetes.” During pregnancy, your cells become more resistant to insulin. If your pancreas does not respond by producing enough extra insulin, the result is gestational diabetes. This can cause problems for both mother and baby.

And then there’s pre-diabetes. That’s higher than normal blood glucose levels, but not quite high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. It is a clear warning sign that should be heeded. That’s when it’s time to get very serious about making some changes.

Anyone can get diabetes, and it causes more than 72,000 deaths in the United States each year. The risk of dying from diabetes is about twice that of people without diabetes of similar age.

You are at increased risk if you are overweight, live a sedentary lifestyle, have high blood cholesterol, or a family history of diabetes. Risk increases with age.

People with diabetes are at greater risk of heart attacks, strokes, blindness, impotence, and blood vessel damage.

According to the Joslin Diabetes Center, eight percent of the U.S. population — that’s 24 million people over the age of 20.

You can’t eliminate all risk of diabetes, but lifestyle choices can lessen your chances considerably.

  • Diet: Cut back on red meat, fried foods, and sweets. Don’t skimp on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Make sure you consume foods high in nutritional value but low in fats and empty calories.
  • Exercise: 30 minutes a day, at least four days a week is enough to make a difference. Choose to walk whenever possible, use stairs instead of elevators, park further away when running errands. Little changes throughout the day add up, so keep moving!
  • Education: Learn the warning signs of diabetes and what to do about them.

The Mayo Clinic lists these warning signs:

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Extreme hunger
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow-healing sores
  • Frequent infections, such as gum or skin infections and vaginal or bladder infections

Anyone can get diabetes. If you have any of these warning signs, you should contact your doctor. Earlier diagnosis means earlier treatment and making the necessary changes — and the better your chances of getting it under control and living a healthier life.

We can all can get diabetes. We can all can be proactive. Our health and wellbeing depends on it.


Take Action!

Sign the pledge to make healthy living choices in order to avoid diabetes.

Take the quiz — find out how much you really know about diabetes.

Related Reading on Healthy & Green Living

10 Spices That Heal: Cancer, Diabetes, and More

12 Common Diabetes Myths

Can a Vegan Diet Cure Diabetes?

Photo: National Institutes of Health


Dt Nc
Dt Nc2 years ago

Change your life, make a difference

Dt Nc
Dt Nc2 years ago

Better to prevent, be proactive

Dt Nc
Dt Nc2 years ago


Gysele van Santen

i wanted to sign the pledge but it's closed. then i noticed this post is from April 2010.

thanks for re-posting, good info.

Cheryl B.
Cheryl B5 years ago


Monty C.
Monty C.7 years ago

I meet diabetic people each week and I can see the toll it has taken on these people.

gail d.
gail dair7 years ago


June Higgins
June Higgins7 years ago

This is such an important article. As a nurse, I watched so many people with kidney failure, on dialysis, along with blindness and amputations. Before the 1950's type 2 diabetes did not exist. What has changed? Lifestyle, food sources and choices. This is such an educational article, especially because our youth is at risk. Type II diabetes, used to be called adult onset diabetes. It is now widespread among children. Please take care of your health and the health of your kids. This is such a life threatening disease. Thank you Ann, for bringing attention to this.

Janice P.
Janice P7 years ago

Thanks for the info. The only diabetes in my family is on my maternal grandfather's side. But, It is good to have the list of symptoms, just in case. I have printed it out and will hold on to it. Care 2 gives the most useful information.

vijayan t.
vijayan t7 years ago

Fast walking everyday keeps the diabetes away is an old saying.