Sugar gets a lot of guff—but the truth is, you need glucose to fuel your body’s functions. It provides power for your moving muscles, your thinking brain, and your pumping heart.
However, people with diabetes have too much of a good thing. High blood glucose can harm all those same organs and systems. Keeping levels in check is key to managing the disease.
When you’re healthy, your body breaks your food down into glucose. Your liver produces some, too. The hormone insulin shuttles the sugar into your cells, where it’s used for energy.
Diabetes disturbs this process. With type 1 diabetes, you don’t make insulin at all. If you have type 2, you have too little insulin, or your body can’t use what you produce. As a result, your blood glucose levels rise.
Extra sugar sticks in your small blood vessels, stopping nourishing blood from flowing through your body. It can also damage your nerves, dampening the signals they send.
Resulting problems include:
Numbness, pain, tingling, or burning in your feet or legs
Vision problems or blindness
Heart disease and stroke
You can live well with diabetes by keeping your blood glucose under control. To do it:
Work closely with your healthcare team. Make—and keep—regular appointments. Follow your plan, including taking medicines as prescribed.
Eat a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and lean protein.
Exercise at least 2.5 hours weekly.
Check your blood glucose levels regularly. Work with your healthcare team on the tools and timing.
Managing glucose levels isn’t always easy. But it pays off, in a longer, healthier life.