10 Things People Should Know About Type 2 Diabetes

10 Things People Should Know About Type 2 Diabetes

Post Contributor: Corrie Pikul


  • 1 in 3 American adults is at risk for developing type 2 diabetes – the most common form of diabetes. According to the most recent numbers from the CDC, the rate of new cases among U.S. adults has been going down over the past decade (that’s good!) but diabetes-related complications have increased among young adults aged 18 to 44 and middle-aged adults aged 45-64 (that’s not so good) [Source: CDC, Diabetes.org]. 

  • There’s no magic-pill “diabetes diet.” This is because everyone has different nutritional needs! A registered dietician can help those with prediabetes find the right plan for them (and dietary counseling may be covered by insurance). In the meantime, the main recommendations from the American Diabetes Association are to include lots of non-starchy vegetables, minimize added sugars and refined grains, and choose whole, minimally processed foods [Source: Diabetes.org].

  • Men are more susceptible to type 2 diabetes than women. CDC data shows that 37% of men had prediabetes, compared to 29% of women. One reason may be that men tend to store more fat in the stomach area than women, especially as they age [Source: CDC]. 

  • As with so many things in life, women with diabetes have more to manage. Diabetes increases the risk of heart disease by about four times in women but only about two times in men, and women have worse outcomes after a heart attack. Women are also at higher risk of other diabetes-related complications such as blindness, kidney disease, and depression [Source: CDC].

  • There might be one more reason to try meditation. A 2020 study from The Ohio State University shows a clear link between stress hormone cortisol and higher blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. Researchers next move is a new trial to see if mindfulness practices can lower blood sugar in these patients [Source: Science Daily]. 

  • Approximately 50% of type 2 diabetes patients will need insulin therapy within ten years of diagnosis. But diabetes can be managed – without meds or surgery. The lifestyle changes recommended to slow or even halt diabetes are things that anyone can do, including exercise, healthier diet, and weight loss [Source: National Library of Medicine]. 

  • Even smaller weight loss can have helpful effects. In a 2019 study of 867 people with type 2 diabetes those who dropped at least 10% of their weight in their first year of the trial were more than twice as likely to achieve normal blood sugar levels without medication within five years [Source: Wiley Online Library]. 

  • Surprise! Carbs are not off the table for people with diabetes. Carbs do affect blood sugar, but people with diabetes can – and should – still have whole, unprocessed carbohydrates. Many people with diabetes count carbs to make managing blood sugar easier (an RD can help you figure this out). The CDC recommends that on average, people with diabetes should aim to get about half of their calories from carbs [Source: CDC].

  • Alcohol and diabetes may not mix. Drinking alcohol and taking diabetes meds (like insulin) can cause low blood sugar, and may even lead to symptoms of hypoglycemia. These signs are very similar to intoxication (slurred speech, drowsiness, confusion, dizziness) and can occur hours after your last sip. Alternatively, more than three drinks daily can lead to higher blood sugar in some folks. Talk to an RD about how best to approach alcohol. One tip they’ll probably recommend? Never drink on an empty stomach [Source: Diabetes.org].  

  • A low-glycemic diet helped some people lose weight without even trying. A recent study from the University of Toronto showed that patients with diabetes who were on a 12 week low-glycemic diet lost a pound on average. That doesn’t sound like much, but the researchers noted that there was no calorie restriction or time-restricted eating. As the Toronto Star reported: “The studies weren’t designed as weight loss schemes. That was just a happy “side effect" [Source: Toronto Star]. 
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