This article in the Wall Street Journal today cites some very scary statistics. Apparently twenty-three million Americans have diabetes, and one-quarter of them don’t realize it.

Some early signs of diabetes are:

  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Extreme hunger
  • Unusual weight loss
  • Increased fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Blurry vision

If you have noticed any of these symptoms, and any of these risk factors:

  • Age greater than 45 years
  • Diabetes during a previous pregnancy
  • Excess body weight (especially around the waist)
  • Family history of diabetes
  • Given birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds
  • HDL cholesterol under 35
  • High blood levels of triglycerides, a type of fat molecule (250 mg/dL or more)
  • High blood pressure (greater than or equal to 140/90 mmHg)
  • Impaired glucose tolerance
  • Low activity level
  • Poor diet

Persons from certain ethnic groups, including African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans, all have high rates of diabetes

Everyone over 45 should have their blood glucose checked at least every 3 years. Regular testing of random blood glucose should begin at a younger age, and be performed more often if you are at higher risk for diabetes. (American Diabetes Association, Medline Plus Medical Encyclopedia: Diabetes Risk Factors.)

While diabetes may be a scary disease, often it can be managed by diet and exercise.

Some basic diet tips for people with diabetes:

  • Lose weight if you are overweight
  • Exercise to promote or maintain weight loss, helps muscles become more sensitive to insulin
  • Monitor carbohydrate intake to maintain blood sugar control
  • Consume carbohydrates mostly from nutrient dense sources such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and low-fat or skim milk

Fortunately, the diabetic diet is a healthy diet for all people, so it can be followed by all members of one’s family.