Diabetes is a chronic (long-lasting) health condition that affects how your body turns food into energy. Most of the food you eat is broken down into sugar (also called glucose) and released into your bloodstream. When your blood sugar goes up, it signals your pancreas to release insulin. Insulin acts like a key to let the blood sugar into your body’s cells for use as energy.
Type 1 diabetes is believed to be an autoimmune condition. This means your immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the beta cells in your pancreas that produce insulin. The damage is permanent. Type 2 diabetes starts as insulin resistance. This means your body can’t use insulin efficiently. That stimulates your pancreas to produce more insulin until it can no longer keep up with demand. Insulin production decreases, which leads to high blood sugar.
In the United States, 88 million adults—more than 1 in 3—have prediabetes. What’s more, more than 84% of them don’t know they have it. With prediabetes, blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. Prediabetes raises your risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. The good news is if you have prediabetes, a CDC-recognized lifestyle change program can help you take healthy steps to reverse it.
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