While the exact cause of diabetes remains unknown, both genetics and environmental factors, such as obesity and lack of exercise, appear to play major roles. Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin, which is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. 

There are approximately 23.6 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes. While an estimated 17.9 million have been diagnosed with diabetes, experts estimate that 5.7 million people are unaware that they have the disease. Don't allow yourself to be a part of that startling statistic.

Signs of Diabetes

Here are some of the major signs to look out for:

  • Frequent trips to the bathroom;
  • Unquenchable thirst;
  • Losing weight without trying;
  • Weakness and fatigue;
  • Tingling or numbness in your hands, legs, or feet;
  • Blurred vision; and
  • Skin that is dry or itchy, or frequent infections, cuts, or bruises that take a long time to heal.

Lower Your Diabetes Risk

If your family has a history of diabetes, or you think you may be at risk of acquiring the illness, know that there are ways to help prevent it. Here is a list of ways to lower your risk of getting diabetes:

  • Lose extra weight.

    Moderate weight loss of 7 percent of your weight may cut diabetes risk. For someone who weighs 165 pounds, this means losing 11 or 12 pounds.
  • Reduce the amount of fat and calories in your diet.

    This should help with weight loss.
  • Skip low-carb or high-protein diets.

    These often fail in the long run.
  • Get plenty of fiber.

    Get 14 grams of dietary fiber for every 1,000 calories you eat.
  • Go for whole grains.

    Make at least half your grains whole grains.
  • Get regular physical activity.

    Aim for two and a half hours per week.