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A healthy balanced diet and exercise is important for everyone to help manage weight, prevent chronic health issues, and to feel our best. For those living with diabetes, managing blood sugar is critical to prevent complications.

There are two types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2. Symptoms include being extremely tired, excessively thirsty or hungry, blurry vision, and the need to urinate frequently. With both diagnoses, keeping blood sugar regulated is essential to staying healthy.

In those with Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, a hormone needed to regulate the metabolic process and give the body’s cells energy. This is considered an autoimmune disease. For those who are type 2, the body does not use insulin properly and is considered a progressive disease.

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), 7 million people with diabetes are undiagnosed, and 1 in 3 are at risk. The following factors contribute to risk: age (45 and older), family history of diabetes, being overweight, lack of exercise, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol or low HDL levels (the good cholesterol). Additionally, if one is prediabetic or had gestational diabetes, which occurs during pregnancy, the chance is greater to develop type 2. If diagnosed with prediabetes, changes in lifestyle can reduce glucose levels and prevent the onset of diabetes. To assess your risk, visit

How do maintaining a healthy weight and regular exercise directly impact blood sugar levels? Obesity is a key factor contributing to type 2 diabetes as the more fat one has in their body, the more difficult for cells to process insulin. Exercise helps our bodies use glucose for energy.

A balanced diet is essential to regulating blood sugar which includes counting carbohydrates, and those with diabetes should follow the guidelines given by a doctor or nutritionist/dietician. Weight Watchers also has a program for managing type 2 diabetes and prediabetes. Additionally, the Plate Method is a great option recommended by the ADA. Using a 9-inch plate, half your plate should include non-starchy vegetables, a quarter with lean protein, and a quarter with a carbohydrate.

In addition to following a diabetic meal plan, taking medications as directed, checking blood sugar, and talking to your doctor about any changes or concerns will help to minimize potential complications.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the following are potential health problems that may arise especially when blood sugar goes uncontrolled over time. These include cardiovascular disease, nerve damage which can cause tingling, numbness, and/or a burning sensation in the fingers and toes, kidney damage, and vision or hearing loss. Another complication with older adults is an increase in fall risk which can be triggered by low blood sugar, side effects of medication(s), neuropathy (loss of feeling in one’s feet), and poor vision.

It is key to reach out to your healthcare provider or a resource in the community if you are concerned about your health as diabetes can impact people of all ages. “The rate of new cases (or incidence) of diabetes in youths younger than 20 years increased in the United States between 2002 and 2015, with a 4.8% increase per year for type 2 diabetes and a 1.9% increase per year for type 1 diabetes, researchers reported in the February 14, 2020, issue of CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For more information and facts on diabetes visit

Column is written by Laura Falt, director of business development in Connecticut. Laura welcomes the opportunity to be a resource to the community on services for older adults and is often featured in local publications.