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I'm a Doctor and Here's the #1 Sign You Have Diabetes

Making healthy lifestyle changes can help prevent diabetes.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Diabetes is on the rise and nobody is really talking about it. According to the World Health Organization, "The number of people with diabetes rose from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014. Prevalence has been rising more rapidly in low- and middle-income countries than in high-income countries." Chances are you know someone with diabetes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states, "37 million Americans, or 1 in 10 people have diabetes" and describes the diabetes as "a chronic (long-lasting) health condition that affects how your body turns food into energy. Most people's bodies naturally produce the hormone insulin, which helps convert sugars from the food we eat into energy that the body can use or store for later. When you have diabetes, your body either doesn't make insulin or doesn't use its insulin well, causing your blood sugar to rise. High blood sugar levels can cause serious health problems over time. With type 1 diabetes, the body can't make insulin. If you're diagnosed with type 1, you'll need to take insulin every day to survive. With type 2 diabetes, your body doesn't use insulin well. The good news is that type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed with healthy lifestyle changes." Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with Dr. Seema Bonney, the founder and medical director of the Anti-Aging & Longevity Center of Philadelphia who explained signs of diabetes to watch out for and why cases of the disease are increasing. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Weight Gain for Type 2 Diabetes

Overweight woman in tight clothes at home is trying to fit into tight jeans.

Dr. Bonney says, "When your body is making more insulin in response to excess glucose, you become insulin resistant. One of the signs of this is weight gain, often in the abdominal area. So if you feel your clothes fitting snugger and more uncomfortable, this could be a sign. However weight loss without trying is a sign of type 1 diabetes which usually occurs earlier in life." 


Increasing Thirst

with closed eyes drinking clean mineral water close up, young woman holding glass

Dr. Bonney explains, "If you have excess glucose floating around, your kidneys are working overtime to filter and absorb excess glucose. When your kidneys ability to do this is overwhelmed, the extra glucose is urinated out which drags fluids with it, and causes you to be dehydrated. This dehydration triggers your third mechanism." 


Blurry Vision

Woman in glasses rubs her eyes, suffering from tired eyes

According to Dr. Bonney, "In a person with diabetes, fluid can move into and out of the eye due to high blood sugar levels, which causes the lens of the eye to swell. As the shape of the lens changes, blurriness results because the lens isn't able to focus light properly on the back of the eye."    


Why are Cases of Diabetes Rising?


Dr. Bonney says, "Rising rates of obesity are a major contributor here. We tend to eat on the go and treat meals as something that needs to be quickly checked off instead of being intentional about what we eat. We have more options these days as far as fast foods go – so if you're in a rush or ordering in at the office, choose salads and bowls with healthy options."  

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What Lifestyle Choices Increase the Risk of Diabetes?

Man eating pizza having a takeaway at home relaxing resting

Dr. Bonney emphasizes, "Not eating smart. Eating sugary foods, foods full of simple carbs instead of plates mostly full of vegetables is a risk factor.Another risk factor is physical inactivity.  make sure to build a plan for some type of daily exercise whether it be a brisk walk or a bike ride. Track your steps so you know where you stand. Knowledge is power." 

RELATED: The #1 Sign Your Blood Sugar is "Way Too High"


How Can Diabetes Help be Prevented?

happy woman eating a healthy salad

"Lifestyle changes are key here with diet being the largest contributor here – the foods you eat or don't eat will help you avoid developing diabetes," says Dr. Bonney. "Building a plan for fitness and making it part of your lifestyle is key. Making sure you keep an optimal BMI – incorporating both a healthy, smart diet as well as a plan for fitness keeps weight in check." 

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How Can Diabetes Affect Overall Health and Daily Life?

type 2 diabetes

"Consequences of long term diabetes include weight gain which is not only inflammatory in and out of itself, it also increases your risk of every disease process," Dr. Bonney shares. "It can also cause neuropathy where you have numbness and tingling of your extremities which cause difficulty with physical activities.It also increases risk of infection."  

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather