University of FloridaSolutions for Your Life

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Publication #FCS8575

Healthy Living: Diabetes1

Linda B. Bobroff2

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition in which the body has difficulty either making or using the hormone insulin. Insulin controls the amount of glucose (sugar) in our blood by telling our cells how much glucose to take in from the bloodstream. When the body cannot make or use insulin properly, blood glucose levels rise. Controlling blood glucose reduces risk of health complications.

Figure 1. 

People with diabetes should regularly check their blood glucose levels, carefully select the foods in their diet, and maintain a healthy weight.



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Health Complications of High Blood Glucose

Having high blood glucose over a long period of time can result in vision loss or blindness, high blood pressure, heart disease, damage to blood vessels and nerves in your hands and feet, and kidney damage.

What are the symptoms of diabetes?

Visit your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • A need to urinate often (even at night)

  • Persistent thirst or extreme hunger

  • Unintentional weight loss

  • Dry or itchy skin

  • Skin infections

  • Slow healing of cuts

  • Numbness or tingling in feet or hands

  • Blurry vision

Can diabetes be cured?

In most diabetes cases, there is no cure. However, diabetes can be controlled with an appropriate treatment plan. Some people control their diabetes with a proper diet and regular exercise. Others may also need oral diabetes medication or insulin injections.

How do I manage my diabetes?

  • Monitor your blood glucose.

  • Be physically active every day.

  • Follow a healthy diet by eating less fat, sweets, and sodium, and choosing foods with fiber.*

  • Have your eyes, urine, blood pressure, blood glucose, and blood lipids (fats) checked regularly.

  • Have a health professional check your feet at least once a year, and check them yourself every day.

  • Have your teeth cleaned at least twice a year.

  • Do not smoke.

*If you have diabetes, a registered dietitian (RD) can design a diet plan that is right for you.

Figure 2. 

Regular physical activity contributes to both prevention and management of diabetes.



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This document is FCS8575 (la versión en español de este documento es Vida Saludable: Diabetes (FCS8575-Span)), one of a series of the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, UF/IFAS Extension. This leaflet was originally developed with funding from the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, in partnership with state, county, and local agencies. First published: March 2000. Revised January 2006, March 2010, May 2013, and May 2016. Visit the EDIS website at


Linda B. Bobroff, RD, LD/N, professor, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.