What substance is needed by every cell of your body in order to function — but, if left circulating in your bloodstream, wreaks havoc?

Glucose. This fuel source that keeps your body running also underlies type 2 diabetes. Typically, your body converts carbohydrates in the food you eat into glucose, a type of sugar that cells use for energy.

Glucose is released into the bloodstream, where the hormone insulin signals your cells to grab it. But with type 2 diabetes, either your body doesn’t produce enough insulin or your cells have become resistant to it. As a result, you have too much sugar in your blood, which can damage blood vessels and nerves throughout your body, leading to serious heart, circulatory, nerve, eye and kidney problems.

These high levels of sugar attach onto vital proteins in the body, which activates inflammation and can accelerate the aging process of the involved organs and tissues.

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Wow Fact

Research has found that lifestyle changes — losing weight and exercising more — are more effective than medication in preventing diabetes.

But you can keep diabetes in check and prevent many of its complications with good blood sugar control. This requires making smart food choices, exercising regularly, losing weight if you’re overweight (a big risk factor for diabetes), closely monitoring your blood sugar and taking medications as prescribed.

These steps will go a long way toward improving your overall health and energy. And if you’ve been diagnosed with prediabetes, these steps can help prevent full-blown diabetes.