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Understanding Diabetes Complications Isn’t Complicated

By Megrette Fletcher, M.Ed., R.D., C.D.E


The best way to prevent diabetes complications is to understand why uncontrolled diabetes causes problems. Listen to this brief overview about preventing diabetes complications.

A simple explanation about what causes diabetes complications is that when excessive glucose travels through your body day after day, it begins to make tissue “sticky.” Imagine a film of sugar coating your arteries, veins, and organs. In addition, high blood pressure and abnormal lipids can damage tissues. These cause problems (called diabetes complications) that can be placed into three groups:

  1. Microvascular Disease
  2. Macrovascular Disease
  3. Impaired Immunity and Healing

Microvascular disease refers to the tiny blood vessels in your body, which are found in your eyes, kidneys, and the nerves on your feet and other parts of the body.

Macrovascular disease affects the medium and large arteries in your body, including the coronary arteries that carry blood to the heart, the cerebral arteries which carry blood to the brain, and the peripheral arteries which carry blood to the legs and feet.

Preventing-cardiovascular-complicationsImpaired immunity and healing results from elevated blood sugar, decreasing the ability to fight off infection, and impairing your ability to heal. As a result, people with diabetes may have a harder time recovering from illness like colds, the flu, and infections.

There are two pieces of good news: First, well-controlled diabetes decreases the risk of complications. And second, there are many thing you can do to prevent and detect diabetes complications. it’s not complicated!

(From Chapter 14 of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes: A Mindful Eating Program for Thriving with Prediabetes or Diabetes.)






About the author

Megrette Fletcher is a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator, author, and co-founder of The Center for Mindful Eating. Megrette is the 2013-2014 president of The Center for Mindful Eating, a non-profit, organization to assist health professionals to explore the concepts of mindful eating. She has written articles for and has been quoted about mindful eating in Diabetes Self Management, Today’s Dietitian, Today’s Social Worker, Bariatric Times, Glamour, Family Circle, The Wall Street Journal, US News and World Report, Women’s Day, and Oxygen Magazine. Megrette currently works as a diabetes educator in Dover, New Hampshire.

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