Understanding Diabetes

I recently found out that one of my friends and a cousin were diagnosed with diabetes. I also learned that both were treated for being pre-diabetic over the last few years but neither took it too seriously or at least weren’t committed to the regimen that was needed. For example, instead of losing weight they both gained weight.

Diabetes is one of the most insidious diseases.  I feel very strong, as you can tell, about doing whatever I can to prevent this disease and to help others prevent it also. Yes, it can be controlled with medication. Yes, the symptoms don’t cramp your lifestyle enough that you can’t function as you usually do.

On the other hand, over time it is devastating to your organs. A very simple way to put it is that your organs (heart, liver and kidneys especially) have to work very hard when you have diabetes and I guess, from a lay person’s view point, they wear out faster. It becomes debilitating in later years and you haven’t a chance for any kind of quality life as you age.  That doesn’t account for the years it probably cuts off your life.

I’ll write more posts on diabetes but first I want you to properly understand diabetes so I’ll explain how the body normally processes glucose.

Glucose is the main energy source, the fuel, for the cells that make up your muscles and tissues. If you have diabetes, you have too much glucose in your blood which leads to problems.

Glucose comes from the food you eat and from your liver. During digestion, glucose is absorbed into your blood stream. At the same time your pancreas also secretes insulin into the bloodstream. As the insulin circulates it is allowed to enter your cells, reducing the amount that’s left in your bloodstream. When the amount of blood glucose level drops so does the secretion of insulin from your pancreas.

Your liver stores any extra glucose, now called glycogen, just in case your cells need it later. When your insulin levels are low because you haven’t eaten in a while, your liver releases the stored glucose into the bloodstream to keep your glucose level normal.

When you have diabetes it doesn’t work like this. Instead of entering your cells, the glucose builds up in your bloodstream and some is eventually excreted in your urine. Which is why your urine is always test when you go to a physician. This happens because your pancreas isn’t producing enough insulin or your cells aren’t responding to insulin or both,

These are symptoms of prediabetes, when your blood sugar level is higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as type 2 diabetes. The medical term for this is diabetes mellitus, mellitus the Latin term meaning “honey sweet” which refers to the excess sugar in your blood and urine.

 

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