What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic disease that arises when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or the body cannot effectively use its insulin. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar. Elevated blood sugar or hypoglycemia is a common effect of uncontrolled diabetes. Over time, this damages many body systems, like the heart, eyes, kidneys, and nerves.

In this article, we will find out the symptoms, causes and different types of diabetes.

So let’s get started!

Insulin

To understand diabetes, we must understand insulin first. Insulin is a hormone made in your pancreas that helps your body turn glucose into energy. Glucose is a sugar found in carbohydrates (the sugars, starches and fibres found in fruits, grains, vegetables and milk products). After we eat a meal containing carbohydrates, our digestive tract breaks down the carbohydrates into glucose. As a result, our blood glucose levels rise, leading a person’s pancreas to release insulin so the sugar can be stored as energy for later use. This process results in reduced blood sugar levels, but without that pancreatic ability, as a person with diabetes, your blood sugar levels may rise dangerously high or drop too low.

Diabetes appears when your body doesn’t use insulin properly or doesn’t make enough insulin. If your body doesn’t make insulin or doesn’t make enough, you are eventually diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. On the other hand, if your body doesn’t use insulin properly, you have type 2 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that means the body’s immune system attacks cells. This is due to the autoimmune destruction of the pancreatic beta cells. The fundamental problem here is an inability to move blood glucose into the body’s cells. Without insulin, sugar accumulates in the bloodstream rather than entering the cells.

Although type 1 diabetes frequently occurs in childhood, the disease can also develop in adults. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4138592/

Symptoms

Usually, the most easily seen symptoms are excessive urination and extreme thirst. This is because the increased glucose in the blood causes the kidneys to create more urine than usual, and losing more fluid makes you dehydrated.

Commun symptoms:

Excessive hunger

Excessive thirst

Dry skin and mouth

Weight loss, with no loss of appetite, also are common.

Other common symptoms are weakness, fatigue, confusion, nausea and vomiting. These symptoms can be caused by dehydration and a condition called ketoacidosis. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ketoacidosis

Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition affecting how your body metabolizes sugar (glucose). As a result, there is a decreased cell responsiveness to insulin, and the body becomes resistant to insulin and no longer uses the hormone efficiently. Over time, this can damage cells in the pancreas and eventually, the pancreas may not be able to produce any insulin. But unlike type 1 diabetes, the pancreas is not the problem; it usually secures too much insulin to solve the problem.

Factors that may increase your risk of type 2 diabetes include:

Being overweight (however, you don’t have to be overweight to develop type 2 diabetes).

Sedentary lifestyle

A family story of type 2 diabetes

Prediabetes ( a condition in which your blood sugar level is higher than usual but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. Left untreated, prediabetes often progresses to type 2 diabetes) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prediabetes

Gestational diabetes (If you developed gestational diabetes when you were pregnant, your risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gestational_diabetes

Symptoms

Constant hunger

Lack of energy

Excessive thirst

Frequent urination

Dry mouth

Itchy skin

Type 2 diabetes can be easy to ignore, especially in the early stages when you’re feeling fine. However, it takes years of eating refined foods, putting on weight and not moving enough to develop type 2 diabetes.

Long-term effects of diabetes

The long-term effects of high blood glucose are devastating for the body and may include heart diseases, kidney, eye and nerve damage and slow healing.

Treatment for type 1 and 2 diabetes:

The primary aim of diabetes is to maintain control over blood sugar levels. It is also keeping an optimal weight and nutritional status. A healthy diet, regular exercise and stress reduction are crucial for people with type 1 and 2 diabetes. Regarding nutrition, avoiding foods that spike insulin levels, such as refined carbs, fast foods, and sugar, is KEY because how many and what type of carbohydrate foods you eat will affect how well you manage your diabetes.

Type 1 diabetics require insulin replacement with a continuous insulin pump or multiple daily injections. Also, continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) can be beneficial as part of the insulin pump or separately. With a CGM, a sensor under the skin tracks glucose levels throughout the day and night and can alert you if your levels go too high or low.

Bottom line:

Diabetes arises when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or the body cannot effectively use its insulin. Type 1 diabetes (insulin-depended) is an autoimmune disease that begins in childhood and arises when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin. Type 2 diabetes (non-insulin-dependent) is a chronic disease when the body cannot effectively use insulin due to years of eating refined foods, gaining weight and having a sedentary lifestyle.

A healthy diet, regular exercise, and stress reduction are suitable for everyone, but for people with type 1 and 2 diabetes, CRUCIAL. Eating more natural, fresh and wholesome foods and less or no refined carbohydrates can help prevent type 2 diabetes, and that’s true even if you have diabetes in your family.

Resources:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/a_to_z/type-1-diabetes-mellitus-a-to-z

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6566854/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/type-2-diabetes/symptoms-causes/syc-20351193

https://www.healthline.com/health/type-2-diabetes#treatment

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4743391/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3438860/

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