What is diabetes and why should we worry about it?

Diabetes is simply high blood sugar. Diabetes is either Type 1 or Type 2.

I’ve always heard about diabetes, but never fully understood it. I put this together for everyone and tried to make it easier to understand this national epidemic.

What are blood sugar levels and how do they work with the body?
Whenever you eat something, it enters the bloodstream. If you eat sugar, it enters the bloodstream very quickly. Carbohydrates are quickly broken down to simple sugars, then enter the bloodstream. The higher the carbs and sugar in the food you eat, the higher your blood sugar level becomes.

Your pancreas is on constant watch to monitor your blood sugar levels. High blood sugar can lead to complications such as blindness, nerve damage and kidney damage (in other words, the pancreas has a really important job). If your pancreas sees that you have high blood sugar levels, it wants to fix it. So, the pancreas releases insulin. Insulin’s job is to move the sugar (glucose in this case of the form of sugar in your bloodstream) from the bloodstream to the muscle, fat and liver cells – where your body can use it as energy. Think of story this energy as a battery. It doesn’t need the energy right now, but it wants to save it for later.

More importantly, if you don’t need that energy, the body stores it as fat. The pancreas has done its job and has lowered the blood sugar level in the body.

How Blood Sugar Works

It’s also important to not that our body needs some level of sugar in our blood just to work at all times. The pancreas makes sure the blood sugar level doesn’t get too high by releasing insulin, but the liver also stores sugar for use when our blood sugar levels get low (like when we sleep).

What is Type 1 Diabetes?
AKA Juvenile Diabetes (Type 1 diabetes can occur at any age but it is most often diagnosed in children, adolescents, or young adults) means that the body does not produce enough insulin. Daily injections of insulin are needed. The exact cause of Type 1 Diabetes is unknown, but it is most likely it is an autoimmune disorder. There is no known way to avoid Type 1 Diabetes.

What is Type 2 Diabetes?
This is the most common of the Diabetes – in fact, it 90 percent of diabetics are Type 2. There are over 24 million in the US with Type 2 Diabetes. With Type 2 Diabetes, either the body does not produce enough insulin or the body becomes resistant to it.

If you are overweight, you place extra stress on your body in a variety of ways – including your body’s ability to maintain proper blood glucose levels. In fact, being overweight can cause your body to become resistant to insulin. Increased fat makes it harder for your body to use insulin the correct way.

For one of the most interesting looks at Diabetes, I recommend you read the story of the Daly Brothers. Two identical twins, one is overweight and has Type 2 Diabetes, the other is a normal weight and does not have Diabetes.  It is one of the many studies that show that Type 2 Diabetes is strongly linked by being overweight.

Who should get tested for diabetes?

  • Overweight children who have other risk factors for diabetes, starting at age 10 and repeated every 2 years
  • Overweight adults (that have a BMI greater than 25)
  • Adults over age 45, repeated every 3 years

The test is very simple – they simple draw blood after the patient fasts for 8 hours before the test and measure blood sugar levels.

Why is it important?
If left untreated, both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes can lead to the failure of large organ systems, most commonly the cardiovascular, and will eventually result in death. For starters, diabetes costs the US $218 Billionevery year.

[box type=”alert”]Most people with Type 2 Diabetes don’t know they have it.[/box] It represents about 10 percent of the total healthcare costs. Diabetics’ healthcare costs are about 2.3 times higher than those without diabetes. 79 million Americans are pre-diabetic – about 25 percent of the US population.

Deaths from diabetes keep rising and so do costs. This is one of the few diseases that can be avoided by a proper diet and exercise. With a country that is already being crippled by medical expenses, why wouldn’t we work to cut up to 10 percent of those costs and let people live a longer life?

What can you do? I’d recommend that you take a look at the 6 tips that I gave to make a big change in your life (and start those yourself). You can also read more information from the American Diabetes Association.

Why do they have to prick their finger?
When Diabetics are pricking their fingers, they are testing their blood sugar levels. The higher the blood sugar levels, the more insulin the diabetic will inject.

Comments 3

  1. Pingback: What is diabetes and why should we worry about it? | Chip Hanna – Diabetes Information

  2. Pingback: Diabetes, it’s not much fun :-{ « FabulousSpirit

  3. Pingback: DIABETIC WITH A BIG BELLY? DANGER! / Diabetes / Dr. Pinna

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