An American Epidemic, Explaining Diabetes and Blood Sugar Levels

Don’t become part of the epidemic

If you are overweight and have not seen a doctor in recent years, it might be a good time to do so now.
Here is why
Diabetes is a chronic non-infectious disease in which the glucose in a person’s bloodstream, which occurs quite naturally after eating food, remains in the blood at an elevated level and for an extended period of time beyond that which is normal for a healthy human being. This results in a dangerous condition that can, over a long period of time, lead to serious health complications if not treated and brought under control. Diabetes is an incurable disease.

A simple explanation of how that happens
In the body of a healthy person, after the digestion of any food eaten, the glucose that is produced from that food is passed into the bloodstream and, with the aid of a hormone produced by the body called insulin, the glucose is absorbed by the body’s cells where it is further broken down to provide energy to sustain the essential life processes.

The foods we eat, including the liquids, provide the essential nutrients needed to keep us alive. For those people who have diabetes, the supply of glucose that is produced from the foods eaten is not completely absorbed by the cells of the body that need it and too much remains in the blood stream, creating an unhealthy situation. Hence the definition that diabetes is a condition of higher than normal blood sugar levels.

In all cases, the blood sugars do require the assistance of a hormone called insulin and cannot enter the cells without it. Insulin is able to act with receptors on the cells that provide the pathway into the cells for the glucose to enter.

The Insulin is produced in the body by an organ called the pancreas. When the sugar levels in the blood begin to rise after eating food, a signal is generated that prompts the pancreas to produce the needed insulin.

In the case of diabetes this cycle of coordinated actions become impaired. Sometimes the body does not produce sufficient insulin to perform its normal task of mediating with the receptors that exist on the outer membrane of the cells, and sometimes those cell receptors have become desensitized to the insulin, making it more difficult to complete the usual series of activities. And sometimes it can be a combination of both of those occurrences.

In summary
To summarize it more briefly: When a person’s body does not make enough insulin or when the body’s ability to use the insulin that is produced becomes impaired, sugar, in the form of glucose, builds up in the blood because it is unable to get into the cells of the body. That is diabetes.

If the high blood sugar levels of diabetes persist, it is necessary for the person who has been diagnosed as having the disease, called Type-2 Diabetes, to adopt appropriate routines to control and manage their condition. Those routines are not difficult to follow, they mostly require a lifestyle modification, usually requiring al least some change in dietary intake, the addition of exercise if possible, and in many cases there is a need to lose weight. More accurately, the need is to reduce extra fat.

Most diabetics are substantially overweight and, as many of us know, it is not that easy to take off those fat pounds. But it is essential to do so to counter as much as possible the diabetic condition and to try to achieve blood glucose levels within a range not too far above normal and so prevent or minimize the many well-known complications of the disease.

Type-2 diabetes, described above, is the most common form of diabetes affecting approximately 90 to 95 percent of all known diabetes cases who are usually adults of age about 40 and over, although in recent years it is more frequently being diagnosed in people of far younger ages. Type-2 diabetics are also usually overweight or even obese. There are more than 18 million Americans known to have diabetes and there are an estimated additional 6 million who have the disease but are not aware of it.

Other forms of diabetes with other causes

There are two other main forms of diabetes known as Type-1 Diabetes and Gestational Diabetes. They will be described more fully elsewhere.

Type-1 Diabetes, also called insulin-dependent diabetes, is most often diagnosed in young children whose pancreas has stopped producing the hormone insulin. There is no cure for Type-1 diabetes.

Gestational Diabetes occurs in women during pregnancy and usually ends with the birth of the baby. However, having gestational diabetes does increase the risk of developing cardiovascular problems and of becoming a full type-2 diabetic later in life. There are also health risks for the baby.

Secondary Diabetes, as its name implies, results from a different already existing health condition, such as inflammation of the pancreas, or sometimes is the result of the use of medication such as diuretics or steroids.

For more information and for those recently diagnosed as diabetic, check out Diabetes, the Diagnosis and After.

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