What is Diabetes?

what is diabetesWhat is diabetes?

Diabetes Mellitus, also simply known as diabetes, is classed as a chronic disease or disorder of the metabolism. It is characterized by abnormally high levels of glucose in the blood.

Metabolism refers to the way our bodies digest and use food for energy, cell maintenance and growth.

Much of the food that is processed through our bodies is broken down by our digestive juices into a form of sugar called glucose. Glucose is a primary source of fuel for our bodies.

Once our food is digested, the glucose enters our bloodstream, ready to be used by the cells.

A hormone called insulin, that is produced by the pancreas, regulates the amount of glucose in the blood. Insulin needs to be present to allow our cells to absorb the glucose the body needs.

When the body is healthy, the pancreas releases the right amount of insulin when it senses digested food passing through our system, allowing the cells to take up glucose.

In a person with type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin or produces very little.

With type 2 diabetics the body may be producing enough insulin, but the cells are insulin resistant and no not absorb the insulin that is floating in the blood. This results in a condition called hyperglycemia, in which there is too much glucose in the blood.

(Look here for more information on type 1 and type 2 diabetes.)

This excess blood glucose eventually passes out of the body in urine, which is why uncontrolled diabetics can have sweet smelling urine.

What is diabetes doing to us?

The excess glucose floating around the body does much damage to the cells of our bodies, basically scratching them like a piece of broken glass. This action can lead to heart disease and other severe and possibly fatal consequences.

Diabetics are at risk for diabetic neuropathy, a loss of circulation in the limbs that has resulted in thousands of people losing toes, feet, arms and legs. The excess glucose can also lead to blindness or, if left untreated, a diabetic coma.

Unchecked and untreated, the extra stress of diabetes on the body can lead to something called diabetic ketoacidosis.

Symptoms of ketoacidosis may include nausea and vomiting, which may also lead to dehydration and serious problems with potassium levels in the blood. Diabetic ketoacidosis can lead to a diabetic coma and ultimately death.

It is essential then to get tested if you have any symptoms of diabetes at all.

These statistics on diabetes come from the American Diabetes Association:

In the USA in 2007 –
17.9 million people are diagnosed with diabetes
5.7 million people have diabetes but are undiagnosed
57 million people have pre-diabetes
186,300 (0.22%) people under 20 have diabetes
1 in every 400 to 600 under 20-year olds have Type 1 diabetes
2 million adolescents have pre-diabetes
23.5 million (10.7%) of those over 20 have diabetes
12.2 million of those over 60 have diabetes
12 million men (11.2%) have diabetes
11.5 million women (10.2%) have diabetes

Diabetes is a growing problem in North America. With our populations at an all time high in terms of weight, expanding waistlines and consumption of fast and fatty foods, it is becoming an actual epidemic.

The diabetes epidemic is certainly not just a North American problem either. It is spreading worldwide, with epidemic diagnoses of diabetes occurring in Asia, the Middle East and the Caribbean.

It is estimated that by 2025, the number of diabetics worldwide will rise to 380 million.

This is a health crisis of significant proportions.

What is diabetes? Read more about the symptoms of diabetes here.

Please Note: Before adjusting your diet in any way, please consult your own medical practitioner. The opinions expressed on this site are not meant to constitute medical advice or take the place of your medical practitioner.

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