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What is Diabetes?

By Peter Lenkefi

Diabetes is a disorder of metabolism the way our bodies use digested food for growth and energy. Most of the food we eat is broken down into glucose, the form of sugar in the blood.

Glucose is the main source of fuel for the body. Diabetes causes glucose to back up in the bloodstream. As more and more glucose remains in the bloodstream blood glucose or blood sugar levels can rise too high.

There are two major types of diabetes. Consider the following information as it relates to both type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes.

In type 1 diabetes (also called juvenile-onset diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes), the body completely stops producing any insulin. Insulin is a hormone that enables the body to use glucose to produce energy. Sufferers of type 1 diabetes must take daily insulin injections in order to survive.

Type 1 diabetes usually develops in children or young adults; however, it can occur at any age.

Type 2 diabetes (also called adult-onset diabetes or non insulin-dependent diabetes) results when the body doesn't produce enough insulin and/or is unable to use insulin properly.

Type 2 diabetes happens when your body either cannot produce enough insulin or does not use the insulin it makes properly.

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. Many of the foods we eat such as bread, potatoes, rice, pasta and fruit are converted into sugar and give us the energy we need to maintain life. Insulin gets the sugar into the cells.

Diabetes is a life-long condition. High blood glucose levels over a long period of time can cause blindness, heart disease, kidney problems, and amputations.

Good diabetes care and management can prevent or delay the onset of these complications.

To manage your diabetes well, it is very important that you:

- Don't smoke

- Keep your blood glucose levels in your target range

- Keep your cholesterol and other blood fats in your target range

- Keep your weight in a healthy range

- Keep your blood pressure close to target level

- Take your medication as prescribed


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