ABCs of Good Health

The What, Why and How of Diabetes

The What, Why and How of Diabetes

It is estimated that over four million people in the UK have a form of diabetes. That’s a worrying figure, because whilst it might appear that because it’s so common, that diabetes isn’t all that dangerous, the havoc it plays on its sufferers can range from serious eyesight problems, to organ failure and even death.

Diabetes is serious, and in a lot of cases, preventable. Nutrition and lifestyle play an incredibly important role in preventing, and managing the symptoms of diabetes, but there are different types of this condition.

Generally speaking, what is diabetes?

People with diabetes can’t metabolise insulin properly, which results in dangerously extreme blood sugar levels. When blood sugar levels rollercoaster like they do in those with diabetes, energy levels go haywire, blood vessels become damaged, organs become damaged, and as a result, serious illnesses begin to mount up.

 

Insulin is what your body uses to convert sugar (glucose) into energy. Insulin is produced by your pancreas. In people with diabetes, insulin doesn’t do what it’s supposed to, and sugar builds up in the bloodstream. Think of it like spraying a strong cleaning product onto a surface and then walking away. Eventually, if you don’t spread that product around, it will damage the surface. That’s what happens with glucose in the bloodstream.

Type I diabetes

Type I diabetes is an autoimmune disease, which means it occurs as a result of the body turning against itself. People who have Type I diabetes don’t produce any insulin (or not enough,) which results in chronically high blood glucose levels.

 

Type I diabetes is a lifelong condition, and because it is directly linked to the pancreas, there is no cure, short of receiving a pancreas transplant (which is rare.) It is possible to manage Type I diabetes with insulin therapy, and most people with the condition can learn to regulate their blood glucose levels extremely well.

Type II diabetes

Type II diabetes usually occurs as a result of poor nutrition and lack of exercise. In people with Type II diabetes, so much glucose has entered the bloodstream over a period of years, that insulin resistance forms. The pancreas produces insulin, but it is ineffective, so glucose builds up, causing damage to blood vessels and organs.

 

Symptoms of diabetes:

  • Fatigue
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Weight loss
  • Skin problems
  • Constant thirst
  • Passing more urine (especially at night)

 

Preventing Type II diabetes:

  • Eat less refined sugar (all sugar for that matter)
  • Reduce refined carbohydrates (white bread, rice, etc.)
  • Introduce more low GI carbohydrates (brown rice, sweet potatoes)
  • Get more exercise


Sophie Angell

Sophie Angell

Writer and expert


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