Understanding diabetes and living with it

One of the common words we often hear from a middle-aged or an old person is that he or she is a diabetic patient. It is also quite common to see some persons, though fond of eating, avoid some types of foods and beverages citing diabetes as one prime reason.

What actually is diabetes?

It is a well-known fact that our body is made up of a large number of cells and the functioning of the cells is essential for the life. The cells need energy for functioning and it is for this reason that we consume food in one form or the other. The food we intake is converted into glucose and this glucose is used by the cells to get energy for effective functioning of the various parts.

If the process of transferring the glucose in the bloodstream to the cells breaks down, then the person is said to be a diabetic or suffering from Diabetes. In other words, diabetes is a condition in which the process that transfers glucose into the cells from the bloodstream breaks down. As a result of this breakdown, the cells will not get the required energy, and the glucose content in the bloodstream, not transferred to the cells, gets increased, resulting in high sugar content or glucose content in the bloodstream.

What causes a breakdown in the transfer of glucose to the cells? Before answering this question, we should understand how the glucose is transferred to the cells?

The pancreas present in the liver secretes a hormone called insulin. It is this insulin, which is responsible for transporting the glucose from the blood to the cells. Now, coming to the earlier question, if the cells are not receptive to insulin or if adequate insulin is not secreted by the pancreas, then the transfer process from blood to the cells would get affected.

Diabetes can be caused in either of the two cases and as such, diabetes is of two types – Type I diabetes and Type-II diabetes.

If insulin produced in the body is not sufficient for the total requirement by the body, then it is called as Type-II diabetes. In this type, the cells resist the message from insulin to let blood glucose inside the cells. In other words, the cells become insulin-resistant.

In Type-I diabetes, the immune system in the body destroys the very cells in the pancreas which create the hormone called insulin. If there is no production of insulin in the body, then glucose in the blood could not be transferred to the cells for energy. The glucose stays in the blood stream and the content of glucose gets increased in blood, leading to high blood sugar and might lead to further complications such as heart attack, leg amputation, stroke, blindness and kidney failure.

What is clear from this discussion about diabetes is that the level of glucose content and the effective distribution of this glucose to the cells is what determines the diabetic condition of a person. Glucose is generated in the body through the food we take. Thus, the quantity and quality of the food we take and the amount of sugar content in the food we take is what determines the level of sugar or glucose in the blood and its effective distribution to the cells.

The moment a person is told by the Doctor that he is suffering from diabetes, or that he is a diabetic patient, the first thing that comes to mind is that he needs to curb his eating and stay away from sugar. However, one need not panic or get worried of being deprived of eating the food of his choice or regulating his food intake. With an effective understanding of the food we intake, we can have an effective control over the blood sugar levels and can, in fact, lead a life of satisfaction.

Diabetes is not a killer disease and the level of glucose in the bloodstream can be effectively kept under check, with planned intake of nourished foods and beverages.

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