What is diabetes?

What is diabetes?

So before my diagnosis I had a little understanding of what diabetes is and its effects, but I suffered from many of the misconceptions that abound concerning the condition. 

There are two types of diabetes, helpfully called type 1 and type 2. 

In type 1 diabetes, your body does not produce insulin, usually not at all but in some cases, only in very small amounts, insufficient for the body’s needs. 

So briefly, what is insulin and what does it do? In the simplest of terms, insulin acts like a key to your body’s cells, unlocking them so that glucose, the main form of energy in the body can be utilised by the cells. 

No insulin means no glucose absorption, meaning a high blood suger level, possibly leading to a hyperglycaemic attack. (The opposite of which is a hypoglycaemic attack when blood sugar levels are low.)

Type 1 diabetes is more often contracted at a young age and requires insulin injections to manage the condition. 
In type 2 diabetes, insulin is produced, but the “lock” on the cells is blocked by fats and cholesterol, so a large proportion of the insulin is rendered ineffective and once again, the cells don’t get enough energy and the glucose stays in the bloodstream. 

Type 2 diabetes is more often contracted in later life, particularly in people who are overweight or have a genetic predisposition to high cholesterol. (I was both.)

Type 2 diabetes can be managed, in most cases by switching to a low GI diet and taking more exercise. 

For more information, see Diabetes.org and if you feel symptomatic, please see a medical professional. 

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