DIABETES MELLITUS

Diabetes is a metabolic alteration, characterized by the increase in glucose levels in the blood (hyperglycemia), which is caused by a defect (in its entirety or partial) in the secretion or in how a hormone works: insulin. Insulin is produced in a cluster of cells in the pancreas: the islets of Langerhans.

Glucose (popularly known as sugar in the blood) rarely reaches more than 100 mg/dl on awakening (fasting blood sugar level), even after eating foods high in sugar or fat. Glucose is the principal food of our blood cells. Stability in glycaemia (or blood sugar levels) depends on an extraordinarily fine and sensitive regulation mechanism.

When someone without diabetes ingests any food, sugars in it are absorbed into the intestine and your bloodstream, which tends to increase blood sugar levels. This change is immediately detected by the cells in the pancreas which produce insulin and which respond by rapidly secreting this hormone. Similarly, insulin acts as a key that opens the doors into muscle, fat tissue and liver cells, enabling glucose entry for it to be metabolized and produce energy. This allows organs to keep functioning, thus decreasing blood-sugar levels.

This is a very quick process which prevents blood-sugar levels from increasing. In a person with diabetes, insulin production is so low that it affects the whole regulation mechanism: an increase in blood-sugar levels is not followed by a sufficient increase in insulin production, thus glucose can’t penetrate cells and continues to increase.

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Symptoms

  • Extreme fatigue and excessive hunger. As a consequence of lack of food in the cells, they do not produce energy and their functions become altered. This lack of energy is the reason why a person with poorly controlled diabetes might feel weak (asthenia). For the same reason, the cells are hungry, which leads to increased appetite (polyphagia), even after ingesting food.
  • Weight loss. Since sugars can’t be used to produce energy, your body tries to produce it using fats, which causes sugars stored in fat tissue to mobilize. This is one of the possible reasons for weight loss in people with diabetes.
  • Excessive thirst and urinating often. Kidneys, which act as a filter for glucose, find themselves unable to store it completely, so they are forced to dilute it in water. This leads to a certain level of dehydration that can be perceived by the person with diabetes as an increase in thirst (polydipsia). Water elimination makes people with poorly controlled diabetes tend to urinate more often than normal (polyuria).


An increase in blood-sugar levels, due to lack of insulin production, leads to what are known as cardinal symptoms for diabetes:

  • Polyuria (urinating often)
  • Polydipsia (excessive thirst)
  • Polyphagia (excessive hunger)
  • Weight loss
  • Asthenia (exhaustion)


Causes


  • Overweight and obesity. Excessive fat accumulation found in overweight or obese people, hinders glucose utilization and alters insulin production.
  • Lack of exercise. Lack of exercise contributes to weight gain, which hinders glucose utilization in your body. Most glucose goes to your muscles, so the lack of exercise prevents your body from using most glucose, which keeps blood sugar levels high.
  • Age. Risks for diabetes increase with age due to the fact that, as years go by, your body’s ability to produce insulin and properly use glucose coming from food decreases.
  • Genetic inheritance. People with first-degree relatives (parents or siblings) suffering from diabetes present mayor risk of diabetes since their bodies can inherit the same inability to process glucose. The body’s ability to process glucose varies from person to person.



How Can Diabetes Be Controlled?



You must be motivated to change, not only regarding basic tips but also eating and exercise habits, and realize that diabetes is NOT an obstacle to reach your goals or make your dreams come true. You’ll simply have to work to accomplish that, but this is not only applies to you but to every human being; we all have to put in extra effort to reach success.

The three key elements to control diabetes are:



Healthy diet.

The essential part of the treatment is diet because it supplies the energy your body needs to work. Let’s remember that diabetes refers to the inability to appropriately draw energy from food. We should watch for the amount and type of foods we eat.

  • Amounts: Generally, the more food you eat, the more energetic substances we ingest.
  • Type of foods: The amount of energy and nutritious substances vary according to the type of food.

In order to ingest the proper amount and type of food, it is very helpful to learn how to use the ‘Eat-well plate.’



Exercise and weight control

Medication


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