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Diabetes refers to a group of conditions characterized by a high level of glucose in the blood, commonly known as blood sugar. Too much blood sugar can cause serious health problems, sometimes life-threatening.
There are two types of chronic diabetic conditions: type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Pregnant women may acquire a transient form of the condition called "gestational diabetes" which usually resolves after the baby is born. Pre-diabetes is when the blood sugar level is on the border: higher than normal, but lower than in diabetics. Prediabetes may or may not progress to diabetes.
During the digestion of food, carbohydrates or carbohydrates are broken down into glucose that is transported through the bloodstream to various organs of the body. Here, it is consumed as a source of energy – in muscles for example – or stored for later use in the liver. Insulin is a hormone produced by the beta cells of the pancreas and is necessary for glucose intake by the target cells. In other words, when insulin is deficient, muscle or liver cells are unable to use or store glucose, and as a result, glucose builds up in the blood.
In healthy people, the beta cells of the pancreas produce insulin; insulin binds to its receptor in target cells and induces glucose ingestion.
In type 1 diabetes, beta cells from the pancreas are mistakenly destroyed by the immune system. The reason why this happens is unclear, but it is believed that genetic factors play an important role. Insulin production is reduced; less insulin binds to its receptor in the target cells; the less glucose is taken in the cells, the more glucose stays in the blood. Type 1 is characterized by an early onset, symptoms usually begin suddenly and before age 20. Type 1 diabetes is usually given with insulin injection. Therefore, type 1 diabetics are "insulin dependent".
In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas produces enough insulin, but something goes wrong with receptor binding or insulin signaling within the target cells. The cells do not respond to insulin and therefore can not import glucose; glucose remains in the blood. In other words, type 2 diabetics are "insulin resistant." Here again, genetic factors predispose to disease susceptibility, but lifestyle is thought to play a very important role in type 2. Typically, obesity, inactive lifestyle, and unhealthy diet are associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Type 2 is characterized by the onset of the adult; the symptoms usually appear gradually and begin after the 30 years of age. Type 2 diabetes accounts for about 80% to 90% of all diabetics. Management focuses on weight loss and includes a low-carbohydrate diet.
Video credits to Alila Medical Media YouTube channel