Today’s topic is a question that many people have… what is diabetes after all? Well, diabetes is a condition that makes it hard for your body to properly process sugar. Believe it or not, sugar (which is also called glucose) is the food that fuels all living things. Every cell in your body burns sugar for energy– sugar is what allows you to think, move, and it even makes your heart beat. But too much sugar is a poison, and diabetes can cause us to have too much sugar in our blood.
So, how does that happen? And what causes diabetes in the first place?
Because our program is designed primarily for people with type 2 diabetes, which accounts for 90% of all diabetes cases, this article is going to focus on what happens there. But you should also know that there are two other kinds of diabetes– Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune disease that causes the body to attack its own insulin production system; and there is also gestational diabetes, a kind of temporary diabetes that strikes some pregnant women.
So what is Type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is chronic, progressive illness. That means that it never goes away, and it gets a little worse each day as time goes on.
To understand what happens in type 2 diabetes, you need to learn a little about how your body works. Your body turns the food you eat into sugar and dumps that sugar into your bloodstream. To move that sugar out of the blood and into the cells where it can be used for energy, your body uses a hormone called insulin.
In people with type 2 diabetes though, the body becomes resistant to insulin, which means your body doesn’t use insulin effectively. To do that job of moving sugar out of your blood stream into your cells, your body needs more and more insulin. Eventually the pancreas, which makes insulin, just wears out and without enough insulin, sugar starts building up in your blood. Too much sugar in your blood is poison for your body– that’s when you start to see the signs and symptoms of high blood sugar like being thirsty all the time and needing to go to the bathroom a lot.
So what causes this insulin resistance? We really don’t know—however, it seems like genetics and environmental factors are triggers. We do know that it runs strongly in families. If one of your parents had type 2 diabetes, you have a strong chance of developing it yourself. This is called a genetic pre-disposition.
Beyond the underlying genetics that set people up for diabetes, we know that weight and age can set the process in motion. Type 2 diabetes develops most often in middle-aged and older people who are also overweight, although it’s important to note that not everyone with type 2 diabetes is overweight.
Understanding what’s happening in your body with diabetes is the first step. Now it’s time to start learning about how you can be healthy with diabetes, and one of the ways to do that is to sign up for our “Let’s Get Started” program. It’s a combination of short videos and simple action items– best of all, it will only take a couple of minutes a day. When you’ve finished our program, you will feel informed and empowered… and on your way to feeling better too! Just go to our website at DiabetesWhatToKnow.com and enroll.