If you find yourself battling diabetes, it may relieve you a little to know you are not alone – far from it. Nearly 1 in 10 Americans are currently living with diabetes. And if you don’t have diabetes yourself, chances are high that somebody you know, or possibly even love, does. Diabetes is a complex and serious condition that needs as much attention and understanding as possible to help avoid some of the preventable complications that diabetes can pose. From both a physical and emotional standpoint, diabetes can at times seem daunting and joyles! However, with the right knowledge, nutrition, and lifestyle choices, we can take much of the sweetness of life back.
What is diabetes?
In order to survive, we need energy. Glucose, or sugar, is a vital source of energy that is made accessible to our cells via a hormone called insulin. However, for people with diabetes, the pancreas does not produce enough or sometimes any insulin, and when your body is running low on insulin then cells can’t get what they need to convert blood sugars into energy, often resulting in fatigue. During low insulin periods the body will often turn to other tissues, like fat or muscle, for energy instead which can then result in in weight loss.
Type 1 diabetes is where the pancreas does not produce any insulin at all. Although Type 1 diabetes can occur at any age, it is often referred to as “juvenile” diabetes because it first appears during childhood or young adulthood. For reasons still unknown to scientists, the body’s immune system mistakenly sees insulin-producing cells as harmful and destroys them. As a result, the pancreas no longer produces the insulin needed to regulate blood sugars. This means that type 1 diabetics must perform insulin therapy on a daily basis. Insulin therapy is intensive and involves self-monitoring your blood sugar through finger prick testing to find out your current blood sugar levels, and then administering synthetic insulin through injections or insulin pumps.
Diabetes is where the pancreas still produces some insulin, but it just may not be enough. In the beginning onset of type 2 diabetes, your body may not be properly responding to insulin, a condition often referred to as “insulin resistance.” To make up for insulin resistance your pancreas attempts to produce even more insulin to make up for the deficit, but over time has a tough time keeping up with taxing rate of production needed to keep blood glucose at normal levels.
Regardless of the type of diabetes, it takes conscientious nutritional habits, regular exercise, and a healthy style of living in order to maximize diabetes management and quality of life.