What is diabetes?
Our body feeds off the fuel that flows continually throughout our bloodstream: glucose. The glucose reaches our body’s organs and muscles, thereby enabling them to function.
It is a very precise physical mechanism. After eating complex carbohydrates or simple sugars, the pancreas is signaled to manufacture the insulin hormone, which is then secreted into the bloodstream with impeccable timing. The insulin allows the glucose (the most basic carbohydrate) in the bloodstream to enter cells and provide organs or muscles with the energy they need.
Diabetes is a condition that impairs the pancreas’ ability to secrete enough insulin into the bloodstream or to secrete insulin at the right timing. Furthermore, the mechanism for delivering sugar to the cells becomes dysfunctional as well. As a result, insulin builds up in the bloodstream and causes additional metabolic disruptions.
There is a difference between type 1 diabetes, in which the pancreas does not produce insulin and which typically appears among people under the age of 50, and type 2 diabetes, which we will discuss here. Previously, type 2 diabetes appeared primarily among the older population. However, in recent decades, it has appeared in every age group.
In recent years it has become increasingly clear that the best way to treat the epidemic is to prevent it. It is easy to diagnose populations that are at high risk of diabetes because they suffer from a condition known as “prediabetes”. The diagnosis involves a simple blood test. Glucose levels during a fast that range between 100-126 mg percent or glucose levels hours after drinking a glucose rich drink that range between 140-190 mg percent, are indicative of a prediabetic condition. Anyone diagnosed with this condition has a 50% chance of developing diabetes within 10 years following the discovery.
Advanced stages of diabetes cause a drastic deterioration in one’s quality of life. Diabetes damages eyesight to the point of blindness. It weakens the blood vessels leading to the arms and legs to the point of harming one’s mobility and requiring leg amputations. It harms blood vessels that lead to the heart, which can then lead to heart disease. It is also known to cause kidney failure and impotence.