What is Diabetes?

The most basic definition of diabetes is “a disease in which the body’s ability to produce or respond to the hormone insulin is impaired, resulting in abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates and elevated levels of glucose in the blood and urine.”

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps glucose from food be better absorbed into cells to be used for energy.

Blood glucose is the body’s main source of energy and comes from the food that is ingested.

Diabetes affects the insulin the body produces and its ability to absorb the glucose from the blood and transform it into energy for the body. Either the body does not produce enough insulin for the amount of glucose in the blood or the body does not produce any insulin at all.

There are different types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2, gestational, and prediabetes.

Type 1 is when the body does not make insulin. The immune system attacks and destroys the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. Insulin injections are required every day to stay alive.

Type 2 is when the body does not make or use insulin well. The body may still be able to produce insulin but the body has developed resistance against the effectiveness of the insulin and the blood glucose is not absorbed efficiently.

Gestational diabetes develops in some women during pregnancy. These women did not previously have diabetes. However, if not treated properly, it could become Type 2 diabetes.

Prediabetes occurs in people who are at serious risk of contracting Type 2 diabetes. They are showing signs of diabetes and if not taken cared of in a timely manner, will become Type 2. Most times those with prediabetes do not know they are at risk and they do not consult their doctor and change their lifestyle resulting in a confirmed diagnosis of Type 2 that may or may not be out of control.

If you do not know the signs of prediabetes, you might not know you have it until it is too late. It is very important to know what prediabetes looks like. I will do a post at a later date about the signs of prediabetes.


One of the last pictures I have of my dad, when I graduated from high school in 2012. Also one of our last family photos before he passed away.
Last family photo before my dad passed away.

Who is most likely to develop Type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes typically develops in men and women over the age of 45, there is no gender disparity. Diabetes does not always care about how old you are or what gender you identify as, it will get you if you do not take care of yourself.

It can also develop in those who have a family history of diabetes. For instance, my dad got diabetes when he was 18 years old, both my grandmas got diabetes in their older age, my dad’s sister got diabetes around the age of 20, and my cousin was born with Type 1. Diabetes is a big chunk of my family so I was not completely surprised when I was diagnosed. BUT at the same time, my younger sister does not have diabetes at all. She is a lot more active than I am but she eats way more sugar than I do.

Diabetes also develops in those who are overweight. I was obese for my height, age, and gender, so it was no surprise. My dad had been pretty hefty at 18 years old, too. Likewise, my sister is basically a muscular twig so she might evade the disease a little longer than myself.

However, do not let this give you a false sense of security. If you do not take care of yourself and watch what you eat, diabetes will get you.


How does diabetes affect your body?

Diabetes itself is just the fact that your insulin cannot do its job sufficiently for whatever reason, but diabetes can really affect your body and lead to many health problems, such as:

  • heart disease
  • stroke
  • kidney disease
  • eye problems
  • dental disease
  • nerve damage
  • foot problems

In my experience, diabetes is not a direct cause of death, but it can really screw up the body and weaken it to many other diseases and issues that can kill you. We do not know the exact cause of my dad’s death, but we know that had he not been diabetic, we could have had twenty more years with him. He died at the age of 43.


Related Content

Some Signs You Might Have Diabetes


References

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease

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