What are Type 1 & Type 2? Part 1

The word “diabetes” means high blood sugar. Type 1 and Type 2 both cause this but they do it in different ways. In fact, they are different diseases. Let me explain it by first going back to basics.

Glucose (sugar) is a product of digestion, which breaks food down into sugar that is put into the bloodstream for distribution throughout the body where it’s needed for nourishment. Despite an overabundance of sugar in the blood, the body’s cells are unable to use it. This inability causes two things to happen:
1. The body’s cells can’t use the glucose so they starve.
2. Excessive sugar in the blood causes damage to the body.

The potential complications are the same in both types. Sustained high blood glucose levels (BGLs) can weaken and clog blood vessels while also damaging the kidneys, eyes, feet, heart, nerves and skin. It may also increase the chances of Alzheimer’s disease, stroke and hearing impairment.

Let’s look a what happens. When a normal person eats, the food is digested into glucose and the bloodstream carries it to the body’s cells. When it gets there a hormone called insulin “unlocks” the cells and and allows the glucose to enter so the cells can absorb it for nourishment. The pancreas produces the right amount of insulin for the glucose in the blood in a finely tuned dance. By doing this the body automatically keeps the glucose in a narrow healthy range.

It’s an amazing system. Candy and junk food obviously contain lots of sugar. But healthy foods raise the BGL too – potato does it big time, even before you load on the fixin’s. Carbohydrates, which the body converts into glucose, are all over the place – bread, beans, fruit, pasta, corn, salad dressings and tons of other places you may not think of.

Whatever a non-diabetic person eats, their body automatically produces the right amount of insulin for it, their cells allow the insulin to work so they absorb the glucose from the blood, and the BGL is kept in balance.

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