A summary and some stunning statistics
I am a diabetic, a person who suffers from the disease called diabetes, a disease that is growing at a fast rate in North America where in the United States and Canada there are now more that 25 million people diagnosed as being diabetic and where another 6 million are estimated to have the disease and do not yet know it, probably because they have not visited a doctor of late. And it gets worse, the forecast by health authorities is that one in three children born from this moment on will end up with diabetes. And a stunning number of 57 million people have the condition called pre-diabetes, referred to in the text below. And a major problem linked to diabetes is the similarly growing incidence of obesity.
So what is diabetes?
There are three main types of diabetes and a few others less common. There is also a condition referred to as pre-diabetes – and that is a something to be watched for because, as its name suggests, it can lead to the real thing, not a happy prospect for anyone.
It is generally accepted by the medical profession that there is no cure for diabetes and the condition must be contained and controlled within a specific tolerable range by the adoption of appropriate lifestyle changes. Those include more healthy dietary approaches that are even better if accompanied by exercise and perhaps weight loss and possibly medication to assist in controlling the levels of glucose that enter the bloodstream after eating.
But some say it IS curable
However, having said that there is no cure, I must add that there are a number of quite renowned and successful medical practitioners who insist that by adopting certain dietary approaches the disease can be brought under control until it does not manifest itself and the diabetes will, in effect, not exist for the individual who follows and adheres to that approach. The gestational form of diabetes, mentioned below and not very common, is a temporary diabetic condition suffered by a small percentage of pregnant women.
The three main types of diabetes are known as type-1 diabetes, type-2 diabetes, and gestational Glucofort diabetes, of which type-2 is by far the most common, making up about 90 to 95 percent of all cases.
In the past, but less so nowadays, type-1 and type-2 were referred to respectively by the more descriptive names of juvenile diabetes and adult-onset diabetes.
Sadly, type-1 diabetes is most often a disease that develops in childhood or in young adults, although it sometimes strikes adults. It is called an autoimmune disease that occurs when the individual’s immune system fails to function properly. The immune system is the collection of biological processes in the human body that normally protects us all against disease. But instead, in the case of type-1 diabetes, the immune system actually destroys cells in an organ of the body, called the pancreas, which make insulin. The result is that from that time on, the type-1 person must take insulin each day to stay alive.
Insulin and glucose
Without insulin, the glucose produced from the food we eat and that is needed to provide energy for all the body’s cells cannot be delivered into those cells and when that happens, life cannot survive for long. Without a source of insulin, a type-1 diabetic can fall into a life-threatening coma. A parent of a diabetic child lives with that constant fear and concern that such an event might occur.
The most common form of diabetes, is a condition in which an above normal level of glucose exists in the blood. That can occur for more than just one reason but most likely due either to insufficient insulin being produced by the body or resistance by the cells of the body to the insulin that is being produced. And it may be a combination of both of those factors.
The role of insulin
Insulin is needed to join with the glucose in the bloodstream and aid in the delivery of the glucose to the trillions of cells in the body where it is needed. It is the insulin’s ability to interact with the receptors that exist on the outer membrane of the cells, in a way acting like a mediator, that enable the process to take place to completion.
To illustrate, in the process, the insulin acts like a key that opens a door to a cell allowing the glucose to enter into the cell. Without that key, without insulin, the glucose cannot be absorbed. And that would lead to a dangerous life threatening situation if not remedied promptly.