What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a metabolic disease and it is a condition where we have high blood sugar levels in our body. Through proper guidance, the disease can be well managed and under controlled. To further understand the subject of diabetes, let us understand how the pancreas and insulin work…

 

Our body converts the food we eat into sugar or glucose, which is used for the production of energy for our body’s movement, growth and function. The pancreas, an organ near the stomach produces a hormone called insulin, which is responsible to transfer glucose from the bloodstream to our cells. The cells then utilize glucose to convert the energy for our body. Just imagine that the insulin is like a key that could open the door (bloodstream) to transfer glucose to our body cells. Without insulin (key), the cells in our bodies would not be able to process the glucose and therefore have no energy for movement, growth, repair, or other functions.

 

What is Diabetes? – Understanding Insulin Resistance

If the insulin produced is ineffective in transferring the glucose to the cells, it is called insulin resistance. The people who have insulin resistance, their body does not respond well to the insulin. This has caused the pancreas to release more insulin to help the body to transfer glucose to the cells. This will exhaust the pancreas and it eventually fails to produce the required demand for insulin. The glucose in the bloodstream will then build-up, and causing a condition called high blood sugar. If the condition is not well managed, it will lead to a disease called Diabetes.

 

There are 2 types of diabetes, based on the ability of the body to produce insulin. When the pancreas cannot produce insulin or enough insulin, it is being classified as “insulin-dependent” or type 1 diabetes; when the body still produces insulin, it is called “non-insulin-dependent” or often referred to as “type 2 diabetes”.

 

Diabetes Facts and Statistics

Do you know that diabetes has turned into a global problem? The figure in Asia has soared. Research published in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) in May 2009 said:

 

  • The number of victims expected to grow from 240 million in 2007 to 380 million in 2025. More than 60% of those will be in Asia.

 

  • The disease mostly affects people between the ages of 60 and 79 in North America and Europe, in contrast, the age range in Asia is significantly younger, ranging between the ages of 20 to 59.

 

  • Women in Asia are 2-3 times more likely to develop gestational diabetes than white women. This is significant because women with gestational diabetes have a 60% increase in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

 

  • Overweight is a major factor in developing type 2 diabetes. In Asia, the disease is most likely to be affected by a sedentary lifestyle.

 

The JAMA study showed that the trends of diabetes are influenced by everything from genetic makeup and cultural differences to smoking and degrees of urbanization. But the most startling findings — which tended to vary from country to country — related to body mass and age.