What is Diabetes?
The meaning of “diabetes mellitus” is actually derived from Greek, with the word diabetes translating as “siphon” or to pass through. The second part, mellitus, translates as honey or sweet.
As a condition, diabetes mellitus (diabetes) refers to the body not being able to make insulin at all or not being able to make sufficient insulin for the body’s needs. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, helps to clear the bloodstream of glucose as well as proteins and fats.
Glucose is a type of sugar found in the bloodstream that results from food that has been consume and acts as a type of fuel for the body. Insulin assists in helping to move glucose from the bloodstream into cells that utilize it for the creation of energy.
What Leads to Diabetes
Sometimes, there can be problems with the receptor cells or the doors that allow glucose to go inside of the cells. There can also be problems with the pancreas itself not being able to keep up with the supply of insulin. Lastly, there can be something known as insulin resistance where the system is not responding to insulin the way that it should be. Any and all of these can be going on at the same time, and that’s a reason why many people have a slightly different form of diabetes or require different types of treatment.
Importance of Blood Glucose Levels and Insulin
Blood glucose or sugar levels are important, because if the level of glucose in the blood stream becomes too high, then receptor cells can become disrupted, disturbing the creation of energy and ultimately causing these cells to perform poorly.
When our bodies have too little insulin for our needs, the liver assumes that we are hungry, because the creation of energy from the metabolism of glucose is low. In response, the liver introduces more sugar into our blood circulation. As a result, people with advanced diabetes or Type 1 diabetes could literally eat nothing all day and still have very high blood sugar levels. This points to insulin’s second role, which is to signal the liver to stop releasing glucose into the bloodstream.
Another issue with high glucose levels is that there are cells that don’t need any insulin at all to take sugar in and so when those cells are inundated with all the sugar, it builds up, and it actually damages those tissues. As a result, there can be long-term and permanent damage to the eyes and kidneys, intestines, nerves, and also the heart and the blood vessels as a direct result of having too much sugar accumulated and stuck to the specialized proteins that make up the walls and the structures within those tissues.
Is there a cure for Diabetes?
Unfortunately while there is a lot of research underway, there is presently no cure for diabetes. Much of the focus with diabetes is on individualizing treatment, with the emphasis being placed on managing blood sugar levels. With appropriate management of blood sugar levels, the risk of complications related to diabetes can be reduced substantially and diabetes can be managed quite well.