Most of you might have already known by now that diabetes isn’t something that can be cured once you have been diagnosed with. It is a lifelong disease, one gives you company to the day you die. It is, however, possible to control diabetes with medication and adapting to a healthy lifestyle.
Diabetes mellitus is a common disease found in people. It is usually found in people of old age. But in recent times things have changed and now more and more young people are diagnosed with diabetes. Even the children these days aren’t safe. Especially those children who come from a diabetic family tree have higher chances of being diabetic.
Here’s a normal scenario illustrating what processes take place into your body. Understanding these processes will give you more insight into how exactly diabetes develops.
So, as you can see in the diagram above, the pancreas produces insulin hormone that helps to regulate the glucose(sugar) in the blood by transporting the glucose to the cells. And this process keeps on repeating unless the blood sugar level goes down.
Quite confusing isn’t it? Let me make things simpler for you. First, let’s talk about why does this process takes place. What do we need glucose for and how is it produced? and where?
So glucose(sugar) is the energy source of our body.
It is obtained from different types of foods we eat and the liver produces glucose by breaking down glycogen. The process is called glycogenolysis.
Glucose is then released in the bloodstream ready to be consumed. But first, it needs to get to the cells where it is stored for later use by the cells.
The glucose in the bloodstream cannot move on its own and needs help reaching the cells. This is where insulin comes into the picture.
Insulin is a hormone produced by beta cells located in the pancreas.
It is responsible for regulating blood sugar levels.
And how does it do it, you might ask. The insulin hormone produced by the pancreas helps to carry glucose in the bloodstream to the cells.
This process continues until the level of blood sugar goes down. The pancreas then stops producing insulin hormones.
The goal here is to transport glucose to the cells which are used by the cells as the source of energy. Some of it is stored for later use during exercises, between meals and mostly for sleeping at night.
So, this is the normal situation where everything is functioning as they are supposed to function.
A person is diagnosed as diabetic when the natural processes are disturbed mainly due to genetic and environmental factors and the blood sugar level in the blood increases to a point that isn’t normal at all.
If you’re wondering what types of genes cause diabetes? Or what types of environmental factors come into play? The quick answer to these questions is we do know yet.
In fact, science hasn’t been able to crack this century-old mystery to exactly what types of genes causes diabetes. The same can be said for environmental factors as well. It is however linked with the people’s lifestyle and habits.
By lifestyle and habits I mean to say the way you live your life, including the job you do, the food you eat, whether you work out or not, all of it counts. Even your body weight and body fat content matters at a certain level but let’s not be sure just yet.
I believe, we now have an overview of what diabetes is and what are its possible causes. It’s time we jump into understanding the different types of diabetes.
Diabetes Mellitus Types:
Talking about the types of diabetes, we can categorize diabetes into three different types based on how they occur in the first place. They are:
Type 1 diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes occurs only in rear cases. It occurs when the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas are attacked by the immune system. It results in fewer or no production of insulin hormones.
Type 2 diabetes:
Type 2 diabetes is the most common of all diabetes. It occurs when the body is unable to produce insulin hormones at a required quantity or when the cells become insulin resistant due to unknown reasons.
Gestational diabetes is very common in pregnant women. It occurs only when the hormones produced by the placenta, don’t know why makes the cells resistant to insulin.
Type 1 Diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin are attacked by our own immune system. The reason for this unexplained behavior is still unknown.
But the end result is, the amount of insulin that is needed to circulate glucose(sugar) in the bloodstream significantly goes down and in some cases, there is no production of insulin at all.
Lack of insulin to circulate glucose(sugar) which is the primary source of energy, results in the accumulation of glucose in the bloodstream. In other words, you become a victim of high blood sugar.
Here’s what actually happens in your body when your beta cells in the pancreas get attacked by the immune system.
Processes involved in the occurrence of type 1 diabetes:
Step 1: The immune system attacks the beta cells of the pancreas by going on a rampage.
Step 2: This results in fewer or no production of insulin hormones needed to maintain blood sugar levels in the blood.
Step 3: The liver does its duty and breaks down glycogen into glucose and releases it into the bloodstream ready to be transported to the cells.
Step 4: The fewer insulin hormones aren’t sufficient to carry all the glucose present in the bloodstream to the cells.
Step 5: The insulin hormones fail to do its job which results in more and more glucose being deposited into the bloodstream.
Step 6: A higher amount of glucose in the blood means an increased blood sugar level. It is characterized as type 1 diabetes.
You might as well say that when your immune system goes on a rampage for an unknown reason and destroys your insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, there is very limited or no insulin production at all.
The decline in insulin production level makes it impossible to circulate all the glucose produced by the liver. As a result, the glucose that was supposed to be used as a source of energy for the cells keeps getting piled up in the bloodstream.
This, in turn, makes for high sugar levels in the blood and hamper the flow of blood and oxygen in the body.
Type 2 Diabetes:
Type 2 diabetes occurs when your cells somehow become immune to insulin or the production of insulin decreases. This makes it difficult for the insulin hormone to regulate glucose(sugar) to cells. The liver, however, keeps on producing glucose for the body and it results in excessive glucose in the bloodstream yet again and you know what comes next is high blood sugar.
Here’s an outlay of the events that take place inside your body and causes type 2 diabetes.
Let me simplify the diagram for you. There are actually two scenarios involved in causing type 2 diabetes.
Scenario A: When cells become resistant to the hormone insulin that is needed to carry the glucose to the cells.
Step 1: Pancreas produces insulin and the liver produces glucose(sugar).
Step 2: Insulin and glucose are released in the bloodstream(blood highway) simultaneously.
Step 3: Insulin comes in contact with glucose and carries it to the cells across our whole body.
Step 4: The cells, however, do not want to get fed by insulin. So, they decide to resist it instead.
Step 5: The resistance from the cells is very strong thus insulin decides to quit and so the glucose has nowhere to go and decides to wander into the bloodstream yet again.
Step 6: At first, the glucose entering the bloodstream acts innocent and doesn’t hamper the blood circulation process.
Step 7: Once the time is right i.e. when the amount of glucose entering the bloodstream significantly increases, it then causes the level of sugar in the blood to rise above normal.
Step 8: With glucose going out of control, the battle is almost lost and you become a type 2 diabetes patient.
Scenario B: When the production of insulin hormones decline due to unknown reasons.
Step 1: The liver produces glucose(sugar) and the pancreas produces fewer insulin hormones.
Step 2: Both glucose and insulin are released in the bloodstream simultaneously.
Step 3: The insulin hormones carry what little glucose they possibly can and transport it to the cells which are stored by the cells for future use.
Step 4: The glucose which was not carried to the cells again start wandering within the bloodstream.
Step 5: The level of blood sugar in the blood soon rises above what is considered healthy. It is then characterized as type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common of all the three diabetes that can occur to men, women, and even children. The major factor contributing to type 2 diabetes include genetics and lifestyle.
If your family member is a type 2 diabetes patient chances are you’ll end up having type 2 diabetes as well. Or if you are obese, overweight chances are you’ll develop diabetes in the latter stage of your life.
It wouldn’t be wise to conclude that being obese or overweight will make you a type 2 diabetes patient. Since there are many cases where people who are overweight do not have type 2 diabetes whereas people who are not overweight still end up having type 2 diabetes.
Gestational diabetes is women-only diabetes and only occurs in pregnant women. It occurs in nearly 4% of all pregnancies. If you are women and reading this post, you might as well shout out that it’s not fair. And you would be right to say so because it really isn’t fair no matter how you look at it.
Talking about unfair, only women giving birth is completely unfair, to begin with. But what can be done, it is what it is.
So, gestational diabetes as I mentioned earlier is women-only diabetes, and here’s why.
- The primary reason being women are the only ones gifted with the power to give life and not men.
- Another reason is that during the time of pregnancy, a gland in women called the placenta produces hormones namely estrogen and progesterone. The estrogen hormone helps in the development of the uterus and the progesterone hormone helps in preparing the uterus in holding the baby. These hormones somehow make the cells insulin resistant.
Here’s an outlay of the events that take place inside the body of a pregnant woman that causes gestational diabetes.
Simplifying the diagram as usual and in a timely manner of the events that take place.
Step 1: At some point in time during pregnancy, the placenta produces hormones to support the pregnancy process.
Step 2: The estrogen and progesterone hormones produced by the placenta somehow tamper with the cells and make them insulin resistant.
Step 3: The beta cells in the pancreas produce insulin hormones and the liver produces glucose.
Step 4: The insulin hormones and glucose get released into the bloodstream simultaneously.
Step 5: The insulin then carries the glucose in the bloodstream to the cells.
Step 6: They cells for a barrier and do not allow the insulin to pass-through.
Step 7: The insulin hormones produced aren’t sufficient to break through the barrier and thus fail to transport glucose to the cells.
Step 8: As usual, glucose has no place to go and thus keeps piling up in the bloodstream since the liver is continuously producing glucose.
Step 9: Once the amount to glucose(sugar) entering the bloodstream reaches a certain level, it cannot be regulated by the amount of insulin produced and tampers with the blood circulation process.
Gestational diabetes may be unfair but might as well be a boon. The good thing is that once the child is born, gestational diabetes might as well get cured on its own. It all depends on how well you cope up with the changes and your lifestyle.
Each of the different types of diabetes affects different types of people. Even their causes, symptoms, precaution, and treatment are different.
Possible Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes Mellitus:
The symptoms of diabetes, in general, may vary depending upon age, sex, physical condition, and lifestyle of the person having diabetes. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes, however, show similar symptoms but are mild making them difficult to pinpoint.
As a result, millions of people suffering from diabetes of some kind do not even know that they have diabetes. And by the time they know they have diabetes, it’s already too late to cure.
So make sure you do not repeat the same mistake that most of the people do and go for a health check-up as soon as you see any of the early signs and symptoms mentioned below.
- A frequent urge to urinate even when you drink less fluid.
- An unintentional weight loss is always a warning sign and it is true for diabetes as well.
- Growing hunger without any physical exercise and workout is a sign.
- An increasing urge to drink more water might be a sign of you having diabetes.
- Feeling more fatigued or flu-like symptoms may point towards diabetes.
- Occasional blurry visions may indicate that its time you go for a health checkup.
- Having sores that take a longer time to heal might indicate something isn’t right.
- Appearing of patches of dark skins in your body is an early sign of diabetes.
- If you are a woman, you might witness additional symptoms such as urinary tract infection, yeast infection, or vaginal infection. In addition, you might also have dry and itchy skins.
- If you are a man, chances are you will experience poor muscle strength, decreased sex drive, and erectile deficit.
What Causes Diabetes mellitus?
As I have mentioned earlier in the types of diabetes, there are different causes associated with different types of diabetes.
- Type 1 diabetes, for example, is caused by our own immune system going on a rampage and destroying the cells of the pancreas that produce insulin.
- Type 2 diabetes is caused mainly due to problematic genes and environmental factors. Other causes include being obese and overweight and carrying layers of fat in the belly, etc.
- Gestational diabetes is caused by the hormones produced by the placenta during the time of pregnancy to aid in the pregnancy process that affect the cells.
Now that we are talking about what causes diabetes, I might as well list out some of the common traits seen in people with diabetes.
Diabetes Risk Factors:
It is possible that anyone can have diabetes but some people are at more risk of having diabetes than others. Here’s a list of diabetes along with their risk factors
Type 1 Diabetes Risk Factors:
- If you are someone who comes from a diabetic family tree or you are born with a problematic gene that causes diabetes, chances are you will develop type 1 diabetes.
- Exposure to viral illness may cause type 1 diabetes.
- Living in a certain geographical region may also increase the chances of having type 1 diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes Risk Factors:
- obese or overweight or carries layers of fat in the belly area.
- live a passive life and is physically inactive.
- over 45 years old.
- have unhealthy eating habits.
- having a family history of diabetes.
- having prediabetes. having polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- have gestational diabetes.
- have high cholesterol, high BP, and heart disease.
- are a descendant of African American, Asian American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Asian American, Pacific Islander descent, Hispanic or Latino.
Gestational Diabetes Risk Factors
- are over 35 years old.
- are obese or overweight.
- belong to a family where diabetes runs from generation to generation.
- previously diagnosed with gestational diabetes.
- having polycystic ovary syndrome.
If you are someone who falls under one of these categories listed above, do not panic just yet cause there are many factors that come into play in order to have diabetes.
Diabetes Mellitus Complications:
The complications of diabetes are imminent. It is a matter of time you develop complications that may be disabling and some even fatal.
Some of the possible complications due to type 1 and type 2 diabetes include:
- Cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack and stroke,
- Damaged nerve or neuropathy,
- Lost of sight or retinopathy,
- Kidney failure or nephropathy,
- Alzheimer’s disease,
- Hearing impairment,
- Skin diseases such as bacterial and fungal infections,
- Foot damage,
- Dementia or memory decline,
- Depression, etc.
Some of the possible complications due to gestational diabetes include:
- Giving birth to a larger baby,
- Premature birth,
- Low blood sugar,
- Chances of developing type 2 diabetes in the later stage of life,
- May result in the death of the child,
- Jaundice, etc.
The diagnosis process of diabetes mellitus may include :
- Blood teste,
- Urine teste, and
- Screening, etc.
List of Healthy Diets for People with Diabetes:
If you are diabetic, your first priority should be to switch to a healthy lifestyle. By a healthy lifestyle, I mean to say you must eat healthy foods, exercise regularly, and take the medication in a timely manner.
Here’s a list of healthy diets that you can choose from to include in your diet plan depending upon your personal preferences.
- Dash diet,
- Vegan diet,
- Mediterranean diet,
- Engine 2 diets,
- Fertility diet,
- Flexitarian diet,
- Mind diet,
- Vegetarian diet, etc.
All except for the type 1 diabetes can be prevented by applying the same methods that are used in controlling them.
These methods of control include:
- Eating healthy foods and diets:
- Eating healthily:
- Physical exercises:
- Burning out unwanted body fat:
Eating Healthy Foods and Diets:
Eating healthy foods and diets is the key to having optimum health. Try cutting down on foods rich in saturated and trans fat. Go for low carb diets in order to obtain ketosis instead.
It might prove to be helpful in switching to alternative energy source i.e. ketone bodies instead of sugar. You might as well go for vegetable-rich diets i.e. a vegetarian diet or a vegan diet.
Not just the food you eat matters but how well do you eat matters as well. Always take time to properly chew down your foods before you swallow them. Focus on food and prevent distractions when you eat. Drink water before meals and after meals and not while eating.
Our body needs exercise to stay fit and healthy. When we exercise on a daily basis, the unwanted substances are removed from our body in the form of sweat. It also helps to burn excess body fat and helps in the metabolism process.
Exercising daily for about half an hour is highly advised in order to stay in optimal health condition. You can choose your own way of exercising your body i.e swimming, dancing, running, sports, cycling, etc.
Burning Out Unwanted Body Fat:
Obesity and overweight are some of the risk factors associated with type 2 diabetes. It is thus important that you lose excess body weight if you are obese or overweight. You can achieve your goal either by eating healthy or by exercising or both.
You must focus on healthy ways of losing bodyweight without seeking alternatives such as consuming weight loss products available in the market. These products might have adverse effects on your health.