What is Diabetes?
Diabetes Mellitus is a Disorder of Metabolism
When you eat, the body begins the digestion process, which is the body’s way of breaking down food (carbohydrate, protein, and fat sources) into nutrients that can be used by the cells. Carbohydrates found in all foods that contain starch (ex. grains, pasta, rice, dried beans) or sugar (ex. milk, fruit, sweets, table sugar) are broken down into a simple, fast absorbing form of sugar called glucose. Glucose is fuel to your body; it gives the body energy.
Diabetes is a chronic condition characterized by high levels of blood glucose (sugar) because the body is unable to use insulin or produce insulin properly. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas, an elongated gland located behind the stomach. Insulin regulates the way the body uses carbohydrates for energy. Your body requires insulin to move glucose in the bloodstream into the cells to use for fuel. Think of insulin like a “key” used to unlock cells in the body so glucose can enter and provide energy. There are several types of diabetes but the two most common types are Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
By the Numbers
General Facts about Diabetes
- Approximately 29 million Americans, or eight percent of the population, have diabetes, and worldwide it afflicts more than 380 million people.
- It is estimated that 25 percent of people 65 or older have diabetes mellitus.
- It is a leading cause of blindness, kidney failure, amputations, heart failure and stroke.