One of the things that you may already know about diabetes is that it has something to do with insulin. Before we get to explaining diabetes it is important to first understand what insulin is, how it is produced and what it does for our body. Insulin is produced in the pancreas and is a hormone that helps to regulate the metabolism of fats and carbs. The job of insulin is to allow glucose to go in to the liver, muscles and fat cells. It basically takes glucose (sugar) out of the blood stream and stores it in cells to be used by the body as an energy source at a later time. Insulin has to be present in order for the glucose channel to open and be allowed to enter the cell. When we eat a meal high in carbs (which turns to sugar in the body) or fat our body increases the production of insulin automatically.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body builds up a resistance to insulin. This happens when the body continues to pump out insulin to try and combat the increase in blood glucose levels (usually caused by a poor diet in patients with type 2 diabetes). When it can no longer keep up with this increased demand the pancreas can become resistant and shut down its production of insulin. This will cause hyperglycemia (or high blood glucose levels), which makes sense considering the hormone that would normally move the glucose out of the blood and into the cells is no longer being made. One of the ways our bodies will get rid of this excess glucose is to excrete it through the urinary tract. This is one of the common ways, along with blood testing, that can help physicians diagnose a patient with diabetes.
Hyperglycemia, sustained high blood glucose levels, can cause serious damage to your body if not treated. It can affect your liver, eyes, kidneys and heart along with damaging your neurological system. You may also know people or heard stories of individuals who have had to have their toes or legs amputated because of diabetes; this is strongly related to the neurological deficits. This occurs when the increased blood glucose levels start to affect the ability of
the nerves to conduct messages. Individuals will lose feeling in their peripheral extremities due to the nerve damage (called peripheral neuropathy, a type of diabetic neuropathy). With decrease sensation, these people are more apt to injury, bunions and/or ulcers and therefor infection. Once the infection gets to a certain point the only option is surgical amputation. This is only one of many negative consequences of having high blood glucose which is why it is important to have this checked annually.
Here is a list of common symptoms of diabetes (if you are experiencing any of these I strongly suggest you visit your primary care physician):
Unexpected weight loss
Decreased sensation in your hands/ feet
For a complete list of symptoms check out the American Diabetes Association website here.
Finally let’s discuss how to help prevent type 2 diabetes. The key to doing this is going to be maintaining a healthy weight, through eating healthy foods and exercising regularly. I blog about nutrition, eating healthy and exercising all the time, so it will be easy to go back and reference some of my former posts and start learning how to do this. There are also many websites and organizations that are strictly aimed at helping people lose weight and live a healthier life style. If you would like more help in trying to achieve a weight lose goal or live a more active life please contact me at my office or reach out through my blog.
I hope that you were able to learn something new about diabetes and insulin today. As a chiropractor I strive to improve the lives of all my patients through counseling and regular chiropractic manipulations. If you are trying to prevent diabetes you may have some work to do. Losing weight can put new stresses on the body causing increased aches and pains that are easily treating with chiropractic care. Or if you are already at a healthy weight but are not eating correctly, the body is not be getting fueled properly, resulting in muscle and joint dysfunction. Trying to live healthy and prevent diabetes can be hard mentally and physically on your body. Stop by my office today and start today on the road to a healthier you!