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Diabetes and Diabetic diets

Diabetes (Diabetes Mellitus) is a condition where the body is unable to process glucose (a form of sugar).

When you consume carbohydrates, they are digested, then absorbed into the bloodstream as glucose (also called blood sugar or blood glucose). The pancreas will release insulin (a hormone) which is responsible for processing and utilizing the glucose. The insulin will transport glucose to cells in the body to be used as immediate energy, or used for later. The amount of insulin released normally corresponds to the amount of carbohydrates consumed (and how rapidly).

However, in a diabetic person, the insulin is either missing or deficient. Consequently, the body cannot process the glucose, and the cells do not receive the energy they need for normal function. High levels of blood sugar remain in the bloodstream, which must be expelled (in urine). This causes extra work for the kidneys leading to thirst.

Types of Diabetes

There are three main types of diabetes.

Type I Diabetes

This form of Diabetes is an auto-immune disease. The body's immune system wrongly attacks a part of itself. The beta cells in the Pancreas are destroyed over time, and insulin production ceases. This form of diabetes normally occurs at a juvenile age (children). The patient is completely insulin dependent and must take daily doses of insulin to survive.

Type II Diabetes

This is the most prevalent form of Diabetes, and occurs mainly in adults. You are at risk from this form of diabetes if you have a generic predisposition to it (i.e. its in your family history), you are overweight, and/or over 40. In Type II Diabetes, the Pancreas still creates insulin, but not enough, or the insulin does not function correctly (insulin resistance). This form of Diabetes can be managed (to some degree) with the right diet and exercise, but also with diabetes pills and insulin.

Gestational Diabetes

Occurs in about 4% of pregnant women. Sometimes during pregnancy the woman's body is not able to fully process glucose as well as possible. Beginning around the 5th or 6th month, the diabetes goes away when the baby is born.

Symptoms of diabetes include; fatigue, frequent urination, thirst, blurred vision, weight loss, and slow healing of minor injuries. Longer term diabetes can lead to many other diseases (kidney and eye disease, blindness, and heart attacks).

Diabetes Treatment and Diet

Not all diabetics are treated with medication. Those that do use medication will either inject insulin, or take a pill (hypoglycemia agents).

Diet and exercise are also major factors in controlling the condition. The diabetic person must pay particular attention to their diet - aiming to keep blood sugar at consistent and acceptable levels. Whilst a diabetic can choose to eat what they want - they have to be more careful about eating the right foods.

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