Dia­betes is a long-last­ing health con­di­tion that affects how your body con­verts food to ener­gy. Dia­betes patients are unable to make enough of the hor­mone called insulin or can­not use the insulin that is made in their body effi­cient­ly.  When this hap­pens, your body can respond in some seri­ous ways that include liv­er dam­age, heart dis­ease, vision loss, and kid­ney disease.

There are two types of dia­betes. Type 1 dia­betes is an autoim­mune dis­ease where the body just stops mak­ing insulin. These patients are usu­al­ly diag­nosed as chil­dren, teens, or ear­ly adults. Type 2 dia­betes is a result of your body not using the insulin pro­duced in an effi­cient man­ner. About 90% of all dia­bet­ic patients are type 2 cas­es. But, through edu­ca­tion and pre­ven­tion, the effects of dia­betes on a person’s body can be lessened.

How is food con­vert­ed to energy?

When you eat food, most of it is con­vert­ed to sug­ar (glu­cose) and released into your blood­stream to pro­vide you with the ener­gy you need to do dai­ly tasks. When your blood sug­ar lev­els increase, your pan­creas is then acti­vat­ed to release insulin into your body’s cells and use it for ener­gy. Insulin not only helps con­vert glu­cose to ener­gy, but it also helps our body store glu­cose for future ener­gy use.

Dia­betes = Bro­ken Process

In some peo­ple, the con­ver­sion process is inter­rupt­ed and the mes­sage to the pan­creas to release insulin into the cells to use for ener­gy is done inef­fec­tive­ly. These patients have trou­ble bal­anc­ing the cor­rect amount of insulin in their cells and so there­fore have a hard­er time main­tain­ing ener­gy lev­els. Dia­bet­ic patients try to get rid of extra sug­ar (blood sug­ar lev­el of 180 +) through the kid­neys and there­fore have the need to uri­nate more often. When releas­ing large amounts of sug­ar through urine, it means that there is less avail­able to con­vert to ener­gy and leads to lethar­gy, loss of appetite, and excess burn­ing of body fat.

Edu­ca­tion & Pre­ven­tion is Key

For peo­ple with either type 1 or type 2 dia­betes, under­stand­ing how your body process­es sug­ar and main­tains healthy blood sug­ar lev­els is para­mount. Those with type 1 dia­betes require dai­ly insulin shots to keep blood sug­ar lev­els even. These patients are unable to reverse this autoim­mune dis­ease and sole­ly rely on insulin shots to lev­el out glu­cose lev­els. Those with type 2 dia­betes can con­trol the pro­gres­sion of this dis­ease by mak­ing healthy diet choic­es and exer­cis­ing reg­u­lar­ly. In some cas­es, type 2 dia­bet­ics also have to include insulin shots or dia­betes pills.

Novem­ber is Nation­al Dia­betes Month and is a great oppor­tu­ni­ty to adopt healthy lifestyle habits. Main­tain­ing blood sug­ar lev­els through diet and exer­cise as well as becom­ing aware of the effects of the eat­ing choic­es you make is key to under­stand­ing this dis­ease. For more infor­ma­tion on dia­betes and how to make good choic­es, vis­it the Amer­i­can Dia­betes Asso­ci­a­tion website.