What Is Diabetes?
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understand what diabetes is, it’s necessary to understand
how the body normally works when food is eaten. Food is made
of three parts: protein, carbohydrate, and fat.
When food is digested, the protein is broken down into amino
acids; the fat is broken down into fatty acids; and the carbohydrate
is broken down into glucose. It is easy to see, then, that
most of the glucose (sugar) in your blood comes from the carbohydrate
Normally when carbohydrate is eaten and digested, blood glucose
rises, which causes insulin to be secreted from the pancreas.
The insulin is needed for glucose to move into cells.
When insulin responds to a higher blood glucose, the glucose
enters the cells where it is either used as energy or stored
as glycogen or converted for long-term storage as adipose
Diabetes is the medical word used when someone either doesn’t
have any insulin or when the insulin they have isn’t
effective. When someone doesn’t have any insulin, it
is called type 1 diabetes. When the insulin is not effective,
it is called type 2 diabetes. In both cases, the blood glucose
stays high unless medication is given or the diet is changed.
Karen Chapman-Novakofski, RD, LD, PhD
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