Diabetes - The Basics

If you have diabetes, your body has difficulty converting the food you eat into energy. Ever wonder why you feel tired so much of the time? This could be the reason why! Your body’s ability to make energy from the food you eat is closely related to a hormone called insulin. An organ in your body called the pancreas makes insulin. If you have diabetes, either your body does not make insulin or your cells cannot properly use the insulin you make. Insulin is like a key that “unlocks” the cell to let glucose in so it can be converted into energy.

  • Type 1 diabetes occurs when the beta cells in your pancreas, which make insulin, have been destroyed. Your own immune system or some outside source can cause this. If your body no longer makes insulin, you must take insulin by injection or use an insulin pump. Only about one out of every 10 people with diabetes has type 1 diabetes.
  • Type 2 diabetes occurs when your body makes insulin, but your cells cannot use it properly. This is known as insulin resistance. When you are first diagnosed, you may even be over-producing insulin. However, over time your body’s ability to make insulin decreases. Approximately nine out of every ten people living with diabetes have type 2 diabetes.
  • Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy and usually disappears after delivery. The placenta, which provides nourishment for the developing baby, also produces hormones that block the action of insulin. This results in a form of insulin resistance. When the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin to keep up with the body’s needs during pregnancy, the result is elevated blood glucose levels. Seven out of every one hundred pregnant women develop gestational diabetes.

Managing diabetes is a great balancing act. You need to balance your food, medication and exercise to keep blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible. It takes a great deal of work, but it can be done. The key to successful diabetes management is education.