What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects the way your body regulates blood sugar, also known as glucose (CDC, 2020). Most of the food we eat is converted to glucose and released into your bloodstream. Glucose is your cells’ form of energy, but before this energy can enter the cells, it requires a key known as Insulin.
There are two types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. People with type 1 diabetes do not produce insulin (Healthline, 2018). Using the key scenario, these people do not have a key to begin with (Healthline, 2018). On the other hand, people with type 2 diabetes do not respond well to insulin and eventually do not make enough insulin. In this case, you can think of it as having a faulty key.
Because of the implicated insulin, both types of diabetes lead to chronically elevated blood sugar levels in the body. This eventually leads to further health complications, such as heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease (CDC, 2020).
Symptoms of Diabetes
If not managed well, type 1 and 2 diabetes can lead to symptoms such as:
The symptoms for type 1 diabetes often develop quickly, whereas the symptoms for type 2 diabetes develop slowly over many years.
What Causes Diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes, which accounts for only 5-10% of all diagnosed cases, is thought to be caused by an autoimmune reaction, where the immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin (Healthline, 2018). Type 2 diabetes is a result of insulin resistance (Healthline, 2018). Insulin is produced, but the body is unable to use it properly. 90-95% of people with diabetes have type 2. Research was not conclusive on what causes insulin resistance, but factors such as excess weight and inactive lifestyles may be significant contributors (Healthline, 2018).
Treat Type 2 Diabetes by Treating Obesity
Because excess weight and inactive lifestyles contribute significantly to type 2 diabetes, people with type 2 diabetes and also happen to be overweight or obese should prioritize weight loss as an important goal. Losing weight can have a big impact on diabetes type 2. Moderate weight loss can help decrease insulin resistance, and as a result, aid the management of this chronic disease. Diet and exercise will help in achieving this weight loss, but in certain cases, procedures or surgeries may be necessary.