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Diabetes Is A Disease Of The Body's Metabolism

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  • Grand Poobah

Diabetes Is A Metabolism Disorder


Diabetes (diabetes mellitus) is classed as a metabolism disorder. Metabolism refers to the way our bodies use digested food for energy and growth. Most of what we eat is broken down into glucose. Glucose is a form of sugar in the blood - it is the principal source of fuel for our bodies.

When our food is digested, the glucose makes its way into our bloodstream. Our cells use the glucose for energy and growth. However, glucose cannot enter our cells without insulin being present - insulin makes it possible for our cells to take in the glucose.

Insulin is a hormone that is produced by the pancreas. After eating, the pancreas automatically releases an adequate quantity of insulin to move the glucose present in our blood into the cells, as soon as glucose enters the cells blood-glucose levels drop.


High levels of sugar in the blood should trigger the pancreas to secrete enough insulin to lower blood sugar levels to 'normal' by insulin moving sugar into our cells for energy.  When the blood sugar level drops to the 'normal' range (because insulin is doing its job), the pancreas receives a message to stop producing insulin.  In some people, the pancreas continues to produce insulin until the blood glucose level is too low.  This is called hypoglycemia versus the hyperglycemia of diabetes.  Chronic hypoglycemia can cause the pancreas to eventually stop functioning because of being overworked.

A person with diabetes has a condition in which the quantity of glucose in the blood is too elevated (hyperglycemia). This is because the body either does not produce enough insulin, produces no insulin, or has cells that do not respond properly to the insulin the pancreas produces. This results in too much glucose building up in the blood. This excess blood glucose eventually passes out of the body in urine. So, even though the blood has plenty of glucose, the cells are not getting it for their essential energy and growth requirements.





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  • Grand Poobah



Insulin is a hormone that is important for metabolism and utilization of energy from the ingested nutrients - especially glucose.


Insulin is produced in the islets of Langerhans in the pancreas. The name insulin comes from the Latin ''insula'' for "island" from the cells that produce the hormone in the pancreas.

Insulin's structure varies slightly between species of animal. Both porcine (from pigs) and bovine (from cows) insulin are similar to human insulin but porcine insulin resembles human insulin more closely.





Insulin is synthesized in significant quantities only in beta cells in the pancreas. It is secreted primarily in response to elevated blood concentrations of glucose. Insulin thus can regulate blood glucose and the body senses and responds to rise in blood glucose by secreting insulin.
Other stimuli like sight and taste of food, nerve stimulation and increased blood concentrations of other fuel molecules, including amino acids and fatty acids, also promote insulin secretion.






Insulin has several broad actions including:

  • It causes the cells in the liver, muscle, and fat tissue to take up glucose from blood and convert it to glycogen that can be stored in the liver and muscles.
  • Insulin also prevents the utilization of fat as an energy source. In absence of insulin or in conditions where insulin is low glucose is not taken up by body cells, and the body begins to use fat as an energy source
  • Insulin also controls other body systems and regulates the amino acid uptake by body cells
  • It has several other anabolic effects throughout the body as well






Since insulin controls the central metabolic processes, failure of insulin production leads to a condition called diabetes mellitus. There are two major types of diabetes – type 1 and type 2.

Type 1 diabetes occurs when there is no or very low production of insulin from the pancreatic beta cells. Patients with Type 1 diabetes mellitus depend on external insulin (most commonly injected subcutaneously) for their survival.


In Type 2 diabetes mellitus the demands of insulin are not met by the amount produced by the pancreatic beta cells. This is termed insulin resistance or ''relative'' insulin deficiency. These patients may be treated with drugs to reduce their blood sugar or may eventually require externally supplied insulin if other medications fail to control blood glucose levels adequately






Though you may not be living with diabetes, your body could be battling against the hormone insulin. The condition, called insulin resistance, occurs when insulin can't effectively do its job. It can lead to the development of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus.


How does the body become resistant to insulin? 

When you eat, food is broken down into glucose to be used for energy. Insulin, a hormone produced in the pancreas, tempers the amount of sugar in the bloodstream by helping glucose get into the muscle, fat and/or liver cells. "We think of insulin as a 'key' that opens doors to the body's cells, so glucose can enter," said diabetes educator Gary Scheiner. With insulin resistance, it's like having locks that are frozen or rusty. The keys won't turn, and glucose can't get into the cell. The pancreas, alarmed by the increase in blood sugar, cranks out more insulin.

Eventually, the overworked pancreas breaks down. Blood sugar levels rise even further, causing pre-diabetes and setting the stage for Type 2 diabetes. "Most people think of diabetes as high blood sugar caused by too little insulin," said Scheiner, the author of "Think Like a Pancreas. "But the insulin resistance is really the root cause of almost all cases of Type 2 diabetes.



Can obesity lead to Insulin Resistance?

It's a risk factor. Excess body fat — particularly around the middle — a sedentary lifestyle, a history of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), having a baby that weighed more than 9 pounds, a family history of Type 2 diabetes and belonging to certain ethnic minority groups (African, Hispanic and Native American,) can increase your risk. High stress levels and the use of steroid medications can be factors.



Most people with insulin resistance don’t know they have it for many years—until they develop type 2 diabetes, a serious, lifelong disease. The good news is that if people learn they have insulin resistance early on, they can often prevent or delay diabetes by making changes to their lifestyle.



















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  • Grand Poobah

Does sleep matter?


Yes. Studies show that untreated sleep problems, especially sleep apnea, can increase the risk of obesity, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes. Night shift workers may also be at increased risk for these problems. Sleep apnea is a common disorder in which a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. People may often move out of deep sleep and into light sleep when their breathing pauses or becomes shallow. This results in poor sleep quality that causes problem sleepiness, or excessive tiredness, during the day.

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  • Grand Poobah




How does insulin resistance relate to type 2 diabetes and prediabetes?


Insulin resistance increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and prediabetes. Prediabetes usually occurs in people who already have insulin resistance. Although insulin resistance alone does not cause type 2 diabetes, it often sets the stage for the disease by placing a high demand on the insulin-producing beta cells. In prediabetes, the beta cells can no longer produce enough insulin to overcome insulin resistance, causing blood glucose levels to rise above the normal range.


Once a person has prediabetes, continued loss of beta cell function usually leads to type 2 diabetes. People with type 2 diabetes have high blood glucose. Over time, high blood glucose damages nerves and blood vessels, leading to complications such as heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney failure, and lower-limb amputations.


Studies have shown that most people with prediabetes develop type 2 diabetes within 10 years, unless they change their lifestyle. Lifestyle changes include losing 5 to 7 percent of their body weight—10 to 14 pounds for people who weigh 200 pounds—by making changes in their diet and level of physical activity.

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  • Grand Poobah

What are the symptoms of insulin resistance and prediabetes?


Insulin resistance and prediabetes usually have no symptoms. People may have one or both conditions for several years without knowing they have them. Even without symptoms, health care providers can identify people at high risk by their physical characteristics, also known as risk factors



People with a severe form of insulin resistance may have dark patches of skin, usually on the back of the neck. Sometimes people have a dark ring around their neck. Dark patches may also appear on elbows, knees, knuckles, and armpits. This condition is called acanthosis nigricans.




Who should be tested for prediabetes?

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends that testing to detect prediabetes be considered in adults who are overweight or obese and have one or more additional risk factors for diabetes. Body mass index (BMI)  measurements can determine if a person is overweight or obese. However, not everyone who is overweight will get type 2 diabetes. People without these risk factors should begin testing at age 45.



Risk factors for prediabetes—in addition to being overweight or obese or being age 45 or older—include the following:

  • being physically inactive
  • having a parent or sibling with diabetes
  • having a family background that is African American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, or Pacific Islander American
  • giving birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds
  • being diagnosed with gestational diabetes—diabetes that develops only during pregnancy
  • having high blood pressure—140/90 mmHg or above—or being treated for high blood pressure
  • HDL cholesterol level below 35 mg/dL or a triglyceride level above 250 mg/dL
  • having polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • having prediabetes, impaired fasting glucose (IFG), or impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) on an earlier testing
  • having other conditions associated with insulin resistance, such as obesity or acanthosis nigricans
  • having CVD


If test results are normal, testing should be repeated at least every 3 years. Testing is important for early diagnosis. Catching prediabetes early gives people time to change their lifestyle and prevent type 2 diabetes and CVD. Health care providers may recommend more frequent testing depending on initial results and risk status.


In addition to weight, the location of excess fat on the body can be important. A waist measurement of 40 inches or more for men and 35 inches or more for women is linked to insulin resistance and increases a person’s risk for type 2 diabetes. This is true even if a person’s BMI falls within the normal range.

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  • 3 years later...

Hmm, I hope the very nice lady who wrote this comes back and writes more.

Diabetes can also result from autoimmune disorders, certain medications, and a few other things.

So far great post Denise!


Edited to add, I am both a type 1 and a type 2 diabetic. I have JRA which decided my pancreas did not belong to me and destroyed it. Now I carry my pancreas (insulin pump) in my pocket. 

Edited by DaMerlyn
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  • 4 weeks later...
  • Members

I also enjoy reading about her post about diabetes. I am a type 1 diabetic. I got diagnosed at the age of 20. 978 blood sugar out of no where. :( This is some very interesting information.

Edited by MEOWWWW
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  • 5 months later...
  • Diamond Sponsor

Me too it makes me so freaking grateful when I read other people's stories about how they ended up here on this forum it makes me feel like I know them better. I think I'm pre menopausal because I read @RedGypsy and her thyroid cancer which I also had but not nearly as bad. I'm perfectly healthy as long as I take my syntyroid but I was literally crying reading what this poor woman has gone through it made me feel so much gratitude and sadness for her. I feel like she's my soul sister just by sharing about what brought her here. I feel gratitude every single day when I read the horror stories of what others have gone through and how much pain they are in and it makes me so sad and angry at this whole War on Drugs and Big Pharma! It has given me more empathy towards others. This is why this board is so crucial for those of you who are under medicated and in pain. I just come for the bennies but when I started I was coming to get occasional pain meds. A year in jail and rehab in Florida now I have a year off heroin and cocaine. But I see how important this board and our members are. I wish others would do the same. I have learned about so many diseases and ailments now that I never knew existed. Thanks for everyone that's shared. It's definitely been a learning experience and I thank the members who have told their stories it's opened a whole new light to see why we need this community. Thanks to all you have given me so much gratitude every day when I wake up and I'm not in pain! Best wishes to all!

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