What is Diabetes

 By Hans Diehl, M.D. www.chiphealth.com

Since World War II diabetes has been advancing relentlessly in developed countries where it is now one of the leading causes of death. If present trends continue, babies born today will have a one in three chance of becoming diabetic in their lifetimes. For Hispanics, it is worse. It is one in two! Until recent times, there has been no known cure.

No more! Today many people are reversing diabetes! They are normalizing their blood sugars and getting off insulin by making healthful lifestyle changes. (Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar (glucose), starches, and other food into energy needed for daily life.)

What Exactly Is Diabetes?

Diabetes occurs when the body becomes unable to handle glucose (sugar), which builds up to dangerous levels in the blood. A diagnosis of diabetes is usually made when a blood sugar test is consistently above 125 mg% (7.0 mmol/L) after an eight-hour fast. Fasting blood sugar (FBS) levels of 110-125 (6.1-6.9 mmol/L) are known as pre-diabetic levels with their impaired fasting glucose tolerance. They usually precede full-blown diabetes.

There are two kinds of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes afflicts about 5 percent of diabetics. They are usually thin and rarely overweight. Type 1 diabetes usually begins in childhood and is commonly known as juvenile diabetes. Since these diabetics cannot survive without insulin, it is now officially called insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM). In Type 1 diabetes, the body does not have the ability to produce insulin. Risk factors for Type 1 diabetes may be autoimmune, genetic, or environmental. There is no known way to prevent Type 1 diabetes, except to leave out all dairy proudcts from the diet of babies.

Type 2 diabetes is different. Called adult-onset diabetes or noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM), Type 2 diabetes is the most common kind, affecting more than 90 percent of diabetics. Type 2 diabetes generally hits around age 45 to 55 as people get older and fatter, but in the context of obesity it can strike at any age. In contrast to the juvenile diabetics (Type 1 diabetes), most Type 2 diabetics, when diagnosed, have plenty of insulin in their bodies, but something blocks the insulin so it cannot do its job properly.

Type 2 diabetes is associated with obesity, older age, family history of diabetes, history of gestational diabetes, impaired glucose metabolism, physical inactivity, and race/ethnicity. African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, and some Asian Americans and Native Hawaiians or Other Pacific Islanders are at particularly high risk for Type 2 diabetes and its complications. Clinically-based reports and regional studies suggest that Type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents, although still rare, is being diagnosed more frequently, particularly in American Indians, African Americans, and Hispanic/Latino Americans.

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