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Friday, August 31, 2007


Diabetes is the name given to a group of different conditions in which there is too much glucose in the blood. Here’s what happens:

• The body needs a special sugar called glucose as its main source of fuel or energy. The body makes glucose from foods containing carbohydrate such as vegetables containing carbohydrate (like potatoes or corn) and cereal foods (like bread, pasta and rice) as well as fruit and milk.

• The glucose is carried around the body in the blood and the glucose level is called glycaemia (glyc = glucose; aemia = in the blood). The glucose level must be neither too high nor too low, but just right.

• The glucose running around in the blood stream now has to get out of the blood and into the body tissues. It’s the cells in the body tissues that actually do the work – brain cells so you can think, heart cells so you can pump blood and muscle cells so you can walk. Glucose is also stored in the liver, like you would store food items in the kitchen pantry.

• This is where insulin enters the story. Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas, a gland sitting just below the stomach. Insulin opens the doors (the glucose channels) that let glucose go from the blood to the body cells where energy is made.

• This process is called glucose metabolism.

• In diabetes, the pancreas either cannot make insulin or the insulin it does make is not enough and cannot work properly.

• Without insulin doing its job, the glucose channels are shut. Glucose builds up in the blood leading to high blood glucose levels which causes the health problems linked to diabetes.

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