Diabetes is a disorder of the body's metabolism, the process of converting the food we eat into energy. Insulin is the major factor in this process, which begins when food is broken down during digestion to create glucose, the main source of fuel for the body. This glucose passes into the bloodstream, where insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas (a large gland behind the stomach), allows it to get into the cells.

Types of Diabetes

There are two major types of diabetes. Type I, or insulin-dependent, diabetes is sometimes referred to as juvenile diabetes because it most often begins in childhood (although it may also occur in adults). Because the body does not manufacture insulin, people with Type I diabetes must take insulin shots to live. Less than 10 percent of people who have diabetes have Type I.

In Type II diabetes, also referred to as adult-onset-diabetes, the body may make insulin, but either it makes too little, or it can't use what it makes--the insulin is there, but it can't escort the glucose through the entrances to the cells. Type II diabetes occurs most commonly in people over age forty.

The Importance of Good Diabetes Control

This insulin failure causes glucose to build up in the blood, so the body is deprived of its main source of energy. Moreover, the high level of glucose in the blood can cause damage to blood vessels, eyes, kidneys and nerves.

There is no cure for diabetes, so the key to good health for people who have this disorder is to control it: to keep the blood sugar level as near to normal as possible. Good control can go a long way toward Prevention of Complications of Diabetes related to the heart and circulatory system, eyes, kidneys and nerves.

Good control of blood sugar levels are/is possible by planning what you eat, staying physically active, taking your medication as directed and checking your blood sugar level often.

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