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Diabetes: the basics

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a serious life-long health condition that occurs when the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood is too high because the body can’t use it properly. If left untreated, high blood glucose levels can cause serious health complications.

There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. They’re different conditions, caused by different things, but they are both serious and need to be treated and managed properly.

In the case of Type 1 diabetes, there is no key (insulin) to unlock the door to the cells or in Type 2 diabetes, the insulin is unable to unlock the door properly and/or the key is there but the lock doesn't work properly

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that plays a very important role in our bodies. After we eat, we begin to digest carbohydrates, breaking them down into glucose.

The insulin released by the pancreas moves glucose into our cells, where it is used as fuel for energy. It may help to understand that insulin is often described as a key, which open the doors to the cells, allowing glucose to enter.

Type 1 diabetes

  • Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition where the body attacks and destroys insulin-producing cells, meaning no insulin is produced. This causes glucose to quickly rise in the blood.
  • Nobody knows exactly why this happens, but science tells us it’s got nothing to do with diet or lifestyle.
  • About 10 per cent of people with diabetes have Type 1.

Type 2 diabetes

  • In Type 2 diabetes, the body doesn’t make enough insulin, or the insulin it makes doesn’t work properly, meaning glucose builds up in the blood.
  • Type 2 diabetes is caused by a complex interplay of genetic and environmental factors. Up to 58 per cent of Type 2 diabetes cases can be delayed or prevented through a healthy lifestyle.
  • About 90 per cent of people with diabetes have Type 2.

There are a range of more rare types of diabetes – correct diagnosis and management of these types are equally important. Find out more about other types of diabetes.

 

What is diabetes?


Take a look at this video to understand how diabetes develops and the ways it affects the body.

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