It’s not uncommon to hear that someone is insulin resistant or diabetic. With our sugar-rich diets, insulin resistance develops and eventually leads to worse conditions, such as type 2 diabetes. So, what causes these chronic diseases? And what can we do about it now?
Your Body Needs Insulin
Insulin is a key hormone in our body. It “opens” the cells and allows glucose to be metabolized. It also coordinates fat storage and influences cell growth and development. Without insulin, our bodies would have no way to utilize the energy from the foods we eat. In fact, full-blown undiagnosed diabetics are likely to be thin. They can’t use the energy from food no matter how much they eat. Once insulin is introduced, they are able to reach a healthy weight again. Without insulin, the body will resort to burning fat to gain the necessary energy. But as the body metabolizes fat stores, the process produces acids called ketones. If there is too much ketone in the system, the body will shut down. This life-threatening condition is known as diabetic ketoacidosis or DKA.
Type 1 Diabetes
In type 1 diabetes (juvenile or insulin-dependent diabetes), the pancreas stops working or has limited function. Here, the body produces an immune response that destroys the beta cells in the pancreas. These beta cells have a vital function, and that is to produce insulin. Because the body can’t absorb sugar or energy, someone who has type 1 diabetes may be thin, lethargic, or sluggish, and he will have a fruity or wine-smelling breath.
Type 2 Diabetes
Here, certain cells, specifically those in the liver, fats, and muscles, are “resistant” to the commands of insulin. When this occurs, glucose accumulates in the bloodstream; thus, creating a condition called “hyperglycemia.” Someone with type 2 diabetes is typically fat, always hungry, and tired.
What causes the pancreas to not produce insulin in the first place? Type 1 diabetes occurs when the immune system attacks the pancreas. This normally happens in childhood.
Insulin resistance is a little trickier. In many cases, insulin resistance is preventable. Lack of exercise and a poor diet can be major contributors to insulin resistance. But even young, active people are diagnosed as insulin resistant. This may be due to the fact that genetics is also a factor in the development of diabetes. Scientists still continue to search for more possible causes. In a recent study, experts speculate that perhaps stress causes the cells to “regress” to a state where they cannot accept insulin.
Diagnosed? What Now?
So what should you do once you are diagnosed? Type 1 diabetes is going to require insulin shots; therefore, you need to learn how to balance your diet with your insulin doses. Learn to eat well and become active. You also need medical supplies for your insulin shots as you or someone you know can administer the daily dose for you.
If you were diagnosed with insulin-resistant or type 2 diabetes, you will also need to change your diet and activity level. You might not require insulin shots, but you will be prescribed anti-diabetic medications, such as Metformin. Less severe cases have managed their type 2 diabetes and prevented further harm with lifestyle changes.