Diabetes Basics

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic, often debilitating and sometimes fatal disease, in which the body either cannot produce insulin or cannot properly use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that controls the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood. Diabetes leads to high blood sugar levels, which can damage organs, blood vessels and nerves. The body needs insulin to use sugar as an energy source.

What is the pancreas and what does it do?

The pancreas is an organ that sits behind the stomach and releases hormones into the digestive system. In the healthy body, when blood sugar levels get too high, special cells in the pancreas (called beta cells) release insulin. Insulin is a hormone and it causes cells to take in sugar to use as energy or to store as fat. This causes blood sugar levels to go back down.

Lower Your Risk for Diabetes by Losing Weight

Are you more than 20% over your ideal body weight? Losing even a few kgs can help you avoid developing type 2 diabetes. Making healthy food choices Follow simple daily guidelines, like eating a variety of foods including fresh fruits and vegetables, limiting fat intake to 30% or less of daily calories, and watching your portion size. Healthy eating habits can go a long way in preventing diabetes and other health problems.

Exercising Regular exercise allows your body to use glucose without extra insulin. This helps combat insulin resistance and is what makes exercise helpful to people with diabetes. Never start an exercise program without checking with your doctor first.

What are the complications of diabetes?

Having high blood sugar can cause diabetes-related complications, like chronic kidney disease, foot problems, non-traumatic lower limb (leg, foot, toe, etc.) amputation, eye disease (retinopathy) that can lead to blindness, heart attack, stroke, anxiety, nerve damage, and erectile dysfunction (men). Diabetes-related complications can be very serious and even life-threatening. Properly managing blood sugar levels reduces the risk of developing these complications.