Do you have Diabetes? or Do you know someone who has diabetes?
Diabetes Mellitus is the full name of what many commonly call simply “diabetes”. In PNG Tok Pisin it is usually referred to as “Sik Suga”. Basically diabetes mellitus is a derangement in the way the body handles the sugar, glucose.
Glucose is a form of sugar that every cell of the body uses to form energy. The foods that we eat that are classified as energy foods, you know things like bread, rice, kaukau, taro and potatoes all contain energy in one form or another.
How your body handle glucose?
To process and extract the energy contained in glucose, the body needs to transport it to the inside the cells, which contains the machinery to process the glucose. Think out it like the need to transport coal from the mines, to the power plants where the coal is process (burned) to extract and convert the energy into electricity.
Insulin! You’ve probably heard of this thing. Insulin is crucial in the body’s handling of glucose. It is the key that opens the lock to the door on the cells that allows glucose to enter the cells. There is a continuous production of insulin by special cells called Beta-islet cells in the pancreas. Think of the pancreas as the body’s insulin factory and storage warehouse. After a meal, the level glucose rises in our blood. This rise in blood glucose stimulates the release of preformed insulin from the pancreas into the blood stream, as well as stimulates the production of even more insulin.
What does insulin actually do?
Once released into the blood from the pancreas, insulin quickly goes to work to transport glucose to the inside of the cells. Most cells have special receptors for insulin surprisingly called “insulin receptors”. When insulin attaches to these receptors, a number things happen that results in a change in the structure of these receptors and the permeability of the cell wall to glucose, allowing glucose to enter the inside of the cells and ultimately to the lowering of blood glucose to its normal pre-meal levels. So the analogue of insulin being the key is really quite appropriate.
Diabetes Mellitus – What goes wrong?
With this brief background of the body’s normal handling of glucose, let’s turn our discussion to what: when this normal process goes wrong and one developes diabetes. Basically, there are two types of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2.
In TYPE 1 Diabetes Mellitus, the primary problem lies in the pancreas. The Beta-islet cells are destroyed by the body’s own immune system, leading to a critical reduction in the production of insulin. Without sufficient insulin, glucose is prevented from entering the inside of the cells and diabetes occurs. Type 1 diabetes is the less common type, and is more common amongst the white (Caucasian) population, and has an earlier onset i.e. in children. Type 1 diabetes is relatively rare in the South Pacific Islands. In contrast TYPE 2 diabetes is very common amongst the South Pacific Island countries and the numbers are increasing drastically.
In Type 2 diabetes, the primary problem lies at the insulin receptor level, which become resistant to the actions of insulin. So if we go back to our key and lock analogue, the key (insulin) is present but is not able to open the lock (insulin receptors) so the glucose door to the inside of the cell cannot open. In an attempt to reduce the glucose the pancreas produces more and more insulin. At first, this increased production of insulin keeps glucose at the normal levels, but as the system gradually becomes overwhelmed, we start to see abnormal glucose levels and eventually diabetes.
This gradual development of diabetes, can be seen as a spectrum of disease, from normal to insulin resistance without any derangement in blood glucose (this is when the increased production of glucose compensates for the insulin resistance), to impaired fasting glucose, impaired glucose tolerance and finally to OVERT TYPE 2 DIABETES MELLITUS.
For more information please refer to http://www.diabetespng.com