What do you usually think about when you hear the word Halloween? Trick or treating, costumes and candy! Sugar, Sugar, Sugar! It is a fun night for children to get dressed up, grab a bag, run around the neighborhood ,and collect lots of yummy, sugary, candy! We’ve all done it and, needless to say, it was always a good time. So, eQuoteMD thought this would be a good time to discuss a disease which deals directly with sugar.
As most of us know, diabetes is a medical term that describes a metabolic disease in which a person develops high blood sugar, or glucose. There are two types of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2. Many people do not know the difference between the two or why they occur. Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are similar diseases, but are also very different.
Type 1 diabetes occurs as the result of an immune system malfunction. It is thought to be caused by an unknown virus that attacks our bodies, and then our immune system attacks the virus and mistakes our own beta cells for the foreign virus cells. The pancreas produces beta cells which produce insulin, a hormone that manages blood sugar. Without insulin we cannot process sugar correctly, which causes high blood sugar. Most of the food that we eat is metabolized into blood glucose (sugar). It is not just white or brown sugar that turns into blood sugar. All carbohydrates are converted into blood glucose, which include fruit sugars, refined sugars and unrefined carbohydrates. The sugar is delivered to our blood cells to keep them balanced and living. However, the need for insulin exists because there cannot be too much blood sugar in our cells. The lack of insulin means sugar cannot move from our blood into our cells, meaning that our cells have no access to life-sustaining glucose. If the balance of our blood is lost, this could eventually lead to loss of consciousness; hence the need for insulin. To sum it up, Type 1 diabetes is caused by the complete lack of beta cells which produce insulin. Type 1 diabetics are completely dependent on synthetic insulin to balance the intake of carbohydrates and manage their blood sugar. Until there is a cure, Type 1 diabetics must rely on checking their blood sugar throughout the day and making sure they take enough insulin to keep their levels in a certain range to stay healthy, while at the same time not taking too much insulin to where they are too low. There is a very fine balancing act that takes place to stay healthy as a Type 1 diabetic. Diet and regular exercise are very important for regulating blood sugar in Type 1 diabetics but cannot replace the need for synthetic insulin since there is no natural insulin being made.
Type 2 diabetes is a disease that mainly affects people who are overweight and inactive. People with Type 2 diabetes still have beta cells which produce insulin; however, the insulin is not being metabolized correctly. This causes insulin resistance. What happens is the pancreas makes more insulin to balance the cells correctly but it cannot keep up with all of the extra sugar and fat. Therefore people with Type 2 also can get high blood sugar because they cannot produce enough insulin to keep their sugar low. Many Type 2 people have to take medicine to manage their sugar. However, exercise and a healthy diet can definitely help metabolize sugar much better for Type 2 diabetics if not cure them from having to take insulin. Maintaining a healthy weight through diet and regular exercise are keys to help manage and avoid complications for Type 2 diabetics.
Both Type 1 and Type 2 can affect any person at any age. So, this Halloween when the young ones come home from trick or treating and are sitting on the floor eating their new found sugary treasures, remember that everything is ok in moderation. It is good for children to be children but it is also good for parents to be educated about these two different types of diabetes and to know that a healthy diet and regular exercise are always recommended for maintaining a healthy lifestyle and metabolizing blood sugar, diabetic or not.
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