What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder. Normally most of the food you eat is broken down into glucose and other simple sugars. Glucose is absorbed into the blood stream to be used by cells for energy. Cells need glucose to work, and blood glucose rises after food is eaten. Insulin is then released from the pancreas as blood glucose levels increase. Cells have receptor sites on the outside, and when insulin attaches to the receptor sites, a pathway is made and glucose goes into the cell. Insulin opens the cells like a key. Glucose goes from the blood into the cells and the blood glucose stays in the normal range. Excess food is generally converted into fat and stored.

When a person has diabetes, food is broken down in the normal way. Glucose is also produced and absorbed into the blood in the normal way. The problem rests with insulin action. With little or no insulin action occurring, the glucose cannot enter the cells. The glucose builds up in the blood, leaving cells starving for it. Blood glucose levels rise, causing hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).