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What is diabetes?

In order for the body’s systems and metabolism to run smoothly, the internal environment must be right. In particular, the blood glucose levels must be kept within a tight range of between 4-8 mmol/L. The body has multiple strategies to make sure the blood sugar doesn’t go beyond those ranges. This is particularly so after a meal. You would expect that the sugar levels will rise after we eat but the body keeps it under a tight range.

Insulin, a hormone produced by the beta cells in the pancreas is one of the many hormones that the body uses to keep the sugar levels down by:

  1. Stopping the liver from producing more sugars
  2. Increase absorption of sugars into the muscles, liver, kidneys and fat cells
  3. Reduce appetite for more food

When these bodily systems fail (see system failure), sugar levels starts rising and diabetes is diagnosed. The internal environment then becomes chaotic and other systems fail. Arteries and internal organs are gradually damage.

Any additional sugars from the diet (direct sugars or carbohydrates that become sugars) obviously, will make the whole system worse.

 

Diabetes is diagnosed if:

  • Fasting sugar > 7.0 mmol/L or
  • Sugars 2 hours after meals > 11.0 mmol/L or
  • Average sugars over 2 months (“HbA1c”) > 6.5%

 

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