Diabetes is a disorder tied to metabolism. Most of the food we eat is converted into glucose for use by the body's cells as fuel. In order for cells to absorb glucose, insulin must be present. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas.
Typically, the pancreas automatically disperses the correct amount of insulin when we eat. In people with diabetes, the pancreas produces significantly less insulin, or the cells themselves do not process the insulin properly. Without the insulin, cells cannot absorb the glucose, which builds in the blood and eventually is excreted through the kidneys. With diabetes, although the blood has plenty of fuel, the cells are unable to use it.
Approximately 23.6 million Americans (about 1 in 13) have diabetes. Diabetes has several forms:
- Type I Diabetes - an auto-immune disorder which attacks the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas
- Type II Diabetes - occurs when the body builds up a resistance to insulin and eventually stops producing it. It is typically associated with older age and obesity, with nearly 95% of diagnosed diabetes being Type II.
- Gestational Diabetes - similar to Type II Diabetes except it develops only during pregnancy.