What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is the name given to a group of different conditions in which there is too much glucose in the blood. Here’s what happens:

• The body needs a special sugar called glucose as its main source of fuel or energy. The body makes glucose form foods containing carbohydrates such as vegetables containing carbohydrate (like potatoes or corn) and cereal foods (like bread, pasta and rice) as well as fruit and milk.

• The glucose running around in the blood stream now has to get out of the blood and into the body tissues. It’s the cells in the body tissues that actually do the work- brain cells so you can think, heart cells so you can pump blood and muscle cells so you can walk. Glucose is also stored in the liver, like you would store food items in the kitchen pantry.

• There is where insulin enters the story. Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas. Insulin opens the doors (the glucose channels) that let glucose go from the blood to the body cells where energy is made.

• In diabetes, the pancreas either cannot make insulin or the insulin it does make is not enough and cannot work properly.

• Without insulin doing its job, the glucose channels are shut. Glucose builds up in the blood leading to high blood glucose levels which causes the health problems linked to diabetes.

There are different types of Diabetes

Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes and Gestational Diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy). For Type 2 diabetes there are also three known pre-diabetic conditions.

Type 1

This used to be called insulin dependent diabetes or juvenile diabetes. However this was confusing as many mature people with Type 2 diabetes need insulin to manage their diabetes. It does usually effect children and young aldults. It is the least common form with just 10-15% of all people with biabetes having Type 1 diabetes.

Type 2

This use to be called non-insulin dependent diabetes or mature-age onset diabetes. It is by far the most common form.

Type 2 diabetes is a lifestyle disease and is strongly associated with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and the classic ‘apple shape’ body where there is extra weight around the waist.

Type 2 diabetes are always insulin resistant. This means that their pancreas is making insulin but the insulin is not working as well as it should, so it must make more. Eventually it can’t make enough to keep the glucose balance right.

Adopting a healthy lifestyle may delay the need for tablets and/or insulin. But by taking tablets and/or insulin as soon as they are needed, complications caused by diabetes can be reduced.

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy and usually goes away after the baby is born. In pregnancy, the placenta makes hormones that help the baby to grow and develop. Gestational diabetes occurs because there hormones also block the action of the mother’s insulin. This is called insulin resistance.

What happens if a diabetic is not treated?

High blood glucose levels can damage the body. This can cause:

• Heart attach and stroke

• Losing limbs (amputation)

• Blindness or vision impairment

• Kidney failure

• Erectile dysfunction

What are the main symptoms of diabetes?

In type 1 diabetes, symptoms are usually sudden and can be life-threatening, therefore it is mostly diagnosed quite quickly. In type 2 diabetes, many people have no symptoms at all, which other signs can go unnoticed, being seen as part of ‘getting older’. Therefore, by the time symptoms are noticed, the blood glucose level for many people can be very high.

Common symptoms include:

• Being more thirsty than usual

• Feeling tired and lethargic

• Having cuts that heal slowly

• Blurred vision

• Passing more urine

• Always feeling hungry

• Itching, skin infections

• Gradually putting on weight (Type 2)

• Unexplained weight loss (Type 1)

• Mood swings

• Feeling dizzy

• Headaches

• Leg cramps

Are you at risk?

Getting tested is important to find out if you have diabetes or are likely to get it. Diabetes is serious, but it can be managed.

Risk factors for Type 2 Diabetes

• Having family members with diabetes

• Being overweight or carrying fat around your middle

• Having high blood pressure

• Having high cholesterol (fat levels) in the blood

• Having heart disease or a previous heart attack

• Being older than 55 • For women, having diabetes while pregnant (gestational diabetes), or having Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

• Being older than than 35 and from one of these backgrounds: Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, Chinese, Pacific Islander or Indian

What About Pre-Diabetes?

Pre-diabetes or insulin resistance is the start of type 2 diabetes when insulin the key that lets the glucose from the blood stream in to the cells gets 'rusty'and does not work so well. So you need more insulin to do the same job thus "insulin resistance"

What About Glycaemic Index?

Click here for brouchure on Glycemic Index?

For more information her are books recomended on diabetes

More information about diabetes coming soon.

Cant wait!

Try some yummy diabetic recipes

or a diabetic friendly menu plan.

For diabetic information visit Diabetes Australia website?

Need more help managing your diabetes. Enquire about seeing a dietitian.

Dietitian avaiable at Podiatry One Suite A4, 24- 32 Lexington Drv Bella Vista NSW 2153 ph: (02) 8824 4211 Hours Tuesdays 1-6pm Appointments phone 0438431981

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