Diabetes is when your body has trouble making insulin or the insulin does not work properly. Without insulin, too much glucose remains in the blood. This damages blood vessels over time.
There are several types of diabetes.
- In type 1 diabetes the pancreas makes little or no insulin. Therefore people with type 1 diabetes need to take insulin. This type of diabetes can happen at any age, and usually affects younger people.
- In type 2 diabetes the pancreas is still making insulin, but the insulin doesn’t work properly. This is sometimes called insulin resistance. About 90% of people with diabetes have type 2. Many Māori and Pacific people are affected by Type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes can be managed through healthy eating and regular physical activity. Medication may also be required as the pancreas becomes tired and makes less insulin over time. Some people with Type 2 diabetes may also have to take insulin as their own insulin supply runs out.
The role of glucose in the body
- Carbohydrates found in the sugary/starchy foods are turned into glucose (body sugar) in the stomach and intestines.
- The glucose passes out into the blood stream and is taken all around the body.
- Insulin (a hormone produced by the pancreas) helps move glucose from the blood stream to the body’s cells to be used as energy.
The role that glucose plays in a healthy body
- When you eat, the food goes down your stomach and then into the intestine. Here the carbohydrates (sugars and starch in the food) get broken down into sugar – called glucose.
- Glucose moves out from the intestine into the blood stream which carries the glucose all around the body. Your body cells use the glucose for energy like a car uses petrol. Glucose is stored in your liver and muscles to provide the body with energy when you are not eating.
- When you eat foods high in carbohydrates (eg, bread, rice, cereals, pasta, fruit, potato, kumara, taro, sugar, honey) you body sends signals to the pancreas (a gland that lies behind your stomach) telling it to secrete insulin.
- Insulin is very important. It helps move glucose from the blood stream to the body’s cells to be used for energy.
Last updated: 2 December 2016