Understanding Diabetes

Diabetic must test their blood sugar daily.

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Diabetes is relatively easy for the average person to understand if viewed from a practical view point. If you look at the body as an engine, an engine burns coal (carbon) to produce heat and energy. The body burns similar fuel in a similar way the fuel being the food we eat.

The main fuel is the carbon contained in sugar and starchy foods, such as ie, all cereals, flour, bread and potatoes. When digested these become sugar (glucose) and behave exactly like sugar itself in the body. The diabetic unfortunately cannot use and burn sugar and starch properly and his/her illness arises from this fact.

When such foods are eaten, sugar is not burned normally but accumulates in the body. It overflows through the kidney and is wasted in the urine, making the person weak, poisoning and producing the typical symptoms of thirst, excess of urine and loss of weight. As carbohydrates are the main part of most peoples diet it is not hard to see how failure to burn them can lead to diabetes.

Diabetes in young people generally shows in an increased thirst or a loss of weight, or both.

There are other kinds of food which the body uses as fuel besides carbohydrate. (sugar starch). These are foods such as meats, poultry, fish and white of egg (known as proteins) and the fats, meat fat, butter, margarines, etc. When in severe diabetes, enough carbohydrate cannot be burned and used to meet energy needs the body turns to using protein and fat in large quantities to supply the energy and heat needs of the body.

Increased use of protein and especially of fat produces certain poisonous acids in the body, called ketone or acetone bodies. The state produced by them is called ketosis (Ketoacidosis) and may produce vomiting, sleepiness and breathlessness and leads without insulin treatment, to diabetic coma and death. A balance must be observed between the carbo. on one hand and the protein and fat on the other.

Diabetes in older people is discovered by chance and usually responds well to diet, or tablets.

Therefore although the real failure in diabetes is to burn sugar producing foods, the carbohydrate, the amount and kind of protein and fat must be considered in some cases. Diabetics should also be aware that certain tablets and medicines can either precipitate diabetes as a side effect, or make existing diabetes worse.

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