Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas is no longer able to produce insulin or when the body cannot make good use of the insulin it produces. Diabetes is the condition that occurs when the level of glucose in blood rises above the normal range. The term Diabetes Mellitus was derived from the Greek words meaning ‘passing through’ and ‘sweet as honey’. It was the English physician Thomas Willis (1675) who first used the words to describe this condition. In India the first mention of diabetes occurs in about500 B.C. The famous Ayurveda physicians of ancient India, Charaka and Susruta had noted this disease and named it as ‘Madhumeha’ meaning ‘rain of honey’.
Glucose – source of energy
Our body needs glucose to produce energy for our day to day activities. Energy is very essential for the normal functioning of all our organs. Energy is obtained mainly from carbohydrates, proteins and fat which is present in the food we consume. During the digestion process, they are broken down, ultimately producing glucose. Glucose is used as fuel for energy by the body. Normally when we consume food, it is converted within the body into glucose which is a form of energy. Cells use glucose as a source of energy. Insulin regulates the level of glucose in blood and also helps in utilizing and storing glucose in the body.
Insulin is a hormone which is secreted by the beta cells in the pancreas. As result of food consumption blood glucose level rises and it signals beta cells to secrete insulin. Insulin helps the glucose which has entered the blood in the intestines to reach the blood cells in the body and keeps the blood sugar at normal levels. Insulin is the hormone that functions as the key opening the door for the glucose to reach the cells. If for some reason insulin fails in functioning normally or if the amount produced is less, it results in glucose not reaching the cells, and remaining in the blood. This condition is known as diabetes. Diabetes develops from defects in insulin secretion, insulin action or both. In other words, body is unable to make appropriate use of foods consumed due to insufficient insulin.
The normal range of glucose in blood is between 70mg/dl and 100mg/dl. When tested in the mornings, on an empty stomach, a reading above 126 mg/dl indicates a diabetic condition.
Before developing diabetes many people will have “Pre Diabetes”. It is a stage where blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. If the reading is between 100mg/dl and 126mg/dl it relates to a pre-diabetic condition. If a person has pre diabetes, he is at risk of eventually developing type 2 diabetes. He is also at risk of developing heart disease, even if he doesnt develop diabetes.