If you or someone in your family has Type 2 diabetes, you’ve heard all about the need for diabetics to avoid taking in unhealthy carbs. But do you know exactly why carbohydrates cause problems for people who have been diagnosed as having diabetes? The better you understand the role of carbohydrates in this condition, the better you’ll be able to manage your diabetes or help your family members manage theirs.
There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed during childhood, while Type 2 is more often diagnosed in adults. Because of this, Type 2 diabetes is sometimes referred to as being adult-onset. But it can occur in children also and this has been on the rise lately along with the rise in childhood obesity.
In Type 1 diabetes, the body doesn’t produce insulin. In Type 2 diabetes, the body either doesn’t produce enough insulin or doesn’t respond correctly to it. So Type 1 diabetics will always need to take insulin to stay healthy. Type 2 diabetics may need to take insulin, but can also manage their disease through diet and exercise. These lifestyle changes can help get your body to produce more insulin or respond to it better.
Insulin is a hormone that is necessary in your body for using glucose for energy. Glucose is a simple sugar that makes up most carbohydrates. After we eat carbohydrates and they are digested, insulin tells your body to store sugar in the cells for energy. If your body doesn’t have enough insulin or doesn’t respond to insulin, the sugar will stay in the blood instead of being stored in your cells. This is when high blood sugar happens.
There are a couple of problems with having high blood sugar. First of all, the glucose never makes it to the cells, where it’s used for energy. Carbohydrates are a main source of fuel for your body and when there aren’t any carbohydrates available for energy, the body has to use fat instead. This can cause problems like ketoacidosis, where waste products called ketones build up and your body can’t get rid of them.
The other problem with having high blood sugar is that all the extra sugar in the blood is dangerous for your body. There’s nowhere for the extra sugar to go, and it can cause damage in many areas – your eyes, feet, nerves, skin, and more. The good news is that understanding how carbohydrates and insulin work in your body can help you better understand diabetes and how to manage it.