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Your body turns carbohydrates into a simple blood sugar called glucose. When glucose enters your bloodstream, your pancreas releases a hormone called insulin, which allows the glucose to enter your body’s cells. Once inside the cell, the glucose is turned into energy. When the body does not produce or properly use insulin, sugar builds up in your bloodstream and you develop diabetes.

There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes patients don’t produce enough insulin. This type of diabetes is generally treated with insulin injections. Patients with type 2 diabetes produce enough insulin, but their cells don’t use it properly, resulting in elevated blood sugar levels. This type is often referred to as “insulin resistant” diabetes. Type 2 patients may be able to achieve their blood sugar targets with diet and exercise, or they may be treated with medications that increase the levels of insulin produced and/or increase the body’s sensitivity to insulin.

While the cause of diabetes is unknown, genetics, obesity, and lack of exercise seem to be contributing factors. Diet and exercise are important factors in treating both types of diabetes. For more information, see Diabetes & Nutrition.

 

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