If you are hypoglycemic, pre diabetic, or in the early stages of the disease; one of the most important things you can do to delay the onset of full blown diabetes is to watch your glucose levels. Spikes, both positive and negative, only exacerbate the problem and advance the disease. This is especially true for type 2 diabetes; which is the most common form of the disease. But what exactly are glucose levels? Simply put, glucose levels are the relative amounts of glucose, a simple form of sugar that most of the cells in your body use for food, in your blood stream. Glucose (chemical formula C6H12O6) is carried by your blood to the cells in your body for use as fuel. The hormone that facilitates the transfer of glucose from blood to other cells is insulin. Insulin is normally produced in the pancreas and released into the bloodstream after you eat. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas is attacked by your white blood cells, which kill off the insulin producing cells within it. This means that type 1 diabetics have to get their insulin from outside the body. The most common way to do this these days is through a small machine that monitors glucose levels and has a needle somewhere around the waistline.
The challenges presented by type 2 diabetes are much different than the ones in type 1. For starters, in early type 2 diabetes the pancreas is producing insulin at normal rates. The diabetic tendencies (spikes or drops in blood sugar levels) are caused instead by the rest of the body’s cells. These cells become resistant to insulin. This is the type of diabetes commonly referred to as a rich person’s disease, because it is created over a lifetime of indulging in high-sugar foods. The body’s cells essentially become overexposed to both glucose and insulin, and become desensitized to the effects of insulin. This creates a much thornier problem for medicine, because the insulin, at least in early stages of type 2 diabetes, is still being produced in sufficient amounts to regulate glucose levels under normal circumstances. Researchers have been developing medications to enhance the body’s receptivity to insulin in an attempt to freeze the disease in early stages. The early results from these medications have been promising.
However, as type 2 diabetes progresses, the insulin production capacity of the pancreas dies off. This is because of the monitoring systems in your body. The pancreas produces a typical amount of insulin, but because your body becomes resistant to it, less of the insulin is used. This results in a high level of insulin in the blood, which leads your body to cut back production. The body will continue production cuts in an attempt to achieve a normal blood insulin level, which results in atrophy of the overall insulin production capacity. Advanced type 2 diabetes ends up with a body that produces very little insulin, and is resistant to the little that is produced. In advanced stages, it looks a lot like type 1, and the dangers are similar for both. However, with early detection, proper exercise and diet, and good monitoring of your glucose levels, you can prevent type 2 from advancing to this acute stage for many years, possibly even the rest of your life.