Glucose, Fructose and the Rest

Managing blood glucose levels is a critical aspect of diabetes management, which involves a combination of lifestyle modifications, medication, and regularly monitoring blood glucose levels.

By Dr. Rajkumar Singh | August 2023

Characterised by high blood sugar levels, diabetes is a chronic medical condition, which occurs when the human body doesn’t produce enough insulin or can’t effectively use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar and allows cells to use glucose for energy. Without sufficient insulin or proper insulin function, glucose builds up in the bloodstream, leading to various health complications.

At large, it is of two types- Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. As a result, the body produces little to no insulin. It is usually diagnosed in children and young adults and requires lifelong insulin therapy. Another is Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of diabetes, accounting for the majority of cases. It occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin or doesn’t produce enough insulin to maintain normal blood sugar levels.

Type 2 diabetes is often associated with lifestyle factors such as obesity, physical inactivity, and poor diet. It can be managed through lifestyle modifications, oral medications, and sometimes insulin injections. In line the third is gestational diabetes which occurs during pregnancy when hormonal changes affect insulin function. It is usually resolved after delivery, but women with gestational diabetes have an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life. Proper management during pregnancy is crucial to minimise risks to both the mother and baby.

The relation between diabetes and sugar is a fundamental aspect of the condition. In diabetes, the body has difficulty regulating blood sugar levels, which leads to elevated levels of sugar (glucose) in the bloodstream. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps regulate blood sugar levels. In individuals without diabetes, insulin helps transport glucose from the bloodstream into the cells, where it is used for energy. In people with diabetes, either the body doesn’t produce enough insulin or it doesn’t effectively use the insulin it produces.

When we consume food, especially carbohydrates, our body breaks it down into glucose, which enters the bloodstream. In response, the pancreas releases insulin to allow glucose to enter the cells. But in case of diabetes, this process is impaired, leading to elevated blood sugar levels (hyperglycaemia). Although, in the process sugar by itself doesn’t directly cause diabetes, consuming excessive amounts of sugary foods and drinks can contribute to the development of Type 2 diabetes.

When we consume sugary foods, they are quickly converted into glucose, causing a spike in blood sugar levels. This puts stress on the pancreas to produce more insulin to regulate the excess glucose. In addition, carbohydrates, including sugars, have the most significant impact on blood sugar levels. Individuals with diabetes need to monitor and manage their carbohydrate intake to maintain stable blood sugar levels. This involves counting carbohydrates and balancing them with insulin or other diabetes medications. However, high blood sugar levels over time can lead to various complications associated with diabetes, such as cardiovascular disease, kidney damage, nerve damage, and eye problems. Therefore, managing blood sugar levels through diet, medication, and lifestyle choices is crucial for preventing these complications.

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