Proteins play many important roles in living organisms. The hormone insulin is a protein that stimulates cells to take up glucose. More than 18 million Americans have diabetes, an inability of the body to make or respond to insulin.
When the body cannot make or respond to insulin, the body's cells must switch to burning mainly fat as their fuel. The resulting high levels of fat in the blood can cause cardiovascular disease. In addition, the glucose that accumulates in the blood causes other problems. For example, diabetes can have serious complications, including kidney disease, heart failure, blindness, and amputation of the lower limbs. Some symptoms of diabetes include increased thirst, frequent urination, fatigue, and weight loss.
Type 1 Diabetes
Between 5 and 10 percent of people who suffer from diabetes have type 1 diabetes, which usually starts in childhood. The body's immune system mistakenly attacks cells in the pancreas that make insulin. If untreated, type 1 diabetes is usually fatal.
People with type 1 diabetes require a carefully monitored diet, physical activity, home blood glucose testing several times a day, and multiple daily insulin injections. In the past, insulin was delivered by shots. Now, there are pumps that regularly deliver small amounts of insulin. The pumps can be implanted surgically and refilled periodically by injection.
The majority of people who suffer from diabetes have type 2 diabetes, which can begin at any age. A diet high in sugars and fats, a sedentary lifestyle, and being overweight can each increase the chances of developing this type of diabetes.Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas cannot keep up with the demand for insulin or the cells become resistant to insulin's effects.
For type 2 diabetes, treatment typically includes a healthy diet, regular exercise, and home blood glucose testing. Some people must also take oral medication and/or insulin.
About 40 percent of people with type 2 diabetes require insulin injections.
There is currently not a way to prevent type 1 diabetes. But exercise, a healthy diet, and insulin injections can allow a person to lead a normal life. Ways to prevent type 2 diabetes include exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet.
Medical researchers are working on devices that can monitor blood sugar better. Other researchers are trying to improve the delivery of insulin by using timed-release drugs or by developing smaller implants. Some researchers are working on improving organ transplant surgery and finding genes linked to diabetes.
Was this article helpful?