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Diet and Disease
Diabetes Facts
By: Tricia Fleming,
University of Kansas Dietetic Intern,
Tammy Beason, MS, RD,
Nutrition Education Specialist,
Candance Gabel, MS, RD, LD
Associate State Nutrition Specialist, Family Nutrition Education Program
Family Nutrition
Education Programs

Nutrition and Lifeskills for Missouri Families

What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition that occurs when the pancreas is not producing insulin or when the body has lost its ability to use insulin.

What is Insulin?
Insulin is a hormone that is released in response to elevated blood sugar level in the body. Insulin lowers blood sugar by allowing the insulin to move out of the blood and into the cells. This is where the cells get the energy they need.

Type of Diabetes:

There are several types of Diabetes. The two most common are Type I or insulin dependent Diabetes and Type II or adult onset diabetes. Type I, usually is diagnosed in children and young adults. For some reason, the body has attacked the pancreas and destroyed the cells that produce insulin. Type II diabetes is usually diagnosed in obese patients over the age of 45. It is associated with defects in the release of insulin and insulin action. The pancreas is still producing insulin, but the insulin receptors no long respond to it.

Symptoms of Diabetes:

There is a classic triad of symptoms that relate to diabetes:

Polyphasia: Excessive eating
Polyurea: Excessive urination
Polydypsia: Excessive fluid intake

Diagnosis of Diabetes:

This is usually done with a fasting glucose test: A level >110 is indicative of impaired fasting glucose and a level of >126 is indicative of diabetes.

Treatment of Diabetes:

Carbohydrates are the component of food that gets broken down into sugar. Carbohydrates can be bread, starches, cereals, fruit and milk items. People with Type I Diabetes must take daily shots of insulin to remain alive. It is crucial for them to find the right insulin to carbohydrate ratio. There are several methods for monitoring nutrient intake for diabetics, the most common being the Exchange Lists or Carbohydrate Counting.

People with Type II Diabetes most often do not need insulin; they can control their blood sugar by monitoring their diet and by taking oral medication.

In both cases it is crucial to monitor blood glucose using a glucometer, several times a day.

Treatment Goals:

Normalize blood sugar and avoid Diabetic complications.

Complications Related to Diabetes:

There are many life-threatening complications that are a direct result of uncontrolled blood sugar.

  • Diabetic Retinopathy - can cause blindness
  • Kidney Disease 
  • Heart Disease and Stroke 
  • Nerve Disease and Amputations 
  • Impotence

Related Topics


Other Diet and Disease Educational Support Materials:
Cancer  Diabetes  Heart Disease  Hypertension 
Osteoporosis  Phytochemicals



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last updated: 10/27/08
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