What is Diabetes?
A car needs fuel in order to work. Our body also needs fuel to work properly. Some fuel comes from sugars and starches. Our body makes insulin to process the sugar in the foods that we eat so that they can become usable fuel. Insulin is a hormone that helps our body transform food and sugar to help us grow and to have energy.
A person has diabetes when the body does not make enough insulin. When this happens, the sugar in our blood increases and creates a hardship on the body's engine. When a person's blood sugar becomes high, he or she becomes very thirsty, may not be able to see well or think clearly and may feel very hungry or tired.
Once a person learns that he or she has diabetes, they need to monitor their blood sugar throughout their life. Usually they use a small machine that measures the blood sugar level from a drop of blood from their finger. If they find the level of blood sugar is high, they may need to take extra insulin to return the level to normal.
Some people who have diabetes may be able to take a pill that helps the body produce more insulin. Other people may not have that ability and then need to inject insulin. Our body's digestive juices and enzymes destroy insulin, so when a person needs more insulin, it has to enter the body through a needle with an injection. Some people with diabetes give themselves insulin shots at least once every day. Others have devices that are inserted or implanted under their skin and dispense insulin on a certain schedule. The goal is to keep the blood sugar or glucose at a stable level as close to normal as possible.
All people, and especially those who have diabetes, need to eat high fiber foods such as vegetables, grains, and fruits. They need to avoid eating foods high in fat, sugar and salt. It is also important for diabetics to exercise and maintain a normal weight.
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