Our body is made of different organ systems. And every organ in our body is made of millions of cells. The cell is the individual building block within the body. Each cell contains its own genetic information, and this genetic information directs the cell’s factories. The cell uses its factories to make new parts for each cell, and new cells.
The energy our cells must have to power their factories is glucose, commonly called the blood sugar. It is the gasoline that we must have for the cell’s motors.
Every sugar or carbohydrate that we eat, our body converts to glucose so that we may use it for energy. If we eat no carbohydrates, we convert protein to glucose. Our cells can survive for only a very short time on fat. We must have glucose.
Getting the glucose into the cell--INSULIN
In order to get the glucose from the blood stream, and into the cell, it must cross the cell membrane. In effect, we must pump it from the fuel tank (the blood stream), to the motor (within the cell), where it can be burned for energy. The hormone that turns on the fuel pump, pumping the glucose from the blood stream to the motor-of-the-cell, is insulin. Without insulin, the glucose stays in the blood stream, and the cell starves. The source of insulin is an organ behind the stomach, called the pancreas.
Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus
In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas is classically injured by a virus. The source of the insulin is thus cut off.
Without insulin, the glucose level in the bloodstream rises, and the cells starve.
Without glucose, the brain goes into a coma (diabetic coma), and dies.
If diagnosed in time, insulin shots can be given, and the patient lives.
Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus
Type 2 diabetes is an inherited genetic defect.
In type 2 diabetes, there is no shortage of insulin.
Patients who carry the gene for type 2 diabetes develop a resistance to the effect of insulin as they gain weight. Thus as they get heavier, it takes more and more insulin to keep their blood sugar normal.
The pancreas responds to this insulin resistance by ramping up production of insulin.
Eventually, the pancreas simply cannot make any more insulin.
Then as the patient develops more resistance to insulin, the blood glucose rises.
If the patient loses weight, the resistance lessens, and the glucose drops.
Alternatively, the patient can take a pill or an injection that makes them more sensitive to their own insulin (lessens the resistance).
There are pills that in effect squeeze the pancreas, forcing it to produce even more insulin.
And lastly, the patient can be given even more insulin, in the form of shots.