What Is Diabetes?

Published: 2021-06-25
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Diabetes is rapidly growing epidemic with a prevalence rate of 8.5% among the adult population worldwide of 18 years and above (World Health Organization n.p.). According to the World Health Organization (n.p.) 2014 estimates, more than 400 million people globally have diabetes. The World Health Organization has also predicted that diabetes will be the seventh cause of death in 2030 (World Health Organization n.p.).

Diabetes is a disease that develops as a result of elevated blood glucose levels, the primary source of energy that is derived mainly from carbohydrates. Insulin, produced by the pancreas, helps in the regulation of blood glucose levels. It instructs the cells to absorb glucose from the blood. If there is inadequate insulin in the body or if the body is unable to adequately respond to insulin, a disease known as diabetes develops. Apart from regulating blood sugar levels, insulin helps in the storage of fat.

In the homeostatic process of blood sugar regulation, insulin sends signals to the liver and fat cells to absorb glucose from the blood. Therefore, this hormone enables the cell to take in glucose used to produce energy in the process of respiration. If the body has adequate energy, insulin signals the liver to absorb glucose and store it as glycogen. Even though some body cells can absorb glucose from the blood in the absence of insulin, most of them need the presence of insulin. When the body cannot produce enough insulin or is not capable of using insulin well, glucose accumulates in the blood and does not reach the cells. There are three types of diabetes: gestational, type 1 (T1D), and type 2 diabetes (T2D). Diabetes has been linked to genetic and dietary factors such as overconsumption of sugary drinks, such as Coca-Cola. This condition can be prevented through dietary and lifestyle changes, such as through healthy diets, physical exercise, and medication.

Types of diabetes

Gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes occurs in some women during pregnancy. It usually disappears after the birth of the baby. However, gestational diabetes has been reported to increase the risk of developing T2D later in life (National Health Service n.p.). Factors associated with increased risk of gestational diabetes include body mass index (BMI) of over 30, the presence of the condition among family members, the presence of the condition in previous pregnancies, and a baby weight of 4.5kg or more in a previous birth. Even though gestational diabetes does not usually have symptoms, some symptoms can develop in instances of hyperglycemia. These symptoms include elevated thirst, increased frequency of urination, dryness of mouth, and fatigue.

Type 1 diabetes

T1D is a chronic condition characterized by the production of little or no insulin by the pancreas. The etiology of T1D is unknown but has been linked to genetic factors and exposure to the certain virus (Mayo Clinic n.p.). In most individuals with T1D, the bodys own immune mechanism which is usually involved in eliminating pathogens (especially bacteria and viruses) wrongly destroy islet cells of the pancreas. As a result, the production of insulin stops. This type of diabetes usually occur during childhood and adolescence, hence sometimes known as juvenile diabetes. Currently, no cure for T1D but is manageable through proper treatment. Clinical manifestations of T1D include increased frequency of urination, increased thirst, elevated hunger, fatigue and body weakness, bedwetting in children who never had bedwetting problems before, blurred vision, unintentional weight loss, mood changes, and vaginal yeast infection in women. Management of T1D involves a proper balance of insulin doses through insulin injections several times a day or continuous infusion via a pump. In addition to insulin doses, an individual with T1D is required to eat several times during the day and night. They are also needed to regularly check their blood glucose level more than six times a day by pricking their fingers for blood (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation n.p.).

Type 2 diabetes

T2D is a metabolic condition that causes excessive accumulation of sugar in the bloodstream. Its severity varies in affected individuals. In some people, minor lifestyle changes after being diagnosed can be helpful in its management. In others, just shedding a little weight and getting involved in physical exercise is enough to manage the condition. In severe T2D, management of the disease is done through insulin injection. Unlike T1D, T2D occurs in adulthood. In T2D, there is a difficulty of absorption and use of insulin by the body cells. Its prevalence is higher than that of T1D, with 90% of individuals having diabetes diagnosed with T2D (National Health Service n.p.). If T2D is left untreated, blood sugar levels remain elevated permanently. High blood sugar level leads to symptoms such as frequent urination, fatigue, nausea, thirstiness, and dizziness. In individuals with hyperglycemia, T2D is manifested by confusion, drowsiness, and loss of consciousness. T2D develops when insulin produced by the pancreas does not have an effect on the body's tissue and cells, a condition referred to as insulin resistance. Some of the risk factors associated with T2D include overweight, smoking, lack of physical exercise, genetics, and dietary factors such as excessive intake of high-fat, low fiber, and sugary diet (National Health Service n.p.)

Coca-Cola and diabetes

Overconsumption of sugary or artificially sweetened soft drinks has been associated with increased risk of diabetes. In a case-control study carried out to determine whether intake of sweetened drinks was related to diabetes, researchers found out that that drinking more than two sugary or artificially sweetened soft drinks was linked with increased risk of diabetes. Specifically, intake of more than two servings of sugary drinks per day was found to double the risk of T2D in consumers. Moreover, consumption of more than five soft drinks a day was reported to increase the risk of T2D by more than ten times (The Guardian n.p.). In the same study, soft drinks were also found to increase the risk of latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA). The sample for the study consisted of 1,136 individuals with T2D, 357 subjects with LADA, and 1,371 participants without diabetes (The Guardian n.p.). All the participants were Swedish. More than two-thirds of the participants pointed out that they consumed sweetened drinks. Intake of sugary drinks was also found to be related to higher body mass index (BMI), sedentary lifestyle, smoking, and consumption of processed meat and sugary foods. The researchers concluded that overconsumption of soft drinks, such as Coca-Cola increases the risk of both T2D and LADA by influencing glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity (The Guardian n.p.).

Prevention of diabetes

Prevention of diabetes involves different strategies. First, diabetes can be prevented through dietary changes. To prevent diabetes, an individual needs to cut down the consumption of sugary drinks and saturated fats. Diets that are effective in the prevention of diabetes are non-carbohydrates because they do not stimulate the production of a lot of insulin. Therefore, reduction of carbohydrate consumption can be an effective way of reducing the risk of diabetes. Other diets which have been reported to lower the risk of developing diabetes include balanced diets of whole grains, low-fat milk, brown rice, fruits and vegetables, and diets low in processed foods (Diabetes n.p.).

Another way of preventing T2D is through physical exercise. There are several ways in which exercise prevents T2D. First, during exercise, muscles spend glycogen, excess sugar stored in the liver and the muscles. Second, after completion of the exercise, the muscles replaces the sugar used by absorbing sugar from the blood. This aids in decreasing blood sugar levels and enhances insulin sensitivity. Moreover, constant physical exercise and a healthy diet can lower the risk of developing T2D. Third, T2D can be prevented through medication. Specifically, T2D can be avoided through medications such as metformin in individuals with the highest risk of developing the condition. It is worth noting that no prevention methods for T1D currently exist. However, researchers are currently carrying out studies on the potential prevention of T1D avoidance of cow's milk, and intake of gluten-free diets (Diabetes n.p.).


Diabetes is a growing problem worldwide. It is mainly attributed to lifestyle factors, such as poor diet. Three types of diabetes have been identified: gestational, type 1, and type 2 diabetes. The risk factors for diabetes include genetic and dietary factors. Diabetes can be avoided through dietary and lifestyle changes, such as through healthy diets, physical exercise, and medication.

Works Cited

Diabetes. "Prevention Of Diabetes And Pre-Diabetes." Diabetes.Co.Uk, 2017, http://www.diabetes.co.uk/diabetes-prevention/.

Diabetes. Prevention of Diabetes Mellitus. Diabetes.co.uk, 2017, www.diabetes.co.uk/diabetes-prevention/. Accessed 3 May 2017.

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. "Type 1 Diabetes Facts JDRF." JDRF, 2017, http://www.jdrf.org/about/fact-sheets/type-1-diabetes-facts/. Accessed 3 May 2017.

Mayo Clinic. "Type 1 Diabetes ." Mayoclinic.org, 2014, http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/type-1-diabetes/basics/definition/con-20019573. Accessed 3 May 2017.

National Health Service. "Gestational Diabetes - NHS Choices." Nhs.uk, 2016, http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/gestational-diabetes/Pages/Introduction.aspx. Accessed 3 May 2017.

National Health Service. "Type 2 Diabetes: Overview." PubMed Health, 2014, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0072693/. Accessed 3 May 2017.

The Guardian. "More Than Two Sugary Drinks A Day Greatly Increases Diabetes Risk, Study Shows." The Guardian, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/oct/21/sugary-soft-drinks-increases-diabetes-risk-study-autoimmune. Accessed 3 May 2017.

World Health Organization."Diabetes." World Health Organization, 2016, http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs312/en/.

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