Diabetes is a metabolic disorder due to loss of blood glucose homeostasis. Human body has to maintain the blood glucose level at a very narrow range, which is done with insulin and glucagon.
In the presence of insulin about two-thirds of the body’s cells absorb glucose from the blood for use as fuel, for conversion to other needed molecules, or for storage.
Insulin is also the principal control signal for conversion of excess glucose to glycogen for internal storage in liver and muscle cells.
Lowered glucose levels result both in the reduced release of insulin from the beta cells and in the reverse conversion of glycogen to glucose when glucose levels fall. If body does not produce or properly uses insulin, blood glucose is not utilized properly leading to loss of homeostasis in blood glucose. When blood sugar level is constantly high it leads to kidney failure, cardiovascular problems and neuropathy.
Patients with diabetes are 4 times more likely to have coronary heart disease and stroke. In addition, Gestational diabetes is more dangerous for pregnant women and their fetus.
Hypoglycemia (low glucose levels) when there are frequent episodes of hypoglycemia, an ignorance develops in the body to react to low blood glucose levels. Body stops releasing the hormone epinephrine and other stress hormones when blood glucose drops too low.
The loss of the body’s ability to release stress hormones after repeated episodes of hypoglycemia is called hypoglycemia-associated autonomic failure, or HAAF.
The increase in incidence of diabetes in developing countries follows the trend of urbanization and lifestyle changes, perhaps most importantly a “Western- style” diet. This has suggested an environmental (i.e., dietary) effect.