I hope you had a good week-end. I also hope that this diabetic sugar business is not interfering too much with your daily chores. As for me, I am back at my teaching and nutrition counseling. Today’s class is about “How to lose weight and prevent diabetes” but as I promised last week, I wanted to get back to you on the diabetic sugar subject before the day is over. So, now that my students are gone, I can take the time to write to you.
Every time we eat, the amount of sugar in the blood (glucose) rises. Body cells need glucose to produce the energy we need to grow and to perform our daily tasks. However, glucose cannot enter the cells by itself because cell membranes won’t open the door to glucose unless it comes escorted by insulin. Actually, glucose can enter the nerve and brain cells, but not the cells of the muscles, fatty tissues and liver.
As food is digested, a sophisticated mechanism in our body alerts the beta cells in the pancreas that there is glucose in the blood. Within seconds, the pancreas releases insulin to help glucose enter the cells. The average cell has tens of thousands of receptor sites on the inside and the outside of its membrane that act like the lock in a door. Because insulin acts like a key, it goes to the cell membrane and opens the many locks on the cell skin to let glucose in. Once insulin has opened the doors, it escorts glucose into the cells. Pretty amazing, isn’t it?
Glucose is cleared from the blood in a short time after insulin is released. In a person without diabetes, blood sugar levels before breakfast are normally 80-90 mg/dl (milligrams per deciliter). During the first hour after the meal, that number rises to 120-140 mg/dl. Blood sugar is back to normal within two hours after the body has absorbed the carbohydrates in the meal.
The problem with diabetes type 2
Although this is how it normally happens, not all the time the system works this smoothly. In the case of diabetes type 1, the beta cells are destroyed and secrete no insulin. With type 2 diabetes, the problems are different:
- The pancreas does not secrete enough insulin or
- The insulin produced does not work as well as it should, a condition called insulin resistance.
I don’t want to get you tired with too many technicalities about diabetic sugar at once, Susannah. I’ll talk to you tomorrow about insulin resistance.
Until then have a wonderful day
Emilia Klapp, RD, BS
Your Diabetes Coach