Diabetes – The Development of the Disease

Diabetes is a metabolic disease characterised by elevated blood glucose levels. It is the result of complete or partial insufficient insulin production in the body or the reduced sensitivity (resistance) of the body’s cells to insulin. In terms of the origin of the disease, its course and treatment, we distinguish between two types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2.

Type 1 diabetes usually occurs during childhood and in people under 40 due to the autoimmune or viral destruction of the pancreatic islet cells that produce insulin. This means a complete lack of insulin production and patients can only survive with regular insulin injections that are harmonised with food and physical activity.

Type 2 diabetes usually develops after the age of 40. It usually occurs due to excessive amounts of unbalanced food and a lack of physical activity and can mostly be managed without additional insulin – with a balanced diet both in terms of quantity and quality, sufficient physical activity and, if necessary, also with anti-diabetic medication. Poor eating habits and a lack of physical exercise have made type 2 diabetes, alongside excess body weight, a true global epidemic. The continually higher number of patients and the higher incidence among the younger population show that the living conditions for the development of this type of the disease are getting more favourable. An increasing number of people consume too much food and do not engage in sufficient physical activity that would spend the consumed energy. The energy surplus is inevitably stored as energy reserves, as fat, and increasing numbers of people are thus overweight. Excess weight means fat accumulation, which usually leads to the body’s cells becoming resistant to insulin and later also to insulin secretion disorders. Type 2 diabetes thus develops. It is still unclear why this disease does not affect all overweight people. With normal insulin secretion and normal insulin sensitivity, all body cells are able to accept glucose from the blood and to utilise it as the main source of energy for life processes and energy reserves. If body cells become resistant to insulin or if insulin is lacking, the reception and utilisation of glucose is impeded or, in the case of an absolute lack of insulin, even completely terminated. Brain cells, adrenal gland cells, red blood cells and intestinal mucosa cells do not require insulin for their activity.