By Dr. Sankar Nath Jha, Endocrinology
You pass by the cake shop and happen to glance at a sumptuous chocolate cake, and then realization dawns on you that you are not allowed to eat simple sugar. Why? The answer to it is diabetes, for which you only have your pancreas to blame. Situated behind the stomach in your body, the pancreas is an organ whose role is to produce hormones and enzymes that aid in the digestive process. One of the hormones that the pancreas produces is insulin which is required by the body to metabolize sugar that is present in various foods.
So, if your pancreas does not produce the required amount of insulin or fails to utilize insulin effectively, it leads to accumulation of glucose in your blood. The improper functioning of the pancreas leads to diabetes. There are four types of diabetes and they are classified with respect to the manner in which the pancreas mal-functions:
- Type 1 Diabetes: In this type, the immune system of the body wrongly attacks the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas. This impairs the ability of the pancreas to secrete insulin, thus leading to Type 1 diabetes. However, even after extensive research in this field, the exact triggers haven’t been found yet.
- Type 2 Diabetes: Type 2 Diabetes develops when the body becomes resistant to insulin. It can either mean that the pancreas is producing less than normal insulin or the body is not being able to utilize the produced insulin effectively. Factors such as a poor diet and lack of exercise increase the risks of Type 2 Diabetes.
- Pre-diabetes: Pre-diabetes is a condition wherein the blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be considered as ‘diabetes’. It can again occur due to a reduced secretion of insulin or the inability of the body to utilize the insulin effectively.
- Gestational Diabetes: This type of diabetes can develop only during pregnancy. This occurs primarily as the placenta, that connects the fetus with the body’s blood supply, produces hormones that impair the functioning of insulin. This type of diabetes can affect both the mother and the child.
Another common link-
Pancreatitis is a condition that is marked by an inflammation of the pancreatic cells. This inflammation can damage the beta cells that produce insulin, thus resulting in diabetes. Factors that contribute to it are a poor diet, lack of exercise, presence of excessive calcium in the blood or excessive alcohol consumption.
Diabetes is also known to increase the risks of pancreatic cancer, especially if you have been suffering from this condition for more than 5 years. Pancreatic cancer and Type 2 diabetes share a few similar triggers such as a poor diet, obesity and lack of physical activity.
How can you avoid the same?
It is best that you incorporate lifestyle changes if you have any of these disorders, and talk to your doctor about a treatment plan. Making a few simple lifestyle changes such as eating healthy, avoiding smoking and exercising on a regular basis can reduce the chances of you suffering from both diabetes and any other pancreatic problems.