The Lowdown on Diabetes


By Elysia Windrum

The animations below depict how diabetes affects a person’s bloodstream; the animations compare the bloodstreams of a person with Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes, and a healthy body.

What is Type 1 diabetes?

Type 1 Diabetes from Sweet Epidemic on Vimeo.

  • In Type 1 diabetes, the body is unable to produce enough insulin, a hormone produced by cells in the pancreas. Insulin is needed to move blood sugar (glucose) into cells for energy use.
  • Glucose is necessary to provide a person’s body with energy.
  • This inability to move blood sugar into cells results in a high build-up of glucose in the bloodstream called hyperglycemia.
  • Normal blood sugar levels range from about 70 to 140 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter).
  • However, a diabetic person can experience either a drop or rise in blood sugar beyond healthy levels, which can affect mental and physical functions.
  • Type 1 diabetes is thought to be an autoimmune disease where the body mistakenly attacks the pancreatic cells that make insulin.
  • Formerly known as juvenile diabetes, Type 1 diabetes is most often diagnosed in children and young adults. It can be passed down in families.
  • Type 1 diabetes develops quickly (in weeks and even days) as the pancreas stops producing insulin.
  • It can be treated with insulin injections and a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Information gathered from the U.S. National Library of Medicine

What is Type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 Diabetes from Sweet Epidemic on Vimeo.

  • Type 2 diabetes, or adult-onset diabetes, is the most common form of diabetes; around 90 percent of diabetics are diagnosed with this type.
  • It tends to occur in overweight or obese adults, who live an unhealthy lifestyle.
  • It is often diagnosed at mid age.
  • In Type 2 diabetes, the body either does not produce enough insulin or the body’s cells become insulin resistant, meaning the cells ignore the insulin the body produces.
  • Some people can be genetically predisposed to developing Type 2 diabetes.
  • It is more common in certain ethnic groups such as those of African, Native American, Hispanic, and Pacific Island decent.

Information gathered from the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

What happens in Type 2 diabetes?

Although people with Type 2 diabetes can produce insulin (unlike those with Type 1 diabetes), their muscle and fat cells are unable to use it properly. This often occurs in the obese because excess fat prevents a person’s body from properly using insulin. Additionally, the pancreas has difficulty producing more insulin to counter the insulin resistance. Because people with Type 2 diabetes still produce insulin, the disease and its symptoms tend to develop gradually, unlike in Type 1 diabetes. Many overweight individuals are unaware that they are at risk of developing or have already developed the disease.

This is how a healthy person’s bloodstream should function:

A Healthy Body from Sweet Epidemic on Vimeo.


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