Diabetes mellitus is a chronic disorder of carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism characterized by elevations of blood sugar (glucose) levels and a greatly increased risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, retinopathy, and loss of nerve function. Diabetes can occur when the pancreas does not secrete enough insulin or when the cells of the body become resistant to insulin. In either case, the blood sugar cannot get into the cells for storage, which then leads to serious complications.
The classic symptoms of type 1 diabetes are frequent urination, excessive thirst, and excessive appetite. In type 2 diabetes, these symptoms may also be present but are usually much milder than in type 1. When symptoms are mild, many people do not seek medical care. In fact, of the more than ten million Americans with diabetes, fewer than half know they have it.
Although the exact cause of type 1 diabetes is unknown, current theory suggests an autoimmune process leads to the destruction of the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Antibodies for beta cells are present in 75% of all cases of type 1 diabetes, compared to 0.5 to 2 percent of nondiabetics. The antibodies to the beta cells appear to develop in response to cell destruction due to other mechanisms (chemicals, free radicals, viruses, food allergies, etc.)
¹The Pill Book Guide to Natural Medicines, Michael Murray N.D., 2002
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