Diabetes and Metabolism: What is the Connection?

3 min read
Diabetes and Metabolism: What is the Connection?

Diabetes is a global problem causing disease affecting 60 million people across the globe.

It involves a group of diseases characterised mainly by hyperglycaemia. It is characterised by high blood sugar levels and the reasons may include endocrine diseases, liver diseases or drugs.

The metabolism of a diabetic person is different from a normal person.

Infact, metabolism of a type-1 diabetic person differs from that of a type-2 diabetic person. In type-1 diabetes, the insulin levels are very low whereas in type-2 diabetes, the effectiveness of insulin is found to be reduced.

While the type-1 diabetic patients require delivery of insulin from other methods, type-2 diabetes affects the body's ability to metabolise glucose.


What is Metabolism?

Metabolism refers to the sum total of all the controlled chemical reactions that occur inside a cell.

Research suggests that complete understanding of the process of metabolism can help us understand the origin of life itself.

Cellular metabolism includes hundreds of different cellular reactions, that is why the process of metabolism is categorised into two main type: Anabolic metabolism and catabolic metabolism.

Anabolic metabolism refers to the chemical reactions that join the molecules together to form the new ones whereas catabolic metabolism refers to the chemical reactions that breaks the molecules apart.

The process of metabolism helps to replace the worn out molecules or form new energy molecules that delivers energy throughout the body for different activities.

Metabolism in Type-1 Diabetes

The onset of type-1 diabetes (T1D) affects the protein metabolism of the body.

It is considered as an auto-immune disease which occurs as a result of loss of beta cells or dysfunctioning of beta cells.

The reduced levels of insulin results in increased expenditure of basal energy and low mitochondrial functioning. The increase in breakdown of proteins than protein synthesis which results in loss of protein. Protein breakdown mainly occurs in skeletal muscle and protein synthesis occurs in the splanchnic region.

In the absence of insulin, type-1 diabetes is a catabolic reaction which results in loss of protein mass and low energy levels. These patients have increased plasma glucose, low glucose levels in urine causing low energy, increased glucagon levels


People suffering from obesity have higher risks of type-2 diabetes

(Photo: iStockphoto)

Metabolism in Type-2 Diabetes

People who are overweight suffering from type-2 diabetes produce more insulin than non-diabetics. In type-2 diabetes, the body experiences insulin resistance, meaning that the body is unable to use its insulin effectively as a result of which it produces more insulin.

In the process of producing more insulin, the beta cells of the pancreas suffer from over functioning and begin to fail overtime.

Over-production of insulin increases the phenomenon of insulin resistance. This is similar to the phenomenon of drug addicts becoming tolerant to drugs.

Obesity is one of the major reason of type-2 diabetes. Obese people are more likely to suffer from metabolic syndrome which increases the risk of type-2 diabetes.

People suffering from obesity have higher risks of diabetes due to the higher levels free fatty acids, they are responsible for the production of more insulin, resulting in higher insulin resistance.

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