Diabetes Freedom is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas is no longer able to make insulin, or when the body cannot make good use of the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas, that acts like a key to let glucose from the food we eat pass from the blood stream into the cells in the body to produce energy. All carbohydrate foods are broken down into glucose in the blood. Insulin helps glucose get into the cells. Not being able to produce insulin or use it effectively leads to raised glucose levels in the blood (known as hyperglycaemia). Over the long-term high glucose levels are associated with damage to the body and failure of various organs and tissues.
Type 1 diabetes, previously known as juvenile diabetes, is the most severe form of the disease. About 5% of people who have diabetes have type 1 diabetes, or insulin-dependent diabetes. Type 1 diabetes has also been called juvenile diabetes because it usually develops in children and teenagers. But people of all ages can develop type 1 diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system attacks the insulin-producing islet cells in the pancreas. The islet cells sense glucose in the blood and produce the right amount of insulin to normalize blood sugars. This attack on the body's own cells is known as autoimmune disease. Scientists are not sure why the autoimmune attack happens. But once the insulin-producing cells are destroyed, a person can no longer produce their own insulin. Without insulin, there is no “key.” So, the sugar stays in the blood and builds up. As a result, the body’s cells starve. And, if left untreated, high blood sugar levels can damage eyes, kidneys, nerves, and the heart, and can also lead to coma and death.
Type 2 diabetes is increasing at the fastest rate. There are large numbers of people with silent, undiagnosed type 2 diabetes which may be damaging their bodies. An estimated 2 million Australians are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes and are already showing early signs of the condition. Type 2 diabetes is one of the major consequences of the obesity epidemic. The combination of massive changes to diet and the food supply, combined with massive changes to physical activity with more sedentary work and less activity, means most populations are seeing more type 2 diabetes. Genes also play a part with higher risk of type 2 diabetes in Chinese, South Asian, Indian, Pacific Islander and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations.