Nerves help orchestrate this digestive tour de force, says Bragg, by telling the muscles what to do. Uncontrolled diabetes, though, can damage the nerves, leading to some GI missteps. “It has to do with hyperglycemia [high blood glucose],” says Bragg. “We don’t know the exact mechanism.” We do know that blood glucose control can both prevent and improve GI dysfunction.

There is no cure for diabetes. It’s a chronic condition that must be managed for life. This seems odd, given all the modern medical technology we have at our disposal. We can insert heart pacemakers, perform liver transplants, even adapt to bionic limbs, but coming up with a replacement for the islets that produce insulin in the pancreas appears to be out of reach for now. There is something about the pancreas that makes it difficult to fix, which is part of the reason pancreatic cancer remains so deadly.


In patients with type 2 diabetes, stress, infection, and medications (such as corticosteroids) can also lead to severely elevated blood sugar levels. Accompanied by dehydration, severe blood sugar elevation in patients with type 2 diabetes can lead to an increase in blood osmolality (hyperosmolar state). This condition can worsen and lead to coma (hyperosmolar coma). A hyperosmolar coma usually occurs in elderly patients with type 2 diabetes. Like diabetic ketoacidosis, a hyperosmolar coma is a medical emergency. Immediate treatment with intravenous fluid and insulin is important in reversing the hyperosmolar state. Unlike patients with type 1 diabetes, patients with type 2 diabetes do not generally develop ketoacidosis solely on the basis of their diabetes. Since in general, type 2 diabetes occurs in an older population, concomitant medical conditions are more likely to be present, and these patients may actually be sicker overall. The complication and death rates from hyperosmolar coma is thus higher than in diabetic ketoacidosis.
Diabetes is a chronic, metabolic disease characterized by elevated levels of blood glucose (or blood sugar), which leads over time to serious damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves. The most common is type 2 diabetes, usually in adults, which occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin or doesn't make enough insulin. In the past three decades the prevalence of type 2 diabetes has risen dramatically in countries of all income levels. Type 1 diabetes, once known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin by itself. For people living with diabetes, access to affordable treatment, including insulin, is critical to their survival. There is a globally agreed target to halt the rise in diabetes and obesity by 2025.

Triglycerides are a common form of fat that we digest. Triglycerides are the main ingredient in animal fats and vegetable oils. Elevated levels of triglycerides are a risk factor for heart disease, heart attack, stroke, fatty liver disease, and pancreatitis. Elevated levels of triglycerides are also associated with diseases like diabetes, kidney disease, and medications (for example, diuretics, birth control pills, and beta blockers). Dietary changes, and medication if necessary can help lower triglyceride blood levels.
Other studies have found that people with pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes can go into remission through changes to their dietary and exercise habits. People who manage to achieve this with food alone will often express their excitement publicly by claiming they “cured” their diabetes with their diet. In reality, the likely put it into remission, though that remission can last a very long time.
In diabetes, either the pancreas makes insufficient levels of insulin so cells absorb glucose poorly or cells themselves become insulin resistant and thus unable to absorb glucose despite adequate insulin levels. Both types of change increase blood sugar levels above normal. Parsed this way, type I and type II diabetes overlap some but also differ.
Nerve damage from diabetes is called diabetic neuropathy and is also caused by disease of small blood vessels. In essence, the blood flow to the nerves is limited, leaving the nerves without blood flow, and they get damaged or die as a result (a term known as ischemia). Symptoms of diabetic nerve damage include numbness, burning, and aching of the feet and lower extremities. When the nerve disease causes a complete loss of sensation in the feet, patients may not be aware of injuries to the feet, and fail to properly protect them. Shoes or other protection should be worn as much as possible. Seemingly minor skin injuries should be attended to promptly to avoid serious infections. Because of poor blood circulation, diabetic foot injuries may not heal. Sometimes, minor foot injuries can lead to serious infection, ulcers, and even gangrene, necessitating surgical amputation of toes, feet, and other infected parts.
After breaking this down, Brand took questions from the audience. The first was from a person in the third row who said her brother is an addict who keeps coming to her for money. What should she do? Brand moved to the very front of the stage and looked into the back of her eyes and told her she knows what she has to do—which is cut him off, let him hit rock bottom. She said, yes, she knows, and she cried.
In the picture to the right you can see the lunch that I was unbelievably served at the 11th International Congress on Obesity in Stockholm 2010. This is a major international conference for obesity doctors and scientists. The food contains almost exclusively energy from sugar and starches, things that are broken down to simple sugars in the stomach.
Nerve damage in your feet can cause them to lose sensation. "So you may not realize that you scratched or cut your foot until much later," Sackheim says. As a result, you may develop a more serious problem, like an ulcer or infection. To avoid this, Sackheim says you should clean and examine your feet at the end of each day. "Also make sure that you wear comfortable shoes." Pairs that are too tight can pinch your feet and lead to injury.
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In type I diabetes, insufficient levels of insulin result from the immune system itself attacking the pancreatic beta cells. On the other hand, while beta cell dysfunction varies widely between type II diabetes patients, insulin resistance is a major part of the disease. Restoring the beta cells of the pancreas to health is the treatment approach these two diseases share to some degree.
Maryland company Orgenesis (ORGS) is developing a proprietary therapeutic platform that transforms adult liver cells into insulin-generating cells to provide patients with independent insulin production. Earlier this year, Orgenesis entered into a partnership with HekaBio K.K. to conduct clinical trials in Japan. The company appears to be moving into licensing the technology to other companies for further development.
Currently, people with diabetes who receive a transplanted pancreas (typically not possible unless you are also having a kidney transplant) or who receive islet-cell transplants as part of a research study in the US must take these drugs so that their own body won’t attack the new cells. The drugs work, but raise risk for bacterial and viral infections as well as for mouth sores, nausea, diarrhea, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, fatigue and even some cancers.

Diabetes is a disease that occurs when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high. Blood glucose is your main source of energy and comes from the food you eat. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps glucose from food get into your cells to be used for energy. Sometimes your body doesn’t make enough—or any—insulin or doesn’t use insulin well. Glucose then stays in your blood and doesn’t reach your cells.
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