Diabetes is a chronic, degenerative disorder that causes serious heart damage, stroke, limb amputation, blindness, and kidney failure. Currently, it is the most frequent cause of non-traumatic lower limb amputation. In addition to being the fifth deadliest disease, it is also one of the costliest: 1 out of every 10 U.S. medical dollars is spent on diabetes, or roughly $132 billion annually. Diabetes is defined as a failure of the pancreas to produce adequate amounts of insulin, the hormone that helps convert glucose (sugar) into energy for the body to use.
When glucose is not converted into energy, it accumulates in the blood, causing high blood sugar levels that can severely damage the body’s major organs, eyes, and lower limbs. Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D., is a recognized expert on magnesium and discusses its role in diabetes in her book, The Magnesium Miracle. Dean states that magnesium enhances insulin secretion, facilitating sugar metabolism. Without magnesium, insulin is not able to transfer glucose into cells. Glucose and insulin build up in the blood, causing various types of tissue damage. This is often overlooked by doctors in determining the cause and treating patients with diabetes. There are several types of diabetes:
- Pre-diabetes. Often referred to as insulin resistance, this type of diabetes can precede type 2 diabetes and is characterized by the inability of cells to accept insulin. Insulin is like the key to the lock. In other words, insulin fails to unlock the mechanism in cells that turns glucose into energy. Plenty of insulin is produced by the pancreas, but the cells cannot accept the insulin, resulting in high blood sugar levels. Pre-diabetes is also one of the symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome, a metabolic disorder characterized by pre-diabetes, high triglyceride levels, high LDL (bad) cholesterol, and low HDL (good) cholesterol. Read more about Metabolic Syndrome (also known as Syndrome X).
- Type 1 diabetes. Also known as insulin-dependent or juvenile diabetes, this disorder is usually diagnosed in early childhood. The pancreas produces little to no insulin, requiring the need for insulin injections to control blood sugar levels. This type of diabetes is also considered a localized autoimmune disorder — which means that a person’s immune system mistakenly attacks a specific organ (in this case, the pancreas), causing significant damage.
- Type 2 diabetes. Also known as non-insulin dependent or adult-onset diabetes, this type of diabetes occurs later in life — although children are now being diagnosed more frequently at a much younger age. In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas is impaired and does not produce enough insulin to adequately control blood sugar levels. Oral medication — or insulin injections in more severe cases — is required to adequately control blood sugar levels.
- Gestational diabetes. For reasons that are largely unknown, this type of diabetes develops only during pregnancy. If left untreated, gestational diabetes can lead to the birth of a very large-sized newborn (sometimes 11 pounds or more at birth). Once the baby is delivered, this type of diabetes usually disappears in the mother, but puts her at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes in the future.
- Combination diabetes. More and more doctors are encountering patients that exhibit insulin resistance along with type 2 diabetes. In this case, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, and at the same time, the cells do not accept insulin. Magnesium deficiency plays a major role in cells not accepting insulin. Diet, nutritional supplementation, and exercise are crucial to combating these co-existing conditions.
Additional Information about Diabetes
- Common symptoms of diabetes
- Common causes of diabetes
- Natural and alternative treatments for diabetes
- Dietary and lifestyle recommendations that may help in the treatment of diabetes
- Conventional or prescription medications used in the treatment of diabetes
- Cited Sources and Additional Reading for diabetes