At healthy, optimal function, the pancreas should release enough insulin to maintain sugar levels at around 100 milligrams per deciliter of blood.
In people with Type II diabetes, the body is no longer able to use insulin properly because cells have become resistant to absorbing insulin. Most Type II diabetics take oral medication to help control blood sugar. 95 percent of diabetes cases involve Type II.
High blood sugar impacts the human body in several ways. While an individual with high blood sugar may not show symptoms at first, as blood sugar remains unregulated, its effects will begin to appear.
One of the first symptoms of high blood sugar is excessive urination. The body has too much sugar circulating in the blood stream and is trying to flush it out. The more someone urinates, the more dehydrated he or she will become.
This dehydration will cause intense thirst. A huge indicator of high blood sugar is the feeling that one can never get enough to drink.
When diabetes is uncontrolled, the body starts breaking down muscle tissue for fuel. This can prompt feelings of physical (and mental) weakness and exhaustion. You may sleep for twelve hours, and still wake up feeling tired.
Excess sugar in the bloodstream actually thickens the blood until it reaches a sticky, syrup-like consistency. It is very difficult for the heart to pump that thickened blood throughout the body, especially to small blood vessels.
Some of the smallest blood vessels are in some of the most important places – the brain, eyes, nerves, heart, and kidneys. Restricted blood flow to these organs can cause devastating effects over time.
Along with restricted blood flow, uncontrolled diabetes also reduces the amount of insulin in the blood stream, and eventually, decreases insulin delivery to the brain.
Studies have shown that reduced levels of insulin in the brain can directly stimulate cognitive decline and the potential development of Alzheimer’s. In addition, insulin resistance prevents effective flow of glucose for brain cells to use as fuel.
Excess sugar doesn’t just affect your pancreas, insulin, and blood sugar levels. It triggers elevations in blood pressure, cholesterol, and heart rate, as well. Consuming sugar also increases risk of heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and a host of other diabetes-related complications.
Sugar is an inflammatory substance. Prolonged inflammation in the body will compromise your immune system, your joints, not to mention, increasing your risk of heart disease and some forms of cancer.
Neuropathy, or nerve damage, can also occur when blood sugar remains too high for too long. Tingling, burning, or numbness can occur in the extremities, most commonly in the feet and legs. Eyesight can also be compromised, or in some cases lost completely, due to nerve damage.
Diabetic Ketoacidosis is one of the most serious results of prolonged elevated blood sugar. Ketoacidosis occurs when a buildup of ketones in your blood (due to high blood sugar) makes the blood too acidic. This can poison the body, causing coma and even death.
These complications are frightening, and for individuals who do not keep their blood sugar levels under control, they are a very real possibility. It’s so important to check your blood sugar regularly, take your medications correctly, and communicate openly and frequently with your healthcare team.
Physical activity, eating right, and managing stress are also crucial. With the right mindset, anything is possible – including healing diabetes and living your best health!