All living organisms need food to survive. Food provides energy for all the body functions and the manufacture of cells. The food we eat is digested into nutrients using physical and chemical processes. The body can then absorb the nutrients into the blood stream. (BBC 2011) Sugar and fats are broken down into energy using enzymes such as amylase in the stomach. Protein in food breaks down into amino acids which are used to build muscles and form the building blocks of other cells. (Bill Indge 2005)
Nutrients are obtained through food. The food we eat can be split into 6 distinct food groups. (Diabetes 2012) These food groups are Carbohydrates, Proteins, Fats, Vitamins, Minerals and Water. Although all nutrients are essential for the body to function only a certain volume of each are needed. Excess in any of these can lead to problems. (W.H.O 2013) Maintaing a balance of these food groups in our diet provide what is known as a balanced diet.
If a diet is not balanced and the body is receiving too much or too little of specific nutrients medical conditions can appear. Too much of a particular fat in your diet ca lead to heart problems, or a deficiency disease such as Scurvy caused by lack of vitamin C leads to weakness, gum disease and skin hemorrhage.
Diabetes is a condition where the amount of glucose in your blood is too high. The body cannot use it properly and this effects about 4 million people in the UK. (Diabetes 2010)
Carbohydrates break down into glucose and originate from different kinds of foods, bread, potatoes, dairy products, sugar. They are broken down into glucose chemically by enzymes in the digestive system. (Bill Indge 2005) Glucose is needed for energy and once absorbed from the gut moves via the blood stream to the parts of the body that require energy. Detecting the rise in blood glucose levels the body will respond by telling the pancreas to release a hormone called insulin.
The presence of Insulin is essential for the uptake of glucose from the blood stream into cells, where its needed. Insulin acts as a “key” opening up the pathway for glucose to pass through removing the glucose from the blood stream. When glucose levels in the blood lower and cells around the body need more glucose they inform the liver who will respond by realizing stored glucose into the blood stream.
The human body functions best at an optimum blood glucose level of around 4 - 7 mmol/1 however this will vary depending on meal times and a person’s weight. (Brewer 2005) The body will use its food intake and Insulin production as a way to control the amount of glucose in the blood. More food leads to more glucose and more insulin leads to more glucose used up. Diabetes is a condition when the Insulin cycle is not functioning properly. (Diabetes 2012)
Out of the 4 million people in the UK with diabetes about 15% are effected with the Type 1 condition. (Diabetes 2010) Type 1 diabetes is when no Insulin is produced by the pancreases. An auto immune response destroys the cells in the pancreas that produce Insulin. Generally found in white people under 40 and most common in children. Research studies have shown Type 1 diabetes is more prevalent in black or south asian individuals at a younger age of 25 and below, still impacting children the most. (T Lipman 2006)
Glucose enters the blood from the digestive system and the body sends signals to the pancreas to release Insulin. Type 1 diabetes sufferers have no Insulin to be released and so the glucose remains in the blood and cannot enter the cells. Blood glucose levels remain high, while cells (who are not getting any of the glucose) continue to send messages to the liver to release stored glucose into the blood, increasing levels further.
The ultimate effect is that the body is not getting the glucose it needs to make energy and so a sufferer remains very tired no matter how much energy they put into there system. The body tries