Metabolism refers to the bodily process of extracting energy from food. Diabetes affects metabolism by reducing insulin levels. This in turn prevents the body from storing the energy it gets from food for later use.
In type 1 diabetes, this happens because the immune system is attacking the cells that make insulin, which are in the pancreas. In type 2 diabetes, the body stops responding to insulin as well as it should.
What is metabolism?
Metabolism is the process through which the body creates energyTrusted Source from the food and drink a person consumes.
There are three main waysTrusted Source that the body uses up energy:
- Resting energy expenditure: This refers to the energy the body uses at rest. It is similar to the basal metabolic rate (BMR), which is the energy the body needs for its most basic and essential functions, such as breathing.
- Diet-induced energy expenditure: This refers to the energy a person uses for digestion. Another term for it is the thermic effect of food.
- Activity-induced energy expenditure: This refers to the energy someone uses for physical activity. The more active a person is, the higher the energy expenditure.
People who have slow metabolisms typically have a low BMR. This means they require fewer calories at rest than someone with a faster metabolism, or a high BMR.
There are many factors that can raise or lower BMR, including:
- muscle mass
- bone size and density
- body fat
- age, as muscle mass tends to decrease as people get older
How does diabetes affect metabolism?
Diabetes is a metabolic disorder, which means it directly impairs the body’s ability to release and store energy from food. This happens due to problems with insulin production.
When a person eats carbohydrates, the body begins to break them down into their simplest form, which is glucose. This glucose then enters the bloodstream, delivering energy to cells around the body.
Usually, if blood glucose levels are too high, the pancreas releases insulin. This hormone tells the liver to remove glucose from the blood and turn it into glycogen, which the body can use later.
However, in people with diabetes, insulin levels become lower than they need to be. This leaves high levels of glucose in the blood, which can lead toTrusted Source serious consequences if left untreated.
There are two main types of diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes
In type 1 diabetes, a person has very low or absentTrusted Source insulin levels. This occurs because the immune system mistakenly attacks the cells in the pancreas that make it. As a result, people with type 1 diabetes need insulin injections throughout their lives.
Individuals usually receive a type 1 diabetes diagnosis in childhood or when they are young adults. It accounts for 5–10%Trusted Source of all cases of diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes
In people with type 2 diabetes, the body stops responding as well to insulin, leading to high blood glucose levels. Over time, the pancreas produces increasing amounts of insulin to try to keep up.
This creates a deficit, where the body does not have the capacity to deal with the amount of glucose in the blood. Eventually, the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin wear outTrusted Source.
Type 2 diabetes is far more common than type 1 and accounts for 90%Trusted Source of all cases of diabetes.