What Is the Connection between Diabetes and Metabolic Disorders?

Brandon May

Metabolism is the chemical process the body uses to break down substances, such as nutrients and calories, from food and use them for energy and repair. A malfunction in normal metabolism that results in obesity and undesired weight gain is often categorized as a metabolic disorder. The most common symptom of a metabolic disorder is diabetes, when the body cannot metabolize, break down or use the energy from blood sugar effectively. Diabetes and metabolic disorders often go hand in hand, and are treated by many of the same methods, such as diet, exercise and insulin therapy.

Several abdominal organs, including the pancreas, which is associated with diabetes.
Several abdominal organs, including the pancreas, which is associated with diabetes.

The first link between diabetes and metabolic disorders is that individuals who suffer from either condition are often overweight and storing harmful fat around the midsection. When excess fat accumulates within the body, it is often the result of both excess calories combined with the inefficient use of those calories. If a meal consists of carbohydrates, the calories from those carbohydrates break down into glucose, which cells crave and thrive on for energy use. Being overweight, however, prevents this from happening, as excess fat prevents cells from responding to the hormone called insulin appropriately.

Insulin is a hormone that helps take glucose carbohydrates into the cells of the body to use for energy. In both diabetes and metabolic disorders, these cells respond abnormally to the effect of insulin and cannot take in this energy. Excess glucose, if not used for energy in the metabolism of cells, is stored as fat and continues to deepen insulin insensitivity and blood sugar instability. Many patients who suffer from diabetes and metabolic disorders often experience a lack of energy and motivation due to the ineffective use of energy derived from foods.

Since diabetes and metabolic disorders are strongly linked, mainly due to the fact that diabetes is often a symptom of a metabolic disorder, the treatments for both are quite similar. Diabetes patients, and often patients with a metabolic disorder, likely inject insulin into their bloodstream, before or after a meal, to increase the effectiveness of taking glucose into the cells. Exercise is also an important component in treating both disorders, as this helps decrease accumulated fat and increase the sensitivity of insulin to cells. Increasing fibrous carbohydrates, such as those from vegetables, can also result in slower blood sugar spikes, so an appropriate diet that avoids sugar and refined carbohydrates may be helpful to most patients.

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