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What Are the Effects of Diabetes on the Metabolism?

A Type 1 diabetes diet aims to regulate blood glucose levels.
Article Details
  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 19 August 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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While many people don’t think that Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes has much impact on the metabolism, the fact is that this type of health condition can and does make a difference in how quickly the body is able to create and use energy. The effect of diabetes on the metabolism is to slow down that process, making it more likely that the individual will gain weight as the body stores more fat. For this reason, diabetics need to be mindful of what foods are included in their diets, not only to avoid excessive amounts of carbohydrates, but to also help the body manufacture fuel that is actually used rather than stored.

One way to understand the effects of diabetes on the metabolism is to think in terms of what normally happens when food is consumed. The body quickly absorbs the nutrients, breaks down the carbohydrates and provides fuel to every organ, making it possible to feel energized and ready to take on any type of activity. As the individual engages in various activities that work each muscle group, that energy is slowly consumed, without any conversion to fat and storage around the body. With anyone suffering with diabetes, especially Type 2 diabetes, this mechanism does not work efficiently and the body has a greater disposition to store fat. At the same time, the body has more trouble metabolizing fat when there is a need for energy.

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This means that one of the most common effects of diabetes on the metabolism is that it slows the consumption of fat for energy, even as it promotes the creation and storage of fat in the body. By choosing to consume foods that are higher in simple carbohydrates, blood glucose levels are higher for longer periods of time. Not only can this create additional stress on organs like the liver and the eyes, it also creates the ideal circumstances for the accelerated creation and storage of fat.

In order to minimize the effects of diabetes on the metabolism, it is important for diabetics to combine a low carbohydrate diet with regular exercise. This is true even if the patient is taking oral medication or insulin injections to manage blood sugar levels. A diet that eliminates simple carbohydrates and limits the consumption of complex carbohydrates means that the body can still have what it needs to produce energy, but has less to convert and store as fat. At the same time, exercise helps stimulate the metabolism and aids in processing any converting some of the stored fat into energy that in turn is consumed during activities like walking, biking, swimming, and other type of exercise that is sustained for thirty minutes or more. A physician and professional dietitian can help a diabetic patient develop a workable diet, as well as design an exercise program that is right for the patient’s current level of fitness, helping to offset the effects of diabetes on the metabolism.

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