Whatever You Call It (Sugar/Carbohydrates/Glucose/ATP/Energy) We Need It!

December 14th, 2010 by Amy Gonsalves Leave a reply »

For someone with either type one or type two diabetes, how messed up is our digestion process?  At the basic levels, we share a missing proper function.

When we eat food, the body extracts carbohydrates from the food we ingest and break the carbohydrates down into glucose.  From the walls of our small intestines, the glucose goes one of three places.

  1. Into our bloodstream.  In our bloodstream, the glucose is immediately available to be converted into adenosine triphosphate (ATP).  ATP is what the body really uses as its actual source of energy.
  2. Into our skeletal muscle system.  In this form, glucose is converted into glycogen.  Glycogen is a long string of simple sugars stored as a complex sugar in our muscles.  As glycogen, the sugar can’t be released into our bloodstream but the glycogen can be used by our muscles to produce ATP. (various methods of endurance training teach our bodies how to perform this process more efficiently)
  3. Into our liver.  The liver stores glucose as glycogen.  When functioning properly, the pancreas produces one of two hormones that work in tandem with the liver to regulate blood sugar levels.  When the pancreas senses blood sugar is too low, it produces glucagen to stimulate the release of stored glycogen from the liver in the form of glucose into the bloodstream.  When a normal pancreas senses blood sugar is too high, it produces insulin to stimulate the liver to release less glucose.

Clearly, it is that third process that doesn’t work so well for those of us living with diabetes.  You can see our bodies are a maze of thousands of signals and communications and sensors and responses… it’s amazing that we even know this much!  Not to mention how losing a critical hormone production in our bodies and still being able to survive is simply amazing.

Lucky us.

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