Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Can people with Type1 diabetes seriously think about taking part in a major event such as the Olympics?

Type 1 diabetes is a condition in which the body is unable to produce insulin. Without insulin, the body's ability to use glucose as a fuel source is impaired. That does not mean that people with Type 1 diabetes have to give up their dreams of a successful sports career. Pakistani batsman and fast bowler Imran Khan and swimmer Gary Hall Jr. are just a few athletes with Type 1 diabetes who have competed at the highest level of demanding sports. With good management, it is possible to participate in sporting activities with this condition.

Why is insulin important?

Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas. It has a number of important functions in the body, including a regulatory effect on carbohydrate metabolism.
Insulin stimulates body cells to take up glucose and use it for fuel.
It inhibits the release of glucose from glycogen in the liver and stimulates the synthesis of muscle glycogen after exercise.

In the absence of diabetes, insulin is released according to the body's needs and the concentration of glucose in the blood is kept within a tight range.
People with Type 1 diabetes do not produce insulin and so the body is unable to use glucose properly as a fuel source and starts to rely on fat and protein as fuel. This causes blood glucose levels to rise excessively and toxic by-products from fat breakdown (ketones) to build up in the blood. . Therefore, regular insulin injections are needed to simulate what the pancreas would be doing if it could make insulin.

The amount and timing of insulin administration needs to be matched to factors such as food intake, individual metabolism and activity level.

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