What happens within my body when I have diabetes?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
When you have diabetes—the disease that's associated with blood sugar and insulin malfunction in overweight people—you're essentially pickling yourself, basting yourself in fluid that has a high concentration of sugar.

Because our bodies are designed to run on a relatively low level of glucose, when we overeat and indulge in a sedentary lifestyle, we're unable to process the extra glucose—thus pickling ourselves in all the excess—and our metabolic system malfunctions.

When one of our systems, called the cannabinoid system, is turned on, hormones in the body block the ability of insulin to get muscle to use sugar, and we accumulate sugar in our bloodstream as our metabolism actually becomes less efficient.

Eventually, especially in people with family histories of type 2 diabetes (evidence of a genetic predisposition to the disease), our pancreatic beta cells, cells that produce insulin, can't keep up because of exhaustion after years of working against the relentless insulin resistance. And that's how we become diabetic.
You: Staying Young: The Owner's Manual for Extending Your Warranty

More About this Book

You: Staying Young: The Owner's Manual for Extending Your Warranty

International bestselling authors of YOU: The Owner's Manual and YOU: On a Diet give you all the tools and know-how to stay young and defy the ageing process. Drawing lively parallels between your...

Continue Learning about Diabetes


Diabetes mellitus (MEL-ih-tus), often referred to as diabetes, is characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels that result from the body’s inability to produce enough insulin and/or effectively utilize the insulin. Diabetes ...

is a serious, life-long condition and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Diabetes is a disorder of metabolism (the body's way of digesting food and converting it into energy). There are three forms of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that accounts for five- to 10-percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes may account for 90- to 95-percent of all diagnosed cases. The third type of diabetes occurs in pregnancy and is referred to as gestational diabetes. Left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause health issues for pregnant women and their babies. People with diabetes can take preventive steps to control this disease and decrease the risk of further complications.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.