Diabetic glossary

Acetone: One of the larger classes of chemicals called ketones.

Acidosis: An abnormal condition resulting from too high a level of acids in the blood (see Ketoacidosis).

Adrenaline: An important hormone in the body; also known as epinephrine. It prepares the body for emergencies by raising blood pressure, making breathing easier, speeding the heart rate, and increasing blood sugar. Adult onset diabetes: See maturity onset diabetes.

Albumin: A protein found in the blood.

Alcohol: is made from carbohydrates and is digested like a fat in the body. It provides about 7 calories per gram in its pure state. Beverages such as hard liquor, beer, and wine range in alcohol content from several percent to more than 50 percent.

Amino Acids: The basic building blocks of proteins, which link together in chains of varied lengths to produce an infinite variety of proteins. Scientists know of over 20different amino acids.

Arteriosclerosis: A general term that describes number of diseases of blood vessels, of which atherosclerosis is the most important to the diabetic.

Artery: A blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the other parts of the body. Vessels called veins return the blood to the heart.

Atherosclerosis: Characterized by hardening and thickening of the arteries due to an accumulation of fatty substances along the inside of the arterial walls. This reduces blood flow and raises blood pressure. Atherosclerosis can be a serious complication for a person with diabetes.

Asymptomatic: Without noticeable symptoms. Diabetes is an asymptomatic disease. For this reason persons with diabetes should not assume their condition is entirely stable simply be cause they feel well.

Beta Cells: Located in the pancreas and responsible for producing the body’s supply of insulin.

Blood Sugar: The level of glucose in the blood. Physicians can easily obtain the level from lab tests, and  diabetics can obtain an approximation through home testing.

Brittle: A term used to describe a type of diabetes that varies from good control to poor control and shows great fluctuations of sugar levels daily. Brittle diabetics find it very difficult to control their diabetes, and they show extreme reactions to changes in glucose and insulin levels in the bloodstream.

Brown sugar: A form of sucrose that contains some molasses, which is also a sugar.

Calorie: A unit used to express heat or energy obtained from food. About 3,500 calories are equivalent to one pound of body weight. Carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, (and alcohols) are all energy sources and thus provide calories. Nutrients such as vitamins and minerals do not provide calories, but without them the body cannot function well.

Carbohydrates: Sugars and starches that are made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Like protein, they provide 4 calories per gram.

Cardiovascular: An adjective revering to the heart and blood vessels.

Cholesterol: A fat like substance that is an essential component of human cells. Too much cholesterol in the blood will stick to artery walls, clog them, and lead to atherosclerosis.

Coma: A state of profound unconsciousness. In persons with diabetes, coma may result from hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia.

Confectioner’s Sugar: See sucrose.

Corn Sugar: A form of glucose made fro cornstarch, about half as sweet as sugar.

Corn Sweetener: A liquid sugar, which, like corn sugar, is derived from cornstarch.

Dehydration: A condition resulting from loss of body fluids. To avoid dehydration one must replace fluids by drinking more liquids at times of exercise, exertion, or sweating.

Dextrose: The commercial name for glucose.

Diabetes Insipidus: A disorder in which large amounts of urine are excreted. The urine is normal and sugar is not present as in diabetes mellitus. For further information on diabetes Insipidus, consult another source. This book concentrates on diabetes mellitus.

Diabetes Mellitus: A condition characterized by an excess of sugar in the blood and or urine. It develops due to the body’s inability to make appropriate use of ingested food as a result of insufficient availability of insulin. The term was derived from Greek words meaning passing through and sweet as honey. In this book diabetes mellitus is referred to simply as diabetes.

Diabetologist: A physician who specializes in treating patients with diabetes.

Diuretics: Drugs that act to increase urine output and lower the volume of water in the body.

Dulcitol: A sugar alcohol.

Edema: the swelling of tissues due to an accumulation of excess salt and water in the body.

Enzyme: Proteins that speed up or allow a chemical reaction in the body to take place.

Fat: One of the three main food energy sources; the other two are proteins and carbohydrates. Fat provides 9 calories per gram, more than double the caloric value of carbohydrates and proteins.

Fiber: Dietary fiber is the part of vegetables and grains that is not broken down by digestive juices in the intestine, as are other food elements. Fiber in the diet is considered important because it helps hold water in the intestine, adds bulk to stools, and softens them. It also helps regulate the time it takes for food waste to move through the body.

Food Exchange: Groups of foods that, in given portions, provide equal amounts of nutrients and calories.

Free foods: A food containing little or no calories that maybe used in limitless quantities by persons with diabetes.

Fructose: A natural sugar also known as fruit sugar or levulose. Fructose is sometimes almost twice as sweet as sucrose, or table sugar.

Galactose: A type of sugar found in lactose, or milk sugar.

Gestational diabetes: Diabetes that occurs during pregnancy. Often, diabetes manifests itself during pregnancy; sometimes it disappears after the pregnancy.

Glucagon: A hormone produced by the pancreas that raises the blood sugar level by causing the breakdown of glycogen (stored glucose).

Glucose: The form of sugar that the body uses for energy. It causes a rapid rise in the blood sugar, or blood glucose level. All starches eventually break down into glucose, as do all sugars.

Glucose syrups: Syrups that contain glucose and maltose and are made by breaking down starches.

Glucose tolerance test: A test commonly done in physicians’ offices as a part of a complete examination or specifically be cause diabetes is suspected. The test enables your physician to chart your blood’s glucose level over a several hour period. It involves taking a small specimen of blood from your arm. You usually drink a beverage containing glucose at the start of the testing period.

Glycemia: A general term meaning sugar in the blood. Hyperglycemia is a more specific term meaning too much sugar in the blood, while hypoglycemia denotes too little sugar in the blood.

Glycosuria: A term used to denote sugar in the urine. Sugar in the urine can be measured by both doctor and patient.

Glycogen: Excess glucose stored in muscles and the liver for future use.

Gram: A metric unit of mass and weight. There are 28.35 grams in an ounce and 453.6 grams in a pound.

Granulated sugar: A form of sucrose.

Honey: A natural syrup that comes from flowers from which bees collect nectar. It contains glucose, fructose, and water. While it has been touted as a more natural alternative to sugar, it is nevertheless converted to glucose in the body.

Hormone: Chemicals that are secreted by glands in the body and then travel through the bloodstream to affect various functions of the body.

Hyperglycemia: A high level of sugar in the bloodstream.

Hypoglycemia: Lowered blood sugar.

Insulin: The hormone produced by the beta cells of the pancreas. It acts to move glucose into the body’s cells. Either the diabetic does not produce enough insulin or his cells cannot use it properly.

Invert sugar: A form of sucrose.

Islets of Langerhans: Tiny cells making up a very small part of the pancreas. Their alpha cells produce Glucagon, and the beta cells produce insulin.

Juvenile diabetes: See insulin dependent diabetes.

Insulin dependent diabetes: Also known as juvenile diabetes. Patients require injections of insulin and a strict diet in order to control the disease.

Ketoacidosis: A sign of poor diabetic control in which toxic substances known a ketone bodies build up in the blood and cause it to become acidic. Ketoacidosis may induce diabetic coma.

Ketones: Bodies that form when there is a lack of insulin in the body and tissues begin to break down. Acetone, a ketone, has a distinct fruity smell, which is why diabetic’ s “acetone breath” may be attributed to poor control.

Ketonuria: The presence of ketones in the urine.

Lactose: A combination of two other sugars, glucose and Galactose; also known as milk sugar. Makes up about 4½ percent of cow’s milk.

Maltose: Made up of two glucose units linked together. It is made during the breakdown of starch.

Mannitol: A sugar alcohol that is absorbed slowly into the blood and causes less of a rise in blood sugar than either sucrose or glucose. Derived from the sugar mannose, Mannitol also acts as a laxative in large amounts.

Maple syrup: A syrup made from the sap of maple trees; mostly sucrose.

Maturity onset diabetes: Another term for non-insulin-dependent diabetes. Most diabetics have this type of diabetes.

Meal plan: An individual plan for a person with diabetes, which takes into account the person’s eating habits, among other factors, and prescribes a diet for the number and type of exchanges to be eaten at each meal. The meal plan provides a proper measure of the three energy yielding foods carbohydrates, proteins, and fats so that the person receives enough nutrients and calories.

Metabolism: The process by which the body breaks down and uses chemicals in food for energy and building blocks.

Molasses: Obtained from sugar; is made up of about one half to three fourths sugar.

Monounsaturated fat: Fats that are unlike both polyunsaturated and saturated fats because they neither lower nor raise blood cholesterol.

Neuropathy: A general term for any disease of the nerves.

Non insulin dependent diabetes: Also referred to as maturity onset diabetes. This type of diabetes does not require the person to take insulin injections to control the disease.

Obesity: A condition of being considerably overweight. Usually, anyone more than 20 percent overweight is considered obese.

Oral hypoglycemic agents: Drugs that can be taken orally in the form of pills to lower blood sugar and control diabetes. These pills do not, however, contain insulin, which is a protein and would break down under the chemicals in the mouth and digestive system.

Pancreas: A gland in the abdominal area, just behind the stomach. The gland houses the alpha and beta cells in the Islets of Langerhans, which make glucagon and insulin.

Polyunsaturated fat: Fats derived from vegetable sources. These fats lower the blood cholesterol level and are considered a favorable alternative to saturated fats, which raise the blood cholesterol level.

Polyuria: The condition of excessive urination.

Protein: A chain of amino acids. Proteins are used by the body for repair and growth. The enzymes that allow the body’s chemical reactions to take place and speed them up are also proteins. Proteins yield 4 calories per gram.

Retinopathy: A general term for the disease of the retina in the eye.

Saccharin: A noncaloric sweetener that is several hundred time sweeter than sugar.

Saturated fat: Fats derived from animal sources. These fat raise blood cholesterol, and physicians generally ask patients with diabetes or cardiovascular problems to avoid them.

Sorbitol: A sugar alcohol that is absorbed by the body more slowly than glucose. It usually causes less of a rise in blood sugar. In large amounts it may act as a laxative.

Starch: A long chain of sugars that does not usually taste sweet. Through digestion starches are broken down into sugars Examples of starches cereal, Potatoes, and pastas.

Sucrose: A natural sugar derived from sugar beets and sugar cane. Beet sugar, brown sugar, cane sugar, invert sugar, raw sugar, turbinado sugar, and table sugar are all other names for sucrose.

Sugar alcohol: Products made from sugars that are broken down and absorbed more slowly by the body. Sugar alcohol eventually become sugar. Sorbital, mannitol, and xylitol are all sugar alcohols.

Vascular: A term that refers to the blood vessels.

Vitamins: Substances which the body requires in small quantities for normal body functions. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are classified as fat soluble vitamins; vitamins C and B are classified as water soluble vitamins.

Xylitol: Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that can act as a laxative in large amounts.

NOTICE: The material on this site for informational use only and should not be taken as medical advice. This email does not constitute any doctor-patient relationship, or any other type of relationship. The material has been thoroughly researched and believed to be the most up to date information at time of publishing. This material is offered as information only and the reader has the responsibility to verify any medical decisions or actions with his or her health care team.

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