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How Diabetes Affects The Body’s Power Plant Diabetes is an illness that stems from damage to the pancreas, a large organ lying behind the stomach. The pancreas comprises a number of different types of cells, some of which are grouped in clusters known as islets of Langerhans. Within in the islets are found both beta cells, which produce insulin, and alpha cells, which produce glucagon. Both insulin and glucagon are instrumental in he body’s conversion of food into energy that the body can burn and proteins that the body can use to build tissue. Juvenile diabetes, which normally develops early in life, results from near-total destruction of the eta cells in the pancreas. Adult-onset diabetes, which develops later, involves damage to some of the cells. In the case of juvenile diabetes, the body is without any insulin and dependent on injections of insulin for survival; for that reason, juvenile diabetes is often called “insulin-dependent” diabetes. Victims of adultonset diabetes normally produce enough insulin to get by, and do not need injections. Normally, the pancreas produces insulin when food is consumed The body uses three types of food fuels: carbohydrates, proteins and fats. These are broken down by the stomach and intestines into glucose, amino acids and fatty acids respectively. Arrival of these substances in the bloodstream triggers release of insulin from the pancreas. Insulin helps produce food Normally, insulin enables the body’s tissues and organs to use he food substances in the bloodstream. Insulin helps turn glucose into glucogen, for storage in the liver; fats into fatty acids, for energy of storage in adipose cells throughout the body; and amino acids into building blocks of tissue in muscles and other organs. Without insulin, boy tissues starve When insulin is absent, the foods in the blood are not converted normally into energy and new tissue. The body is deprived of nourishment. The condition can be fatal or cause critical damage to individual organs.