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Diabetes and Fat Metabolism Medical Terminology

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Health Literacy, Diabetes and Medical Terminology

Knowledge and understanding of the medical terminology pertaining to diabetes mellitus, glucose metabolism and fat glucose metabolismmetabolism is an important aspect of health literacy. If you have diabetes it can aid in comprehending information about it and your health care.  Additionally, it can improve communication in health care.

Listed below are medical terms and definitions pertaining to some of the more common features and effects of diabetes. To augment your learning experience you can hear the medical pronunciation of the terms in bold font in the chronological order in which they appear. Just click the play button below.

Diabetes Mellitus Medical Terminology



Brittle – Is a descriptor of diabetic glycemic control denoting wide fluctuations in the blood glucose between high and low readings. The marked variations often occur within a 24-hour period. The term is more applicable to type 1 diabetes than to type 2 disease but can apply to both.

Carbohydrate – It is a food substance containing carbon, oxygen and hydrogen.  Carbohydrates composed of one sugar molecules are monosaccharides. Those composed of two sugar molecules are disaccharides. More complex ones formed by multiple sugar molecules linked together are polysaccharides.

Fatty acids – Are molecules that serve as the building blocks of triglycerides. One part of the structure consists of a chain of fat metabolismcarbon molecules. The opposite end is composed of oxygen, carbon and hydrogen molecules bound to form a special chemical structure.  

Glucosuria – Is the presence of excessive glucose in the urine.  Hyperglycemia is often but not always the cause.
Glycogen – Is a polysaccharide and is the main form of carbohydrate stored in the liver and muscle tissue of humans and animals.

Hypercholesterolemia – Is high blood cholesterol.   

Hyperglycemia – Is a higher-than-normal blood glucose level.

Hypertriglyceridemia – Is an excess of triglycerides in the blood.

Insulin resistance – Is a state of decreased responsiveness of fat, muscle and liver cells to the normal actions of insulin. It results in a decrease in glucose uptake by cells and increased glucose production by the liver. Both processes cause a rise in the blood glucose level. Additionally, its effect in fat tissue is the breakdown and release of triglycerides into the blood.

Lipids – Are the fat and fat like compounds in the body. The main ones are triglycerides, cholesterol and phospholipids. Cholesterol has some important beneficial functions. It plays a role in hormone production and digestion. Along with phospholipids, it is an important part of the structure of cells. Phospholipids and triglycerides are vital components of the structure of cell membranes. Triglycerides are also valuable sources of stored energy for cells.

Lipogenesis –It is the production of fat from simple sugars, namely glucose and fructose. The immediate product of the conversion is fatty acids.  The process then assembles fatty acids into triglycerides and packages them to form very low density lipoproteins (VLDLs). VLDLs then flow through the blood to heart, muscle and fat tissue. Heart and muscle tissues use the packaged fat for energy. The triglycerides in the VLDLs not used by heart and muscle cells are stored in fat tissue as a future source of energy.  Insulin stimulates this process. Glucagon inhibits it.

Lipolysis – It is the breaking down of lipids to release free fatty acids as a source of energy. It can involve lipids in the digestive tract obtained from the diet, those circulating in the blood, those stored in fat tissue, or lipids in the liver. Insulin inhibits this process. Glucagon stimulates it.

Lipoprotein – Is a molecule consisting of lipid combined with protein.  Lipids don’t travel through the blood alone. They must be bound to a protein which serves as a carrier.   fat metabolism

Lipoprotein lipase –Is an enzyme that promotes the cleavage of fatty acids from triglycerides so the fatty acids which are smaller can move into cells. In heart and muscle cells they serve as sources of energy. When they move into fat cells they undergo conversion back into triglycerides as a stored source of energy. Insulin activates lipoprotein lipase. Therefore, elevated triglyceride levels can be a consequence of diabetes mellitus.

Ketoacidosis – Is a state of accumulation of ketone bodies in tissues and fluids of the body along with resultant acidosis – the buildup of acid in the body. It can be life threatening. It is most commonly a complication of uncontrolled type 1 diabetes mellitus but can also occur with type 2 disease. In fact, since the mid-1990s the number of cases of ketoacidosis in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus has increased. Experts call it ketosis-prone type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Ketone body – Is any of the three ketones the body produces during the breakdown of fat as a source of energy. They are:

  • acetone
  • acetoacetic acid (acetyl acetate)
  • beta hydroxybutyric acid (beta hydroxybutyrate) 

Ketones – Are organic compounds formed by the body’s breakdown of fat as a source of energy. – Ketotic – adj.

Ketosis – Is the process of the body’s breaking down of fat as a source of energy along with the generation of ketones. It results in an accumulation of ketone bodies.

Osmotic diuresis – Is the excretion of excessive volumes of urine due to the presence of non-absorbable substances such as glucose in the tubules of the kidneys.

Polydipsia – Is the excretion of greater-than-normal amounts of urine. The increase is due to an increase in both the frequency of urination and the volume of urine excreted.

Polyphagia – Is excessive hunger and eating.

Polyuria – Is excessive thirst and drinking of fluid.

Starch – Is any of the group of polysaccharides produced by plants as the main carbohydrate stored energy reserve. Some examples are potatoes, corn and wheat.

Triglycerides – Is the major stored forms of fat in the body. A molecule of it consists of three molecules of fatty acid joined to the alcohol – glycerol.





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