Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where for whatever reason, the body’s immune system has turned on itself and is destroying some of its cells. In the case of Type 1, specific cells found in the pancreas known as Beta cells (B cells) are destroyed. B cells produce insulin, which the body uses to deliver glucose to the body’s cells.
This type of diabetes was previously referred to as “Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus” (IDDM) or “Juvenile Diabetes” because the majority of cases are in children.
Most affected people are otherwise healthy and of a healthy weight when onset occurs.
About 10% of people with diabetes have this less common form of diabetes.
Type 1 is more common in people descended from northern European countries and is less common in those from the Middle East, or Asia.
Type 1 diabetes is NOT caused by obesity or weight gain. Excess body fat is dangerous for anyone with diabetes, but it is especially dangerous for the Type 1 diabetic.
Sensitivity and responsiveness to insulin are usually normal, especially in the early stages.
Symptoms may develop rapidly (weeks or months) in Type 1 diabetes.
Traditional medicine treats Type 1 diabetes with lifestyle changes (diet, exercise, weight loss, stop smoking, quality rest), medications (pills), and with insulin (injections).
NOTE: Be aware that medications and insulin can cause the dangerous reverse effect of low blood sugar and have many other side effects.
People with mild Type 1 diabetes, where the pancreas is still producing some amounts of insulin, may be able to recover to normal blood sugar levels. It is possible to flood the body with micronutrients and fortify the immune system. This may give the pancreas a chance to rest and recover before it is too late and insulin production stops completely. They should minimize insulin, drugs, and therapies that increase levels of insulin and maximize lifestyle changes to restore the pancreas to normal insulin production.
Many Type 1 diabetics can never entirely avoid the need to take insulin because the pancreas is no longer producing insulin. However, it is possible to greatly reduce the amount of insulin needed in a healthy diabetic diet. A diabetic diet can also save a Type 1 diabetic from serious health complications later in life.
More than one-third of Type 1 diabetics die before the age of 50, but this does not have to be the case. Type 1 diabetics can live a healthy, normal, and longer than average life. By adopting a high-nutrient diabetic diet, they can lower insulin needs and no longer have extreme and life-threatening high and low swings in blood glucose levels.
Various factors may contribute to Type 1 diabetes, including genetics and exposure to certain viruses or immunizations. Although Type 1 diabetes usually appears during childhood or adolescence, it can begin in adults which are covered in the next chapter.
Type 1 diabetes signs and symptoms can come on quickly and may include:
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Bedwetting in children who previously didn’t wet the bed during the night
- Extreme hunger
- Unintended weight loss
- Inability and other mood changes
- Fatigue and weakness
- Blurred vision
- In females, a vaginal yeast infection
When to see a doctor: Consult your doctor if you notice any of the above signs and symptoms in yourself or your child.
How Is Type 1 Diagnosed? … Your doctor can perform one of three different blood tests or you can self-test at home:
- Fasting Plasma Glucose Test: Measures your blood sugar after an 8-hour fast.
- Oral Glucose Tolerance Test: Records your blood sugar after an 8-hour fast and again 2 hours after you have a very sweet drink.
- Hemoglobin A1C Test: Looks at your average blood sugar for the past 2 to 3 months. It can be used to see if diabetes is under control or to diagnose the disease.
- Blood Sugar Self-testing at Home: To save medical expenses or to avoid the possibility of having diabetes or prediabetes showing on your medical records, you can self-test at home.
Type 1 may be treatable with no drugs or insulin or minimal amounts for those where the pancreas is still producing some insulin, but requires careful monitoring of blood sugar levels. An aggressive nutritional and lifestyle protocol is needed to reverse Type 1 without risky drugs. While nutrition and lifestyle changes are far preferable to the use of medications and insulin, many uninformed doctors go straight to drugs.
If a doctor recommends drugs without first trying aggressive nutrition and lifestyle changes, it is time to find a better doctor.
Surgery: A pancreas transplant is sometimes considered for people with Type 1 diabetes who have severe complications of their disease, including end-stage kidney disease requiring kidney transplantation.
Those with Type 1 diabetes often feel that having the condition is like having a second job. Such is the stress of monitoring blood sugar levels and administering doses of insulin.
NEW HOPE FOR TYPE 1 PATIENTS (Coming Soon): The “Bionic Pancreas” delivers freedom from testing and superior blood sugar control. It mimics a real pancreas by automatically delivering both insulins to lower blood sugar and additionally, glucagon to raise it as needed.