By naturopath Margaret Jasinska
The incidence of diabetes is rising. Everyone is aware of that, yet not everyone understands the impact diabetes has on the body. Elevated blood sugar is extremely destructive to health. It has negative consequences immediately, as well as over the long term.
Diabetes type 1 is an autoimmune disease caused by the immune system attacking the insulin producing cells in the pancreas. Once these beta cells are destroyed, the pancreas can never produce enough insulin. This is a permanent disease but can still be helped with nutritional medicine and of course insulin therapy.
Diabetes type 2 is a disease that occurs when insulin is not working properly because the cells of the body have become resistant to it. In people with type 2 diabetes there is often too much insulin present in the body. The insulin does not work efficiently, so to compensate, the pancreas keeps on making more and more insulin.
The difference between diabetes type 1 and diabetes type 2 can be diagnosed with a 2-hour Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT) where it is essential to measure both the levels of blood sugar and blood insulin after a load of glucose is given to the patient in a sugary drink. In both diabetes type 1 and diabetes type 2 the blood sugar rises too high. However, in diabetes type 1, the insulin levels remain low and inadequate, and in diabetes type 2 the insulin levels rise way too high. There are additional antibody blood tests that are done to confirm the presence of type 1 diabetes. In diabetes type 1, where insulin levels are inadequate, it is essential that the patient is prescribed insulin, as oral drugs do not work well. Insulin can be given as injections (which have a tiny painless needle) or the wonderfully effective insulin pump. This insulin therapy can control blood sugar levels very well and thus prevent the complications of diabetes.
When type 1 is diagnosed in adulthood, it usually comes on more gradually and is not as severe as type 1 diabetes in childhood. For this reason, it is usually referred to as LADA: Latent Autoimmune Diabetes of Adulthood. The incidence of this type of diabetes is rising sharply, and in fact some research has shown now more than half of type 1 diabetes is diagnosed in those over the age of 30.