Different Types of Diabetes

The three main types of diabetes that I'm going to discuss are:


Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes, also called insulin-dependent diabetes, usually manifests in childhood or young adulthood. Type 1 diabetes affects 5 to 10% of people with diabetes and it's associated with complete destruction of the beta cells of the pancreas, which are the ones responsible for manufacturing insulin.

The type 1 diabetic requires lifelong insulin injections for the control of blood sugar levels.

Possible Causes of Type 1 Diabetes

The damage to the insulin-producing cells is caused by the body's immune system turning against its own cells. There are various theories regarding the causes of type 1 diabetes. Some experts believe this may result from an autoimmune response after a viral infection.

Cow's milk in infant formulas could be responsible for Type 1 Diabetes

Another interesting theory, although growing evidence seems to support it, is that some susceptible babies who are given cow's milk too early in life, i.e. earlier than 4 months, are more likely to develop diabetes later on in life.

A protein present in dairy products, bovine serum albumin (BSA), has molecules very similar to the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. The immune system of these genetically susceptible babies mounts a response against these bovine proteins recognizing them as foreign and forms antibodies to attack them.

Unfortunately these antibodies attack not only the cow proteins but also the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. These pancreatic cells are destroyed by so called "friendly fire". The destructive process is gradual - when nearly all the insulin-producing cells are gone, type 1 diabetes results.

Researchers believe that the mature digestive tracts of adults would not allow these dairy proteins to pass through the intestinal wall and into the bloodstream, but in infants, the molecules pass through more easily.

So one way to prevent type 1 diabetes, at least for many children, might be to avoid exposure to cow's milk early in life. BSA can, however pass from the mother's diet into her milk. So if breastfeeding mothers avoid beef and dairy products the risk can be completely removed in genetically susceptible children.

Is there anything you can do about Type 1 Diabetes?

You can't rely only on insulin injections to keep your glucose under control

If you have been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, no doubt you have heard that this condition, more than other types of diabetes, increases the risk of developing problems with your heart, kidneys, eyes or extremities.

But other factors contribute to the development of these problems, including high blood pressure, cholesterol levels and so on. With the right diet you can avoid the complications of the various types of diabetes.

With type 1 diabetes people tend to rely mainly on insulin injections, but there is much more you can do to protect yourself.

Following the advice outlined in this series of articles can help you achieve several things:

  1. Keep blood glucose under control
  2. Stabilize your cholesterol levels
  3. Keep blood pressure within a healthy range
  4. Protect your heart and your blood vessels from damage


Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes (also called Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes) is the most common of the different types of diabetes.

Nine out of ten people with this condition have type 2. It used to be mainly associated with older people but more and more children are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

In type 2 diabetes, insulin levels are typically elevated, indicating a loss of sensitivity to insulin by the body's cells. So the pancreas increases production of insulin to the point that the beta-cells become exhausted or burnt out and eventually stop producing insulin.

This is when a type 2 diabetic has to go on insulin injections.

But before anyone gets to that stage, there's a lot that can be done to reverse this condition. Please read more about the Causes of Diabetes as well as:

Diet for Type 2 Diabetes

Reverse Diabetes with Healing Foods

Foods for Diabetes

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is similar to type 2 diabetes except that it occurs during the second half of pregnancy and it affects about 4% of pregnant women.

Hormonal changes during pregnancy can affect the body's resistance to insulin and the woman's ability to process glucose is impaired.

It typically disappears after delivery, but it seems to be a sign that the woman is more likely to develop type 2 diabetes in later life. Your baby may also be bigger, increasing the chances of Cesarean delivery and the baby also has a greater risk of developing diabetes.

With the same sorts of steps that tackle type 2 diabetes, you can often stop gestational diabetes from ever turning into type 2.

To select you next article click on NEXT to read about the Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes or go back to the Treatment of Diabetes main page.


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