Getting Type 1 Diabetes

Getting Type 1 Diabetes
Christine L. Foutch Naturopathic Physician Rock Island, Illinois

Christine Foutch is a practicing Holistic Physician in Rock Island, Illinois, specializing in Holistic Nutrition and Biomechanics. Holistic medicine is the art and the science of healing that addresses the whole person – body, mind, and spirit. The practice of holistic medicine integrates conventional and alternative therapies... more

Type 1 Diabetes occurs when the pancreas is unable to produce insulin.

Without insulin, most cells cannot take up glucose. This inability to take up the glucose causes the blood sugar levels to raise dangerously high. This is the reason why individuals with type 1 diabetes require daily insulin injections to control their blood sugar levels. It is also the reason this was previously called insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.

Approximately 5 to 10% of all people with diabetes have type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes can develop at any age. It most often occurs during childhood and early adolescence, typically around 12 to 14 years of age. This is why type 1 diabetes was once called juvenile onset diabetes.

Type 1 is caused by complex interactions among genetics, environmental factors, and the immune system that lead to an inability of the pancreas to produce insulin.

Scientists have long recognized that type 1 diabetes seems to be more common in some families and in certain ethnic groups, suggesting a genetic component.

However, like other auto-immune diseases, it is triggered by something in the environment.

What is an auto-immune disease?

Auto-immune diseases are disorders caused by the production of antibodies that attack and destroy tissues in the body. Many researchers believe that individuals with type 1 diabetes are triggered by a viral infection which in turn stimulated the immune system to produce antibodies. When a virus invades your body, it travels into your cell and takes over, forcing the cells to reproduce the virus.

Viruses are not considered alive as they need a host cell to replicate. They are a membranous particle of DNA or RNA A code that invades cells infecting it and forces replication of itself. This infection needs to get the attention of your cytotoxic cells, The Natural Killer Cells, that are able to recognize malfunctioning cells of yours, and then they search out and destroy them secreting toxic proteins that begin the programmed cell death, or Apoptosis.

In the case of type 1 diabetes, the antibodies produced from the breakdown of the infected cells attack and destroy the insulin producing cells, or beta cells of the pancreas.

Though this is not fully understood, the destruction of the pancreatic B cells, which is a gradual process, leaves the ability to produce little or no insulin at all. The pancreas cannot keep up with the body's need for insulin, resulting in severe hyperglycemia.

Without insulin, most cells cannot take up glucose, the energy source they usually rely on. Cells compensate for the lack of glucose by metabolizing fat and protein your muscle and your energy reserves, resulting in the rapid weight loss that we see.

Using large amounts of fats with the absence of glucose for energy results in ketone formation. The accumulation of ketones in the blood can bring on flu-like symptoms, such as abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. If the situation is not corrected, this can lead to a life threatening condition called diabetic keto-acidosis. This is caused by the accumulation of ketones in the blood which make the blood acidic. Diabetic keto-acidosis can lead to coma or death and requires immediate medical attention.
Other symptoms associated with type one diabetes include:

These symptoms are also caused by the high levels of blood glucose.

The kidneys must work harder over time to filter out the excess glucose out of the blood, resulting in the spilling over of glucose into the urine. The kidneys must dilute the glucose in the urine by drawing water out of the blood as a result. People urinate frequently resulting in dehydration and thirst. Along with all that, type one diabetes causes an individual to feel hungry and weak all the time because cells are starved of their energy source.

In fact, diabetes causes starvation among plenty

Why the injection of insulin?

Well, insulin is a amino acid based hormone so it cannot be taken orally. It will be broken down into individual amino acids, then absorbed. It doesn't survive the digestion process. People with type one diabetes need the multiple injections daily to control their blood sugar levels.

Type one diabetes can lead to very serious health conditions, for example increasing the risk of heart attacks and stroke. It can also lead to blindness, limb amputation, impaired kidney function, and loss of feeling in hands and feet.