Diabetes: Types and Treatment
Diabetes is a health condition in which normal fasting blood sugar levels are too high because the food a person eats is not being broken down and used in a normal manner in the body.
As you may know, the foods you eat are broken down into a simple sugar called glucose in your body. Normally, this glucose is used for energy in your cells. In response to a meal and a rise in blood glucose, your pancreas secretes a hormone called insulin. Insulin acts to move the glucose from your blood stream into the cells where it can be utilized as an energy source.
A diabetic diagnosis happens when your doctor measures your fasting blood sugar in a blood test, and finds that your blood sugar is high. This high blood sugar happens for one of two reasons:
- Either insulin is not being secreted, or
- Your body can't utilize it properly, a condition called insulin resistance.
The bottom line is that the action of insulin is key to the diabetic condition.
Mainstream medicine identifies the well known Type 1 and Type 2 diabetic conditions, but recent scientific research has also identified two other types of diabetic conditions: Type 3 and Type 4. All are intimately tied to insulin and its effects (or lack of) within the individual body systems.
The four types of diabetic conditions are discussed below:
- Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the cells that secrete insulin in the pancreas have been damaged or destroyed. The result is that the body is unable to make insulin, and without insulin, the body cannot move glucose from the bloodstream into the cells. As a result, the sugar levels in the blood become very high, and this high blood sugar damages the body systems. If not treated by insulin injections, type 1 diabetics can develop serious health problems such as blindness, kidney disease, heart disease, and nerve damage.
There is a growing body of evidence which says that Type 1 diabetic conditions are caused by autoimmune reactions within the body. Autoimmune diseases are those in which the immune system attacks body tissues and cells as it would a foreign invader. Most autoimmune diabetic illness is rooted in the damage caused by antibodies that target the insulin-secreting beta cells of the pancreas. The trigger for this autoimmune process is often a leaky gut.
Studies conducted in North America and Europe have shown that the autoimmune reaction that causes Type 1 occurs in early childhood. These antibodies typically develop many years before the development of the clinical condition and diagnosis. According to one source, 90 percent of children who test positive for pancreatic islet or beta cell antibodies, GAD antibodies and IA-2 antibodies (all indicators that an attack has been started on the pancreas cells that secrete insulin) go on to develop diabetes. If even two of these antibodies are present, up to 75 percent of these children are given a diabetic diagnosis within the next 15 years.
- Type 2 diabetes, which is by far the more common type, is the type mostly strongly associated with insulin resistance. It is the most common health result of chronically elevated blood sugar and insulin levels. These elevated levels of sugar and insulin have the effect of "numbing" the cellular processes which are involved with moving sugar from the blood stream to the cells. In other words, the cells cannot "hear" the insulin asking to move sugar into the cells. As a result, the body cannot respond to the insulin requests to move blood sugar into the cells, and the sugar in the blood stream rises to damaging levels.
The symptoms of a Type 2 diagnosis can be controlled and in some cases, reversed using the correct diet. Lowering the intake of foods which are high in sugar and starch (carbohydrates) can help diabetics stabilize blood sugars in a range closer to normal.
- Type 3 diabetes, has been named as a cause of Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimers and diabetes are being linked in new studies which point to a brain based insulin resistance and brain inflammation caused by uncontrolled oxidative processes. Just like the liver based insulin resistance and resulting inflammation that causes the arterial blockages and heart disease associate with the type 2 diabetic condition, this brain insulin resistance and inflammation results in blockages in the brain synapses that make up memory and cognition. See this paper and this paper for more information.
- Type 4 diabetes, a condition in which elevated insulin levels caused by insulin resistance result in severe episodes of reactive hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and the intense nerve pain of autonomic neuropathy. There may be a relationship between the excess insulin and the excess adrenaline released by the hypoglycemic reactions. See the book Type 4 Diabetes for more information.
If you have gotten a diabetic diagnosis, or know someone who has, most likely the attending physician is going to direct you to the American Diabetes Association for more information. However, the ADA diet recommendations actually make diabetics sicker.
I strongly urge you to instead read Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution: The Complete Guide to Achieving Normal Blood Sugars, and his companion book The Diabetes Diet: Dr. Bernstein's Low-Carbohydrate Solution.
I also recommend Diana Schwarzbein's The Schwarzbein Principle: The Truth About Losing Weight, Being Healthy, and Feeling Younger.
The authors of these books understand the metabolic ravages of a high carb diet and explain it well in layman's terms.
In addition, please visit Blood Sugar 101. You'll find lots of helpful information on this site.
I also like Andre Chimene's site Diabetes is BS. He presents a series of videos for newly diagnosed diabetics which are truly helpful.
For the best research on diabetes and the efficacy of a low carb diet in treating diabetic symptoms, visit the Nutrition and Metabolism Society website.