Type 1 Diabetes

  • Medical Author:
    Erica Oberg, ND, MPH

    Dr. Erica Oberg, ND, MPH, received a BA in anthropology from the University of Colorado, her doctorate of naturopathic medicine (ND) from Bastyr University, and a masters of public health (MPH) in health services research from the University of Washington. She completed her residency at the Bastyr Center for Natural Health in ambulatory primary care and fellowship training at the Health Promotion Research Center at the University of Washington.

  • Medical Editor: Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP
    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Dr. Balentine received his undergraduate degree from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. He attended medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduating in1983. He completed his internship at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia and his Emergency Medicine residency at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, where he served as chief resident.

  • Medical Editor: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

Type 1 Diabetes Diet

Foods to Eat and Foods to Avoid

Glycemic index and glycemic load are scientific terms used to measure he impact of a food on blood sugar. Foods with low glycemic load (index) raise blood sugar modestly, and thus are better choices for people with diabetes.

Foods to eat for a type 1 diabetic diet include complex carbohydrates such as

  • brown rice,
  • whole wheat,
  • quinoa,
  • oatmeal,
  • fruits,
  • vegetables,
  • beans, and
  • lentils.

Type 1 diabetes definition and facts

  • Type 1 diabetes (insulin dependent diabetes, juvenile) is a condition in which the body stops making insulin. This causes the person's blood sugar to increase.
  • There are two types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2.
    • In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas is attacked by the immune system and then it cannot produce insulin.
    • In type 2 diabetes the pancreas can produce insulin, but the body can't use it.
  • Causes of type 1 diabetes are auto-immune destruction of the pancreatic beta cells. This can be caused by viruses and infections as well as other risk factors. In many cases, the cause is not known. Scientists are looking for cures for type 1 diabetes such as replacing the pancreas or some of its cells.
  • Risk factors for type 1 diabetes are family history, introducing certain foods too soon (fruit) or too late (oats/rice) to babies, and exposure to toxins.
  • Symptoms of type 1 diabetes are
  • Sometimes, there are no significant symptoms.
  • Type 1 diabetes is diagnosed by blood tests. The level of blood sugar is measured, and then levels of insulin and antibodies can be measured to confirm type 1 vs. type 2 diabetes.
  • Type 1 diabetes is treated with insulin and lifestyle changes. Specifically, meal planning to ensure carbohydrate intake matches insulin dosing.
  • Complications of type 1 diabetes are kidney disease, eye problems, heart disease, and nerve problems (diabetic neuropathy) such as loss of feeling in the feet. Poor wound healing can also be a complication of type 1 diabetes.
  • Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented, however, keeping blood sugar at healthy levels may delay or prevent symptoms or complications. There is currently no cure, and most cases of type 1 diabetes have no known cause.
  • The prognosis or life-expectancy for a person with type 1 diabetes is good if blood sugar control is kept within a healthy range. The life expectancy traditionally has been about 11 years less than average, but that is changing as the prevention of complications improves and technology such as insulin pumps makes it easier for people to keep their blood sugar in a healthy range.

What is type 1 diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that affects blood sugar regulation. A person's immune system makes antibodies that destroy the insulin-producing islet beta cells in the pancreas. The pancreas then fails to make insulin. Without insulin, blood sugar increases and cannot be delivered to the muscles and brain where it is needed. Over time, high blood sugar can lead to a number of complications such as kidney, nerve, and eye damage, and cardiovascular disease. Moreover, cells do not receive the glucose necessary for energy and normal function. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, which means cures for type 1 diabetes will likely involve replacing the damaged pancreas or promoting regeneration or functioning of the pancreas. Because people with type 1 diabetes can no longer produce their own insulin, they must inject doses of insulin. They must match the amount of insulin they inject with their diet. Keeping blood sugar in a normal, healthy range (what doctors call "good glycemic control") is the key to preventing long-term complications.

What is the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?

The major process that happens in type 1 diabetes is that the pancreas can no longer produce insulin. Type 2 diabetes is more a result of insulin resistance (cells not being able to use insulin effectively or at all), that is, it takes a large amount of insulin to move glucose out of the blood and into the cells. Over time, people with type 2 diabetes also may experience decreased insulin production in the pancreas. In type 1 diabetes, over time, the body can also develop insulin resistance; especially in people who gain a lot of weight while using insulin. This means there is some overlap in treatment and diet for people who have had diabetes of either type for a long time.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/3/2016

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