TYPE 1 DIABETES
Type 1 diabetes is a chronic autoimmune condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin, a hormone needed to allow sugar (glucose) to enter cells to produce energy.
Type 1 diabetics need to administer their own insulin, most often matching it to their varying food and lifestyle needs on what is called a basal (slow-acting insulin) bolus (quick-acting insulin) regime. Bolus insulin is matched to food. This may be done by hand or via an insulin pump. An insulin pump offers the best control, and so the best chance at optimal health, but certainly in the UK are not easily available on the NHS. Some people take biphasic insulin twice a day as their regime, which means they have to eat 3 meals a day at set times. This in an inflexible regime and quite problematic as it gives reduced blood sugar control and can be difficult to manage and cause increased hypoglycemic episodes. The most effective method is to match insulin to food using the DAPHNE technique and analysis, courses are available across the UK, do consult your diabetes team, who are there to support you, and who it is your right to see regularly.
Type 1 diabetes is a demanding and complex condition to manage, which requires regular daily monitoring of blood glucose levels, often the measuring of the carbohydrate in food in order to judge the amount of insulin needed, and also of activity levels. Type 1 diabetics frequently experience low blood sugar, known as hypoglycemia, and can frequently experience high blood sugar, known as hyperglycemia, both are damaging to health, and can be fatal at their extreme. Read more here for how to effectively control these variations.
Type 1 diabetes is permanent and the subject is insulin-dependent for life. It is genetic in cause, though there can be triggers, but little is really known about this.
Food, sweet drinks, exercise, exertion, viruses and other illnesses, and stress, all affect a type 1 diabetic’s blood sugar levels, causing them to rise or fall, affecting the way that they function. I am a very sensitive diabetic, sensitive to insulin and to carbohydrate, and so I experience more swings in blood sugar levels than most, and my condition is harder to control. But type 1 diabetes is manageable, and with a disciplined approach, people can lead full and active lives.
Because people so often confuse type 1 with type 2 diabetes, it is a common misconception to think that type 1 diabetics cannot eat sweet things. This is wrong. For example a type 1 diabetic suffering from hypoglycemia needs to eat something highly sweet, and also a type 1 diabetic is usually able to be in control of what they eat and match their insulin to their food to balance their blood sugar levels. Balancing your blood sugar levels is just that, a balancing act, and usually no-one knows better than the diabetic themselves, who are forced to be an expert on their condition in order to survive. On the whole (there are other insulin types that require regular stable eating) a type 1 diabetic matches their insulin to their food and can, in effect, eat whatever and whenever they want to. However, to be healthy and effectively control the condition long-term
embrace a whole food diet for optimal health
It is however easier to manage diabetes if you eat normally and maintain a good weight, and for very sensitive diabetics like myself, whose blood sugar levels rise higher with each unit of carbohydrate than is usual, a lower carb diet makes the condition far easier to manage. All diabetics should avoid refined sugars and processed foods. Natural sugars such as agave have a low impact on blood sugar levels, or natural sweeteners such as stevia leaf, and are far healthier. Eating a whole food low GI/ GL diet of alkaline and anti-inflammatory foods helps to counteract the damaging effects of variations in blood sugar, and also to prevent and even heal type 2 diabetes. This basically means enjoying foods as close to their natural state as possible, avoiding refined and processed foods and enjoying fresh and whole-grain produce. Food and lifestyle are central to living healthily as a diabetic.
TYPE 2 DIABETES
Type 2 diabetes, is when the body’s cells are no longer sensitive to the insulin the body produces, and so the subject suffers from raised blood sugar levels. It most often affects people in a higher age bracket, and those who are overweight, as lipids (fats) block the body’s cells ability to use insulin. Type 2 diabetics can also administer insulin, often in large amounts. There are also medications to improve their insulin sensitivity. They are advised to avoid sugar and high GI and GL foods, such as refined carbohydrates, sweet sugary foods and to limit their carbohydrate intake, and to exercise, as exercise increases insulin sensitivity.
type 2 diabetes is caused by lifestyle factors, which means it can be managed and even reversed through following a healthy diet, exercising, and losing weight!
This is great news! Follow a healthy whole food plant-based diet, and exercise as much as you can and you’ll be well on your way to optimal health. Check out my guide to losing weight sustainably and keeping a health diary, my experience of fasting and a juice fast for weight loss and improved health, which are great tools to making those important changes for the long-term, and finding a happier more balanced life.
The types of diabetes are often confused, but there are fundamental differences, and in reality, they are very different conditions. I have late onset type 1 diabetes, which was very drawn out over many years, and for two years my doctor thought I was type 2, and so I have lived with the restrictions of being type 2, and understand it well. Both are serious conditions, which involve other health risks and complications, and should be taken very seriously.
both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can be managed effectively with a healthy lifestyle!
Let’s keep in touch and support each other XX
GO FOR IT!
my guide to losing weight sustainably
my page on keeping a heath diary
my page on food and health