There are two types of diabetes Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 is considered juvenile diabetes and it is usually developed in earlier childhood. Although rare, there are occurrences of Type 1 diabetes developing in adults. Type 2 diabetes is the most common one that many people know that develops in later adulthood.
So what exactly is diabetes? Let’s start with Type one diabetes. In type 1, the pancreas is attacked by the body’s immune system. This is considered an autoimmune disease. The pancreas produces insulin. It is unclear why the body sees the insulin producing cells as foreign. The body uses the insulin for energy; the insulin opens up the cells to allow glucose to enter, so it can be used for energy. Without the insulin in the cells, the cells starve and die, leaving sugar to build up in the blood, hence the term high blood sugar.
Unlike people with Type 1 diabetes, people with Type 2 diabetes produce some of their own insulin, but it may not be enough. Insulin is the key to open cells, but in Type 2 diabetes the “key” doesn’t work and that is what is called insulin resistance. The pancreas tries to make up for the insulin resistance by producing more insulin, but eventually the pancreas can't keep up with maintaining the blood glucose levels.
The treatment between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes is different. In Type 1 diabetes there are insulin injections and monitoring of insulin and sugar levels. Type 2 is different. Many times type 2 diabetes can be prevented or treated with change of lifestyle and diet. If that doesn’t work, sometimes medication is given. Eating a low sugar diet and exercising is really important in type 2 diabetes treatment.
There is no prevention for Type 1 diabetes and the cause of Type 1 is unknown. However, Type 2 diabetes can be prevented. A good place to start is limit the processed sugar in your diet. Processed sugar lurks everywhere in food. From cakes, cookies, candy to ketchup, pasta sauce and cereal. So start by looking at the sugar content in your food. Exercise is another good way to prevent diabetes as well as other chronic diseases. Start by going on walks or trying a low impact class at your local gym. Don't start these changes when you're already pre-diabetic, start them now. It is never too early to start a healthier life style.
November is Diabetes awareness month. Diabetes is part of the trifecta that affects older adults. I consider the trifecta that affect older adults: diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol. However, just because you are aging doesn’t mean that you will develop diabetes or other chronic illness. Many times, illness is due to life style and/or genetics.