Type 1 diabetes
Diabetes is a hormonal condition which escalates your blood sugar levels. There are two types diabetes: Type 1 and type 2. The former, however, is far less common than the later. According to the estimates of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US, only 5 to 10 per cent of diabetics suffer from type 1, globally. Scientists haven’t yet been able to find out the cause behind this type of diabetes. A family history of type 1 diabetes and certain environmental factors can up your risk of this condition.
What is Type 1 Diabetes?
“Type 1 diabetes is a condition common in children and young people. It is also known as juvenile diabetes,” says Mumbai-based diabetologist Dr. Pradeep Gadge. It occurs when your immune cells destroy the beta cells of your pancreas, responsible for the secretion of insulin hormone. It is required to convert glucose onto energy. “When your body doesn’t have enough of this hormone, glucose doesn’t turn into energy. This increases the level of glucose or sugar in the blood and urine,” explains Dr. Gadge.
What Causes Type 1 Diabetes?
“The exact cause of type 1 diabetes is still unknown. There is no defined set of population to be considered at risk. However, research indicates that people who have a pool of autoantibodies in their body are at a higher risk of developing it,” says Dr Gadge. Research also suggests that genetic and environmental factors may play an instrumental role in the inception of type 1 diabetes.
Type 1 Diabetes Risks
A lot is yet to be found out about type 1 diabetes. The factors that can make one vulnerable to this condition are also poorly understood. However, experts have identified some high-risk groups:
- Children who have both the parents suffering from diabetes
- Kids who have mothers with a history of gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy)
- Kids who have suffered an infection, injury or trauma of the pancreas
- People living in cold climates
Type 1 Diabetes Complications
High levels of sugar in the blood can affect other crucial organs and functions of the body. If not controlled on time, type 1 diabetes can be responsible for an increased risk of the following complications:
- Heart attack
- Vision issues (blindness included)
- Nerve damage
- Infections that aren’t easily cured (necessitating amputation in some cases)
- Kidney failure
Diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes
Your doctor will review your symptoms suggest the following tests if he finds them indicative of diabetes:
Random Glucose Testing
This blood test checks your sugar levels at any given point of time in the day. A reading of 200 mg/dL may be indicative of diabetes.
Postprandial Plasma Glucose Test (PPGT)
You may need this as a follow-up test if the results of the random glucose test are high. This blood test tells your doctor about body’s tolerance towards glucose. You need to take 75g of glucose orally 2 hours after this for a PPGT. A reading of 200 mg/dl or above confirms diabetes. A reading is between 140 mg/dl and 200 mg/dl, on the other hand, is indicative of impaired glucose tolerance.
With this test your doctor will be able to find out average blood glucose levels over the past three months. Here’s how to read the result:
Normal: A1C level below 5.7%
Prediabetes: A1C ranging between 5.7 to 6.4%
Diabetes: A1C level of 6.5% or above.
Treatment of Type 1 Diabetes
Insulin shots are a must for people with this type of diabetes. However, one can use insulin pumps also instead of the injections. Insulin pumps work by injecting the hormone to your blood through a port in the skin. The quantity of insulin required keeps changing through the day. So, people with type 1 diabetes need to monitor their blood sugar levels to determine how much insulin they need at a particular time. Several types of insulin are available in the market. Here is a low-down on them:
Rapid-acting Insulin: It starts acting within 15 minutes of taking it and continues to work for 2-4 hours. This insulin peaks one hour after you take it.
Short-acting Insulin: Starting to function 30 minutes after taking it, this insulin peaks between 2 and 3 hours. It works for three to six hours.
Intermediate-acting Insulin: In this, the insulin does enter your bloodstream before 2-4 hours. Peaking between four and twelve hours, it works for 12 to 18 hours.
Long-acting Insulin: It lasts for about 24 hours.
Type 1 Diabetes Diet
Your food plays a major role in determining your blood sugar levels. The golden rule is to have a balanced proportion of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. However, you need to plan a diet for yourself with the help of your nutritionist and diabetologist. Here are some general guidelines that you can follow.
Include sufficient amount of fibre in your meals
Getting 25-30g of fibre every day may help in controlling your blood sugar levels. The best sources for this nutrient are whole grains, beans, and fruits and vegetables.
Be cautious about your carbs
Carbohydrates escalate your blood sugar levels faster than any other food group. Though they are your primary sources of energy, you need to be judicious about what you choose and how much of carbs you have. Work closely with your diabetologist and nutritionist to figure out what and how much carbohydrate you should have in your meals.
Cut back on unhealthy fat
Diabetes ups your risk of cardiac ailments and fats are the other culprits that can spell trouble for your heart. So, it becomes all the more essential to avoid them when your blood sugar levels are high. Avoid saturated fats found in red meat and full-fat dairy products.
Include these super foods in your meals
Your diet needs to include foods low in carbohydrates and high in key nutrients like calcium, potassium, fibre, magnesium, and other vitamins. Loading up on the following foods will help you control your blood sugar levels better:
- Dark green leafy vegetables
- Citrus fruit
- Sweet potatoes
- Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids (like salmon)
- Whole grains
- Fat-free yogurt and milk