Diabetes: Type 1 vs Type 2

Diabetes mellitus (the complete name for the disorder) is a condition where glucose is passed out in urine.

Diabetes mellitus and my history.

When I was diagnosed as diabetic in 1963, you either had juvenile diabetes or adult-onset diabetes.  A juvenile diabetic always needed insulin injections because their autoimmune system had destroyed the insulin producing beta cells in their pancreas.  On the other hand, adult-onset diabetes, occurred in older and/or overweight adults.   The experts believed that aging caused a reduction in the amount of insulin produced by the beta cells in some individuals.  In overweight adults, they believed the beta cells were not able to produce enough insulin to cover all the food ingested.

Before the discovery of insulin,  a juvenile diabetic would just die before reaching the age of an adult.  After insulin injections became widely available for treating juvenile diabetics, most lived well past the minimum age of an adult.  In addition experts were finding adults (i.e. actress Mary Tyler Moore at age 33) who had diabetes caused by the malfunction of the autoimmune system (aka juvenile diabetes).  Even adult-onset diabetes was being diagnosed in children as well as adults.  As a result, the two types of diabetes mellitus had to be renamed to mitigate the confusion.

Diabetes mellitus and type definitions.

Renaming the 2 types of diabetes mellitus should have been an easy task.  Just call them type 1 and type 2.  Right?  No, they went a step farther and decided to call them type 1, insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) and type 2, noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM).  The problem with this naming convention was that while all type 1 diabetics are insulin-dependent, some type 2 diabetics use insulin to treat the condition.  How could you say a type 2 was NIDDM when injecting insulin was the only effective treatment to manage their condition?

In my opinion, type 1 diabetes happens when the body cannot produce any insulin.  The cause of this condition is a malfunction of the autoimmune system.  The insulin C-peptide blood test results will show when no insulin is being produced in the pancreas.  The cause of type 2 diabetes is now defined as insulin resistance.  But I believe that type 2 diabetes also occurs when there is insufficient production of insulin in the pancreas.  Why is this divergence important?

Diabetes mellitus and buyer beware.

I often see articles about type 1 diabetes “cured” by changing diet.  They always report that after changing their diet they no longer need insulin injections.  A change in diet sometimes eliminates the need for insulin injections in a type 2 diabetic.  But in a true type 1 diabetic the best result will only be a reduction in the amount of insulin injected on a daily basis.  Please note, if your blood test shows your body doesn’t produce any insulin then iust ignore the hype about a diet that can “cure” type 1 diabetes.  Also understand that a true type 1 diabetic will die without insulin injections just like a non-diabetic will die without any food available to consume.


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