Approximately half of all people in the U.S. have either diabetes or prediabetes. Diabetes is a disease of abnormally high blood glucose (sugar). Prediabetes occurs when the blood glucose is abnormally high, but not high enough to classify as diabetes yet. Both are a huge problem of epidemic proportions. There are 2 types of diabetes – type I and type II. Some doctors are now saying that there is actually a type III diabetes as well. What are the differences?
- Type I diabetes – also known as juvenile onset diabetes since it usually first appears in adolescence, this is the most rare form of diabetes (only 5% of all diabetes cases). In this type, the pancreas produces little or no insulin. This is an autoimmune disease, which means that the immune system has become confused and begins to attack the body’s own healthy tissues – in this case, the cells of the pancreas which produce insulin, the hormone responsible for moving blood glucose into the body’s cells so that they can use it as fuel. The glucose in your blood builds up, and the cells don’t get the nourishment they need to function. Because there is so much glucose built up in the bloodstream with nowhere to go, these people tend to pee more, the body’s only way to get rid of it. Over time, high blood glucose causes damage to certain internal organs, such as the eyes, kidneys, and heart.
- Type II diabetes – This is by far the most common type. This type is normally seen mostly in adults, but sadly, in recent years has been seen more and more in children as well. This type is highly preventable and reversible. Put simply, this disease is caused by diet and lifestyle. Too much sugar, white flour, and processed foods in the diet, and not enough healthy food and exercise. This causes too much insulin to be secreted into the bloodstream. On the surface of the body’s cells are receptors, little key holes that accept the insulin (the key), in order to unlock the cell so that the glucose can enter and be used as fuel. If high insulin in the blood has become chronic, the cells no longer respond to insulin as they should – this is called insulin resistance. Our lifestyles are by and large much less active than our ancestors’, and yet we are eating and drinking much more than our ancestors in the way of fuel (refined carbohydrates and sugar). Because of our diets and lifestyles, our insulin secretion has become abnormally too high for too long. Stress also greatly contributes to the problem. The stress hormone cortisol causes more glucose to be available to the body, therefore causing it to rise. If you are in a ‘fight-or-flight’ situation, you are going to need more fuel (glucose) to survive whatever threat is approaching. If the stress is chronic, this causes chronic elevated glucose levels in the bloodstream.
- Type III diabetes – The dementia of Alzheimer’s disease is now considered to be caused by eating too much refined carbohydrates and sugar. Insulin resistance not only affects your body, but it also causes damage to the brain.