Diabetes Types – Blurring The Lines

I ran across this great article recently called “What Is In A Name?” from my awesome truth-telling friend, Steve Cooksey, the Diabetes Warrior (HERE).

The article talks about how, at one time, diabetes was classified differently and how/why that has changed.

When I went to nursing school, diabetes was classified as follows:
IDDM: Insulin dependent diabetes mellitus
NIDDM: Non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus

And that classification worked for a long time because those with Type 1 were the ones who had an absolute NEED for insulin, while those with Type 2, as we know, typically OVER produce insulin for many many years.

So why did the classification need to change? As the article pointed out, primarily as a result of decades of poor dietary advice, the majority of those with Type 2 were becoming insulin dependent!!

Why would someone who over-produces insulin, NEED insulin? For two reasons:

  1. The poor lifestyle advice that leads to the need for huge insulin production, leads to insulin resistance, leading to the need for even more insulin to do the same job. And,
  2. After years of this insulin over-production, the pancreas “wears out,” insulin producing cells are destroyed. Therefore, insulin may need to be injected.

BOTTOM LINE…DUE TO POOR DIETARY ADVICE, THOSE WITH TYPE 2 BECOME INSULIN DEPENDENT (LIKE A PERSON WITH TYPE 1).

That is not all that is happening. People with Type 1 are often told from childhood to “eat like every other child and just cover with enough insulin.” Here’s the thing…the diet for the average child in America is leading to obesity and Type 2 (previously never seen in children). So it’s not good for ANY child!! After years of following this poor dietary advice and using large doses of injectable insulin, those with Type 1 will begin to become overweight and insulin resistant.

BOTTOM LINE…DUE TO POOR DIETARY ADVICE, THOSE WITH TYPE 1 BECOME INSULIN RESISTANT (LIKE A PERSON WITH TYPE 2).

No wonder the lines are becoming so blurred!!

What is at the heart of it?? Poor dietary advice!! The right dietary advice (if applied early enough) can often keep those with Type 2 from becoming insulin dependent. In fact, when adopting a healthy lifestyle, many people with Type 2 are able to manage their diabetes WITHOUT medication. The right dietary advice will also keep those with Type 1 from becoming insulin resistant. It can help both Types to maintain a healthy weight.

I think there needs to be a reclassification of diabetes Types as well, but with emphasis on cause. If we identify diabetes Types by cause, the focus on treatment will be clear.

  • Type 1 diabetes should be classified as “autoimmune” diabetes (not reversible, yet), insulin needed.
  • Type 2 diabetes should be classified as a “lifestyle” diabetes (preventable AND reversible).  In fact, the esteemed Dr. Robert Lustig, world renowned Pediatric Endocrinologist and obesity specialist, recently quipped that Type 2 should be called a “processed food disease.”  If we classify Type 2 in this way, it would put the focus on using lifestyle to treat and reverse Type 2 diabetes. The majority of lifestyle management would be directed toward diet, with the other factors being things such as exercise, proper sleep, stress control and balancing hormones.

Some might balk at calling Type 2 a “lifestyle” disorder, saying that it is strongly genetic. I feel your pain. Almost everyone in the last several generations in my family is Type 2. I DO find that I must work much harder than many of my healthy eating friends to keep my blood sugar and weight regulated. But as the saying goes, “genetics loads the gun but environment pulls the trigger.” In other words, we can’t change what we have inherited. But we CAN do our best with what we have been handed…it doesn’t have to rule us or be our destiny. Through great effort, and by adopting a healthy lifestyle immediately upon diagnosis, I have been able to achieve non-diabetic health markers for several years. As a result, my doctor has removed diabetes from my diagnosis list.

So why is the right dietary advice so elusive?? As I have said before…diabetes is big business. And there are a lot of organizations and people in the BUSINESS of diabetes. Unfortunately, there is much money to be made when people are sick.  One of my friend’s has begun writing diabetes like this: DIABETE$.

Please, don’t line the pockets of organizations who are increasing their bank accounts on the very advice that increases your drug dependence and your waistline.

Wishing you health and happiness.

Suggested Reading…

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For more reading suggestions, see my recommended reading list  HERE