Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks and destroys the beta cells of the pancreas. The beta cells of the pancreas are the only cells in the body which are capable of producing insulin. Without functional beta cells, the body produces NO insulin. Insulin is the only hormone which is capable of “opening” all other cells of the body to allow glucose (the “energy source”) to enter those cells. Without free access to glucose, the cells of the body will die, and so will the individual.
Individuals with T1 are “insulin dependent”. That is, their body is incapable of producing insulin, and therefore the individual must inject insulin daily (usually several times per day) to provide the insulin necessary to allow all cells of the body to absorb and utilize their natural energy source…gloucose…for survival. Without these regular injections of insulin, the individual will die.
Type 1 (also called Juvenile Diabetes) generally strikes children and young adults. Although there may be a genetic component to Type 1, genetic predisposition is not an accurate indication of whether or not any individual will develop T1. It is generally agreed that an environmental “trigger” (probably viral or chemical) is necessary to begin the autoimmune process that leads to T1, however it is not known what that trigger is.
There is currently no cure for Type 1 diabetes. Individuals with Type 1 Diabetes must closely monitor their blood sugar and inject insulin several times each day to ensure their survival and continued health. While advances in technology have made management of T1 more accessible and successful, it still requires continuous monitoring and treatment, and incredible diligence, to support the continued health of the individual.
Type 1 Diabetes is NOT caused by lifestyle choices. It is not caused by eating too much sugar or junk food or carbohydrates. It is not caused by obesity or a sedentary lifestyle, and it is irreversible. It cannot be cured by radical diets, exercise, or nutritional concoctions. It cannot be cured through “positive thinking” or prayer, and children with T1 will not "grow out of it". It is an organic, permanent, and very serious disease which affects about 1Million Americans.
Type 1 Diabetes is NOT Type 2, or “adult onset” Diabetes. Type 2 generally affects adults, although with the rise of childhood obesity more children are being diagnosed with Type 2. While it may include a genetic predisposition, when diagnosed early Type 2 can often be controlled through oral medications, diet, exercise and other lifestyle changes. Type 2 often is not “insulin dependent”, because the body may still be producing its own insulin.