Diabetes is becoming an increasing health concern for many individuals in the population, especially as risk factors including obesity, unhealthy diets, and lack of activity contribute to the expression of the disease. Although both types of diabetes involve the manner in which the body digests, utilizes, and balances sugars in the blood stream, onset, triggers, and treatment can differ.
However, it is also important to be aware that similarities between the two types of conditions also means that practical treatment measures that include lifestyle changes can be applicable to both. Further, even medical interventions and drugs that are used for treatment may need to be specifically tailored in dosage and protocols based on the individual’s physiology, regardless of what type of diabetes they suffer from.
Comparing and Contrasting Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is generally characterized as a lifetime disease, in that is often diagnosed in early to late childhood. Unlike type 2 diabetes, type 1 is not necessarily associated with excess body weight as an indicator or risk factor, and insulin injections or a pump are absolutely required throughout the lifetime.
In contrast, type 2 diabetes tends to develop later in life, usually in people who are in their 30s. For this reason, type 2 is frequently referred to as adult onset diabetes. Although some individuals with adult onset diabetes are with a perfectly healthy body weight, obesity is a definite risk factor for this type of the disease.
High blood pressure and cholesterol are also associated with adult onset diabetes, although it is not clear whether this is a causative factor or simply a concurrent one that has resulted from the excess weight. Although some individuals with type 2 diabetes may still require insulin shots regularly, many individuals are able to manage the disease with lifestyle changes and even intermittent oral medications.
One of the more telling differences about the disease tends to be the manner in which the two types develop and are diagnosed. In type 1 diabetes, the underlying cause is essentially an auto-immune disorder in which the child’s immune system targets and kills the beta cells in the pancrease which produce insulin. This means that sugars are not able to be digested, and can manifest as high levels of ketones in any bodily excretions, especially the urine.
The reason that type 1 diabetics are also considered insulin reliant is due to the fact that the body is no longer capable of producing practically any insulin, as the destruction of beta cells is ongoing throughout life. Although beta cells do regenerate, the auto-immune condition eliminates them as quickly as they are formed.
In contrast, type 2 diabetes is also referred to as insulin resistant, and this is largely due to unhealthy diets and excess sugars that the body cannot process. As sugar levels in the blood stream increase, the pancreas will attempt to produce more insulin to manage, although too high of a sugar can lead to beta cell exhaustion. Diagnosis for this type of diabetes is through measuring blood sugar through a blood panel test, and as long as this is caught early, the function of the pancreas can still be balanced through medication and lifestyle changes. The need to take regular insulin shots may only arise if the disease is not caught before the pancreas can no longer produce any insulin.
Lifestyle Changes and Drugs to Benefit Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes
Both types of diabetes will respond positively to making healthy changes in life. Although medications may still be required to further treat and control the condition, making wellness changes can also reduce the dosage and frequency of medications that are needed. Some form of insulin is a standard for people with type 1 diabetes, although it may be needed by adult onset sufferers.
However, people with type 2 diabetes have a number of options before needing to resort to insulin, and when these drugs are combined with healthy choices for diet and exercise, they can have a significant impact on management.
- Metformin generally lowers glucose production in the liver, and increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin.
- Sulfonylureas act directly on the pancreas and beta cells to help the body produce more insulin.
- DPP-4 inhibitors will actual aid in reducing blood sugar, thus reducing the amount of insulin that needs to be produced by the body.
Although medication may be necessary, these drugs can also have a more profound effect on healing when they are combined with wellness decisions.
- Weight loss – although this may apply more greatly to adult onset sufferers, some type 1 diabetics can also be carrying excess pounds. Weight reduction can not only be a byproduct of healthy eating habits and cutting back on sugar, but it can also mean that the liver is less prone to overproducing glucose as fat in the body is reduces. A healthy weight can also be important for general wellness, and can reduce the tendency for developing diabetic nerve pain, which can also be exacerbated by obesity.
- Healthy eating – changing the diet, and specifically reducing fatty, processed foods that are high in sugar can have a significantly positive impact on both type 1 and 2 diabetes. Whole grains, vegetables, and clean proteins can all be helpful, as these have a lower glycemic index which means that they will burn more slowly and thus keep the blood sugar balanced. Another important point about healthy eating is also portion control, although low glycemic index foods can also help curb cravings by convincing the body that it is not hungry for longer periods of time.
- Exercise – engaging in low impact cardiovascular activities can be ideal for people with either type of diabetes. For type 2 diabetics, this can further help to promote weight loss and keep blood sugar relatively constant through improved metabolic function. Although weight loss may not be as much of a concern for most early onset diabetics, the activity levels can still lower blood sugar overall, which reduces the insulin dosage that is required.