Diabetes is a chronic health problem that involves elevated blood sugar levels. When we metabolize food – carbohydrates, proteins and fats, we produce glucose as blood sugar. Glucose is used to supply energy to every cell in the body. However, if glucose levels become too elevated, this can become harmful to the brain and other organs.
With Type I Diabetes, the body has a deficiency of insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas required to transport glucose into our cells. It is not due to an excess of sugar, as is often the case with Type II Diabetes, but rather a deficiency of its transporter. Left untreated, the resulting blood sugar swings from dramatically high (hyperglycemia) to dramatically low (hypoglycemia) are potentially life-threatening.
Low blood sugar symptoms come on quickly and leave the diabetic feeling dizzy, pale, sweaty and confused, possibly with palpitations. Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) can take hours or days to develop and can result in life threatening ketoacidosis. Other symptoms are frequent urination (children may be constantly wetting the bed), weight loss, excessive appetite or thirst and fatigue or irritability.
Type I Diabetes can occur at any age. However, it is most often diagnosed in children, adolescents, or young adults, and for that reason has been traditionally known as Juvenille Diabetes.
Common Causes of Type I Diabetes
The definitive cause of Type I Diabetes is still being determined. Although we can be genetically susceptible to diabetes, this disease is not exclusively genetic but in fact is related to an auto-immune response in the body. An environmental trigger causes the body to mistakenly attack the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. The trigger could be a live virus or infection. It is generally accepted that antibodies in pasteurized cow milk proteins are a source of auto-immune responses.(1) The body’s response to possible food allergies or sensitivities could trigger an autoimmune response. And there are certain chemicals and drugs that cause destruction of pancreatic cells – for example, pesticides, rodenticides and certain antibiotics used in cancer treatments. It makes us wonder what damage the 1600 chemicals used in pesticide manufacturing and the 3000 chemicals used in additives and preservatives may be doing. Only 10% of pesticide chemicals are adequately tested for human safety in an industry is largely self-regulated.
Naturopaths theorize that there are also environmental triggers such as heavy metals and chemicals as well as microbial problems other than live viruses. It is a consistent observation in the natural health care world that eating too much of certain allergens such as wheat and dairy can cause allergies and sensitivities. And eating higher sugar foods like potatoes could further trigger sensitivities that are already present. Finally, vaccines and other drugs are linked to the susceptibility to Type I Diabetes.(2, 3)
Traditional, Allopathic Treatments
Diabetes is diagnosed through blood and urine tests. Type I Diabetes is usually treated with injections of the insulin that the body has stopped producing. Insulin lowers blood sugar by allowing it to leave the bloodstream and enter cells. Daily injections are required, along with frequent monitoring of blood sugar levels. It is generally accepted in the medical world that this method of treatment is life-long. Without this treatment, and sometimes even with it, the disease can be fatal.
Insulin is usually injected under the skin, either by an external needle or by a pump delivering the drug continuously. A child’s injections may be given by a parent or other adult. As the child gets older, he learns to give his own injections.
The amount of insulin needed daily varies according to the degree of the disease as well as whether the individual is exercising, sick, travelling and with the amount of food being consumed. That’s why Type I Diabetics must either test their blood sugar many times throughout the day, or rely upon a pump responsible for measurement plus administration of the dose.
Insulin therapy is not unlike all other drug therapies in that there can be serious side-effects. These side-effects include rapid heartbeat, difficulty swallowing, dizziness, and shortness of breath, among others.(4)
Most of the world sees Type I Diabetes as something to be lived with. Although it is well accepted that this illness is triggered by environmental factors, very little effort goes into discovering what that trigger was. Therefore, the patient puts more effort into learning how to manage their disease than they do to eliminate the cause of the interference. They stay sick for a very long time. The Maximized Living approach is to look for the actual causes and triggering factors of this disease in the individual. Fortunately, most practices endorsed by Maximized Living move people away from what are well-accepted triggers of Type I Diabetes.
The Immune System
All indicators point to a weak immune system as the open gate through which Type I Diabetes enters. Natural care for this would start by strengthening the immune system through maximized nutrition, maximum nerve supply and minimized toxins.
From a young age, we need to keep the immune system strong. This means eating properly – maximized nutrition. The first step is to stabilize blood sugar levels by avoiding eating sugar and anything that turns into sugar – potatoes, white refined bread, fruits and simple sugars. Avoid conventional cow’s milk due to a possible reaction to beta A1 casein, the milk proteins associated with the auto-immune reactions. (Note: beta A2 casein, produced by rare cattle naturally raised, fed, and bred for thousands of years is less likely to create gut inflammation and autoimmunity.) To further strengthen the immune system, reduce intake of alcohol and caffeine. Eat foods with a low glycemic load value. Increase your intake of healthy fats and moderate your intake of protein. Follow the Advanced Nutrition Plan as laid out in Maximized Living Nutrition Plans.
Chromium deficiency has been linked to diabetes. Eat lots of brewer’s yeast, onions and garlic to naturally increase chromium levels.
Supplement with Vitamin D3. People taking higher levels of Vitamin D have a lesser likelihood of developing Type I Diabetes. While it is not a cure for diabetes, Vitamin D is known to strengthen the immune system and can help in preventing the onset of this disease.(5)
A toxic environment adds to the load on a weakened immune system. While you can’t do a lot about the toxins you take in through breathing, bathing and just walking around in the environment where you live, you can control what goes on and into your body. Use natural cleaning products and beauty products. Eat more organic foods and fewer conventional foods as many toxic chemicals find their way into our body through the fertilizers and pesticides in commercially grown produce and meats. Genetically modified food also places a strain on our digestive system as we try to digest food that is unrecognizable to the body.
Diabetes – The Neurological Connection
Essential in your management of Type I Diabetes is the strength of your nervous system which controls pancreatic, digestive and immune function. It is vital to give your body the best opportunity to function as it was designed, with no interference.
Studies show that Type I Diabetes is not solely an autoimmune or endocrine problem, but perhaps a more complex problem involving the nervous system. A recent discovery by scientists in Toronto, Calgary and Maine showed that stimulation of nerves controlling the pancreatic function in diabetic mice caused the mice to increase production of insulin.(6) We need to take this seriously. Whereas the nervous system controls and coordinates all functions in the body, it should be no surprise that when nerve impulses to cells of the body are diminished (i.e. to the Islets of Langerhans in the pancreas), those cells degenerate and die.
Chiropractic care corrects spinal misalignments (vertebral subluxations) that can interfere with normal health processes in the body. A chiropractor evaluating the nervous system function in a patient with diabetes would naturally evaluate the first cervical vertebra (C1) for any rotational or lateral misalignment potentially affecting the pancreas-influencing tenth cranial (Vagus) nerve, and the region of the sixth and seventh thoracic vertebrae (T6-T7) where nerves exit the spinal column and lead to the pancreas. Healthy care of the spinal column and maintenance of proper spinal alignment before the onset of illness is a key factor in maintaining good health, though correction of spinal damage once symptoms have appeared would be the focus of a corrective care doctor of chiropractic.
Regardless of the condition, current trends continue to show that consideration of dietary and toxic stresses on the body, improved oxygenation of tissue cells, release of stress, vital control of the nervous system are critical factors in the maintenance of good health. As with other conditions that are seen to be incurable, Type I diabetics can have hope in the management of Type I Diabetes without necessarily having to rely increasingly on drugs.