Insulin dependent Diabetes Mellitus (IDDM or type 1) results from an autoimmune mediated depletion of insulin-secreting pancreatic beta islet cells. Genetics plays a role, but unknown environmental factors like heavy metal toxins in the environment, such as arsenic, mercury, lead also trigger the disease. Either way, the disease causes the immune system to mistakenly attack and kill insulin-producing cells, called beta cells, in the pancreas.
Let's look at the root cause in detail...
If we look deep, the causes and contributors for IDDM or type 1 include
Genetic propensities (although the genetic risk of inheriting is only 1-10% from parents with IDDM, and even identical twins had concurrent IDDM in only 30-50% of cases studied)
Dietary factors such as overeating and obesity, and a diet low in fibrous, natural, whole foods and high in processed foods, are believed to be behind most cases of the disease. The modern diet with processed oils, high fructose corn syrup, advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs), fatty acid imbalance, and a gross excess of sugars and high glycemic index carbohydrates, contributes to a variety of metabolic and genetic dysfunctions, with many individuals genetically predisposed to higher risk. The modern diet appears to be the main culprit, although a combination of factors contributes. Destruction of the pancreatic beta cells from glucose toxicity, AGEs, and oxidative stress, combined with lipotoxicity (high triglycerides and free fatty acids), presents the most plausible explanation for the key metabolic dysfunctions that lead to beta cell death.
Adverse effects of medications (e.g prednisone or other corticosteroids, some antibiotics, chemotherapy agents)
Environmental chemicals (especially poisons, heavy metal toxins, and herbicides)
Hormonal changes (e.g. pregnancy)
Chronic viral infections that initiate the autoimmune dysfunction.
The current medical approach to managing Type 1 diabetes is the periodic administration of insulin, usually through self-administered injections. The protocol in standard medicine, to just blame genetic inheritance, and then put the patient on synthetic insulin, and an array of metabolic and cardiovascular pharmaceutical drugs for life, has proven to be misguided. With the explosive rise in the incidence of diabetes, a more thoughtful and holistic approach is solely needed. There is no longer any doubt that even Type 1 Diabetes is a multifactorial disease involving an array of environmental causes and needs a more holistic approach to treatment and prevention.
Diabetes Type 1 is now considered a syndrome of diseases that are related to immune responses.
A number of associations and triggers in early childhood, such as Vitamin D deficiency, immune responses to proteins in cow milk, a lack of early immune memory from insufficient breast feeding and lack of colostrum, fatty acid imbalances, and exposure to more complex solid foods at too early of an age, have been noted in studies. This long list of causes and contributors does not make it easy for the patient or physician to assess the individual with diabetes and arrive at a course of therapy to reverse the disease, and almost all patients have been told that there is no hope of cure or reversal of the pathology, and that they all must simply rely on synthetic insulin to manage their blood sugars.
New approach in the management of Type 1 Diabetes:
For patients with diabetes, especially IDDM or insulin-dependent Diabetes Type 1, the main consideration is on how to stop the disease and pancreatic damage from progressing, and how to avoid the eventual severe consequences with co-morbid diseases, such as peripheral neuropathy, diabetic retinopathy, cardiovascular disease, and dementia. To control this disease, and it's progression, we must first understand what it is, what type you have, why your symptoms arise, and what your doctor is doing to control the disease, and a lack of patient education is a big problem. Patient education and understanding are very important, and have long been ignored. It is important to keep in mind that the progression of the disorder to a clinical state, or state where symptoms are noticed, is usually gradual, and further progression to a state where serious health problems arise, such as cardiovascular disease, eye disease, neuropathy, skin problems, and kidney damage is also usually a gradual process. Once you are diagnosed with the disease, there is usually ample time to develop a lifestyle of controlled diet and exercise, and to utilize, or integrate, Functional Medicine to prevent progression of the disease and symptoms.
Definite possibility with this new approach:
Diabetes Mellitus is associated with diet, both in relation to cause and to control of the disease. The mechanisms of the disorder can be controlled successfully by a change in habits, especially dietary and exercise routines, and consequently, the disease state presents little danger as long as these healthy habits are maintained. If the pancreatic beta cells are destroyed, as in the autoimmune type 1, a patient may be insulin dependent, but the need for insulin will decrease with increased control of the blood sugar metabolism by the patient.
Functional medicine can help patients with Type 1 Diabetes in a number of ways. Control of the sugar and lipid metabolism with improved diet and exercise habits, as well as nutrient medicine, may reduce the need for injected insulin as a control, and help to maintain better natural homeostatic controls, and reduce harmful fluctuations in glucose and energy metabolism. In the long term, the reduction of dosage of injected insulin will prevent side effects and harm from chronic use of injected synthetic insulin, and support of the natural hormonal metabolism will provide health benefits that synthetic insulins are unable to provide.
Hope with this new approach:
Restoration and regrowth of insulin secreting beta cells in the pancreas is now confirmed as a possibility as well, and a comprehensive step-by-step treatment protocol is needed to achieve this task over time. To achieve a restoration of pancreatic insulin production, the less the body depends upon synthetic insulin replacement, the better. Better self-initiated control of blood sugar and fatty metabolism will also ensure an optimal static health and prevent the ill effects of a fluctuating sugar and lipid metabolism. The time spent with the patient to help with establishing these individualized dietary and exercise regimes by the Functional medicine Doctor, will be an important part of the integrated treatment plan. With combination of individualized advice for the proactive patient added to the patient’s efforts, autoimmune effects can be reduced, pancreatic beta cell regeneration can be achieved, liver function can be improved, and even the hypothalamic function can be improved and positively affect blood glucose control.
If you or your loved one has Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes, and you are willing to make necessary lifestyle and dietary changes, reach out to us at info.functionalmedicineclinic@gmailcom.