Autoimmune (Type I) Diabetes

Type I diabetes affects nearly 700,000 people in the United States. It is the most common chronic metabolic disorder to affect children. Caucasian populations, especially Scandinavians, have the greatest risk, and people of Asian or African descent have the lowest risk of developing this f


Type I diabetes is usually diagnosed in children or adults under 30. The difference of risk is less due to genetic factors than to dietary ones, as we shall see shortly. Type I diabetes can develop unnoticed for years. But then, symptoms usually develop quickly, over a few days to weeks, and are caused by blood sugar levels rising above the normal range (hyperglycemia).Early symptoms include frequent urination, especially noticeable at night; possible bed-wetting among young children; extreme thirst and a dry mouth, weight loss and sometimes, excessive hunger.Click here

Type I diabetes is defined by the absence of insulin due to the destruction of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas - called beta cells. Type I diabetics are dependent on insulin injections to control their blood sugar levels. The most common time for developing diabetes is during puberty, although it can occur at any age.

In Type 2 diabetes, due to insulin resistance, the cells in the body are unable to obtain glucose that they need for energy. In type I diabetes, the cells are also deprived of glucose, but in this case it is because insulin is not available. When cells are glucose deprived, the body breaks down fat for energy. This results in ketones or fatty acids entering the blood stream, causing the chemical imbalance (metabolic acidosis) called diabetic ketoacidosis. If left untreated, very high blood sugar would lead to flushed, hot, dry skin; labored breathing; restlessness; confusion; difficulty waking up; coma; and even death.

There is an increasing body of scientific evidence to suggest that cow's milk during childhood increases the risk of developing Type I diabetes. In a recent study published in Diabetes (2000), researchers found that children who had a sibling with diabetes were more than 5 times as likely to develop the disorder if they drank more than half a liter (about two 8-ounce glasses) of cow's milk a day, compared with children who drank less milk.

While it is not clear which component of cow's milk may increase the risk of diabetes, researchers suspect that one of several proteins may be to blame by causing the immune system to attack insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Dairy products so closely mimic human hormones that many times an autoimmune response is mounted. This may result in arthritis, irritable bowel, Crohn's disease, lymph edema and lymphatic congestion, phlegm in the throat, fatigue, cancer, and many other disorders.

Although many type I diabetics are known to be genetically susceptible to the disease (genetic variation), others with the same genetic variation will never develop diabetes. This suggests that dietary factors play a decisive role in who will actually become afflicted with the disorder. In fact, research showed that babies who breastfeed at least 3 months have a lower incidence of type I diabetes, and may be less likely to become obese as adults. This further supports and validates other research that has linked early exposure to cow's milk and cow's milk-based formula to the development of type I diabetes. Clinical studies have also shown that women who breastfeed reduce the risk of their children developing the type 2 diabetes.


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