When someone is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, it may sound like a death sentence. Most people picture lifelong insulin injections, blood sugar crashes, and needing to live in a state of perpetual vigilance. But is that the only option? Are medications the only way? Not necessarily. When you address imbalances in the body, inflammation melts away, and symptoms disappear. Not everyone may be able to get off insulin, but a better quality of life is everything.
What is Type 1 Diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system attacks beta cells in the pancreas, the cells responsible for producing insulin. Insulin is a hormone the pancreatic cells release in response to increased blood sugar. It ushers glucose from the bloodstream into the cells to use as energy.
Without functioning beta cells, insulin production decreases, and blood sugar levels remain high. Over time, uncontrolled hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels) increases inflammation and the risk of serious health problems, such as heart disease and chronic kidney disease.
Type 1 is often called juvenile diabetes because it was historically diagnosed in childhood. It’s also still referred to as insulin-dependent diabetes since type 1 diabetics must give themselves insulin injections to keep up with their daily sugar or carbohydrate intake.
Symptoms of Diabetes
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some of the most common diabetes symptoms include: (1)
- Excessive urination
- Abnormal thirst
- Weight loss without trying
- Excessive hunger
- Blurry vision
- Numbness or tingling in hands or feet
- Chronic fatigue
- Dry skin
- Slowed healing
- Increased susceptibility to infections
Those with type 1 diabetes may also have stomach problems or digestive symptoms, like abdominal pain, nausea, or vomiting. Type 1 diabetes symptoms may come on very quickly or over several weeks, while signs of type 2 diabetes come on more gradually –over a few years.
How is Type 1 Diabetes Different from Type 2 Diabetes?
There are officially two types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2, but sometimes Alzheimer’s is referred to as “diabetes type 3.” While type 1 diabetes is a condition of reduced insulin secretion or insulin absence, type 2 diabetes is a condition of insulin resistance.
That means insulin is still being produced, but it’s not lowering blood sugar as it should. Instead, the cells are resistant to the effects of insulin. The pancreas keeps producing more insulin, but the cells don’t respond. Eventually, the pancreas gets worn out.
Type 2 diabetes is directly tied to diet and lifestyle factors. It’s more common in those 45 and older who are overweight and not physically active. (2)
How is Type 1 Diabetes Diagnosed?
To determine whether someone has type 1 diabetes, a doctor will evaluate symptoms and then order some lab tests: (3)(4)
- Hemoglobin A1C (A1C or HbA1C) – This is the primary test used to diagnose diabetes. It shows the amount of blood sugar carried by the hemoglobin in the red blood cells. As blood sugar levels increase, the amount of hemoglobin with sugar increases. A normal A1C is below 5.7%. A result between 5.7 and 6.4% indicates prediabetes and two or more tests of 6.5% A1C indicate diabetes.
- Random plasma glucose test – This test measures blood sugar levels at any time. It’s not purposely a fasting blood test. Blood glucose levels above 200 mg/dL indicate diabetes.
- Fasting blood test – This test measures blood sugar after fasting overnight. A result of below 99 mg/dL is normal, 100 to 125 indicates prediabetes, and 126 mg/dL and above indicates diabetes.
To confirm a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes, as opposed to type 2, healthcare professionals may also test for autoimmune antibodies.
The Fireman vs. The Carpenter in Healthcare
At The Wellness Way, we describe the mainstream viewpoint on healthcare versus our understanding and methods as the “fireman approach” or the “carpenter approach.”
Mainstream “fireman” healthcare professionals have two tools: an axe and a hose. The axe represents cutting things out in a surgical procedure. The hose represents using medications to extinguish inflammation, pain, and other symptoms.
The Wellness Way doctors are like carpenters. They assess the damage with testing and then create a personalized plan to rebuild the body with the required nutrients from foods and supplements. Sunshine, rest, and positive relationships are additional natural therapies that help with healing.
While these things are considered “complementary medicine” or even “alternative medicine,” scientific research backs up their effectiveness in healing.
Mainstream Medicine’s Approach to Type 1 Diabetes
Mainstream medicine’s treatment of type 1 diabetes usually focuses on insulin replacement and blood sugar balance.
Common Medications For Type 1 Diabetes
Diabetes management involves the administration of insulin through insulin injections or insulin pumps. Here are some common medications for type 1 diabetes: (5)
- Insulin – Synthetic human insulin produced in a lab, genetically modified insulin, or biosimilar insulin are all options.
- Pramlintide – Also given by injection, this medication helps keep blood sugar levels from going too high after eating.
- Metformin – Metformin comes as either a tablet or liquid taken with meals to lower blood sugar and reduce the amount of insulin needed.
However, all these medications have side effects, especially when used over long periods of time.
Surgical Procedures For Type 1 Diabetes
Another mainstream method of diabetes care involves surgery.
- Islet transplantation – This is a newer therapy that involves the transplantation of pancreatic islet cells from a healthy donor. (6)
- Stem cell transplant – This therapy involves growing stem cells in a lab and giving them the instructions for becoming pancreatic islet cells. Then they are transplanted into a type 1 diabetes patient, restoring their ability to make insulin. (7)
While the “fireman” doctors emphasize medications, they still recommend that type 1 diabetics follow a healthy diet.
Diet For Type 1 Diabetes
When mainstream medical doctors may mention eating a healthy diet, they usually refer to eating lower on the glycemic index and eating plenty of “healthy whole grains.”
The American Diabetes Association’s nutrition advice is pretty general: (8)
- Eat portions that are appropriate to your size and activity.
- Focus on non-starchy vegetables, protein foods, and carbohydrate foods like starches and fruits.
- Opt for nutrient-dense carbs with plenty of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
- Avoid added sugars, sodium, and unhealthy fats.
However, following these guidelines may not be enough to make a real difference. There may still be too much fruit, bread, starches, and natural sugars.
What Causes Type 1 Diabetes?
Specific genetic histories do increase your risk of developing type 1 diabetes, like any other autoimmune disease. However, genetic predisposition is only one leg of the 3-legged stool of autoimmune conditions described by Dr. Alessio Fasano. The other two are more critical: a leaky gut and (an) environmental trigger(s). (9)
That brings us back to the chiropractic field’s concept of the 3 T’s: Trauma, Toxins, and Thoughts.
Traumas (Physical Stressors)
Traumas or physical stressors can be acute or chronic. Chronic subluxations in the spine can inhibit nerve and blood flow to the small intestine, leading to dis-ease, and triggering an autoimmune response. Other physical stressors may come in the form of:
- Car accidents
- Military combat causing PTSD
- Severe illness or infection
- Sexual assault/rape
- Poor posture (tech neck)
- Repetitive motion injuries
Physical traumas and the potential of chiropractic care should not be underestimated in any chronic condition. Scientists have found that chiropractic care and spinal manipulation can help to calm the nervous system, taking the body out of fight-or-flight and allowing it to heal. (10)
Toxins (Biochemical Stressors)
Toxins are biochemical stressors that may be either natural or synthetic. Toxins associated with type 1 diabetes include:
- SUGAR – Sugar, in all its forms, is one of the leading “toxins” for type 1 diabetes.
- Viral infections – Researchers have connected enteroviruses like coxsackie B, cytomegalovirus, rubella, and rotavirus to type 1 diabetes. (11)
- Dysbiosis – An imbalance in beneficial versus detrimental bacterial strains can also contribute to the development of type 1 diabetes. A 2019 study confirmed that dysbiosis could be one cause of the increase in type 1 diabetes by affecting the immune response. (12)
- Chemical contaminants – Environmental chemicals are also linked to diabetes. In fact, they’ve even been dubbed “diabetogens” – “diabetes-causers.” Examples include arsenic, BPA, PCBs, and Phthalates. Many of these chemicals are found in drinking water or foods higher up in the food chain, like meats, eggs, and milk. (13)(14)
Keep in mind that most infections are opportunistic, meaning they are more likely to occur if the body is already compromised. Traumas and toxins are made worse by negative thought patterns and emotional stress.
Thoughts (Emotional Stressors)
Emotional stress comes from many sources:
- Watching or reading the news (fear/worry)
- Emotional stress from marriage, financial, career, or other issues
- A state of overwhelm by significant life changes, such as marriage, a new baby, graduation, divorce, or even moving to a new city.
- Grief/feelings of loss
Research published in 2020 confirmed that psychological stress (acute or chronic) could lead to a leaky gut and, eventually, a diagnosis of autoimmune disease, like type 1 diabetes. (15)
The Wellness Way Approach to Type 1 Diabetes
At The Wellness Way, we dig deeper to solve the health challenges others can’t. We begin with testing to discover any infections or imbalances. Then we develop a personalized care plan to help your body heal itself.
When you have type 1 diabetes, it’s not just about managing insulin and blood sugar. Because this type of diabetes is an autoimmune condition, it’s imperative that we look at the gut and how it’s affecting inflammation and the immune response. That’s where testing comes in.
Important Tests For Assessing Your Gut and Immune Health:
Anything that goes through your gastrointestinal system will affect your gut health. That’s why we start with food allergy testing. If you’re regularly eating something that causes an inflammatory response, it can also affect your blood sugar levels. From there, we’ll go on to assess the gut microbiome and any antibodies.
Here are some commonly recommended tests at The Wellness Way:
- Food Allergy Test: Immuno Food Allergy Test
- Gut Health Test: Genova GI Effects with Parasitology
- Cardiometabolic Panel: Cardiometabolic Panel
- Custom No Sugar Panel: No Sugar Panel
- Antibody Test: Aurora Life Sciences – Autoimmune 30+
Testing depends on which ones your Wellness Way practitioner considers most relevant for your symptoms, concerns, and health history. After getting some test results, we can better determine where to start with dietary changes and supplement recommendations.
Dietary Changes for Those with Type 1 Diabetes and Autoimmune Diseases:
With type 1 diabetes, it’s crucial to get off processed foods, taper back on sugar intake, and find which foods are causing inflammation. When the body is more balanced, it’s in a better position to heal. Here are some dietary guidelines for inflammatory and autoimmune conditions:
- No sugar or processed foods – Both increase inflammation.
- Specific nutrient-dense foods – Liver/organ meats, sauerkraut, and microgreens may help autoimmune conditions by delivering essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.
- Adequate fiber – A great supplement form is chicory root inulin.
- Consume an overall low carbohydrate, non-inflammatory, high-fat diet of organic whole foods to keep blood sugar more in balance.
- Gluten-free, overall grain-free – Gluten aggravates the gut lining, keeping autoimmune conditions active. Following a gluten-free diet may improve symptoms.
- Follow a Personalized Nutrition Program based on your food allergy test results.
- A Fasting Mimicking Diet? Clinical trials are being conducted to evaluate a specifically formulated calorie-restricted diet that mimics the effects of fasting. An animal model of this fasting-mimicking diet (FMD) shows a potential to reverse type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Not only can it normalize blood sugar and insulin, but it also lowers inflammation and promotes the regeneration of pancreatic beta cells. If you can regenerate the insulin-producing cells, you can restore insulin. (16)
- Omega-3 fatty acids & vitamin D – A clinical trial called the POSEIDON Trial is underway to see whether high doses of vitamin D and Omega-3s could slow or stop type 1 diabetes in newly diagnosed patients. (17)
Diet is a huge part of managing diabetes and can make a massive difference for those with diabetes or prediabetes, but supplements can help the body heal the digestive tract.
Supplements For Supporting Gut Health + Balancing The Immune Response
Every patient is different, but some supplements used at The Wellness Way for those struggling with immune imbalances are the following:
- Gymnema – Gymnema an excellent herb for promoting blood sugar balance. In fact, it appears to enhance natural insulin production in type 1 diabetics, possibly by regenerating any residual beta cells in the pancreas. (18) As a side benefit, it also suppresses sugar cravings!
- Oregon Grape – Oregon grape’s main active constituent, berberine, is known for its powerful blood sugar-lowering effects.
- Coleus forskohii – Coleus is another herb known for its blood sugar balancing effects.
- Blood Sugar Glandular – Our Blood Sugar Glandular has the nutrients needed for healthy insulin production and blood sugar balance.
- Coenzyme Q10 – This nutrient, found in our Q Power Softgels, may help diabetics maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.
- Probiotics – Megabiotic Powder may support an ideal microbial balance in the gut.
- Prebiotic – Chicory Root Inulin and other prebiotic fibers and starches can feed the good bacteria in the gut and promote a healthy mucus lining in the intestines. (19)
Everyone is different – what works for one person may not work for another. Part of that is due to body chemistry, genetics, and allergenic responses.
Lifestyle Changes & Complementary Therapies For Type 1 Diabetes and Autoimmunity
- Regular chiropractic care – Chiropractic care helps improve blood flow and nerve flow while decreasing overall physical stress on the body.
- Physical activity – Research shows resistance training improves blood glucose control, improving outcomes for type 1 diabetes. (20)
Can you reverse diabetes type 1? Possibly. The jury is still out, and each person is unique. However, there are many things can help reduce symptoms and insulin requirements. In the meantime, be a well-informed patient! Here are some resources for learning more about autoimmune disease, gut health, and blood sugar balance:
Educational Resources For Type 1 Diabetes & Autoimmunity
Videos & Webinars Related to Type 1 Diabetes & Autoimmunity
- Leaky Gut | A Different Perspective | Episode 117
- Autoimmune Disease: A Different Perspective | A Different Perspective | Episode 105
- Autoimmunity: The Body Doesn’t Make Mistakes | A Different Perspective | Episode 158
Articles to Support Those With Type 1 Diabetes & Autoimmunity
- Autoimmune Disease is NOT an Immune Issue
- Normalizing Autoimmune Disease –Is It Really a Lifelong Diagnosis?
- What Causes Leaky Gut and How Can You Heal It?
- Diabetes: What You Need to Know
- “Diabetes” Testing is DANGEROUSLY Incomplete! | The Wellness Way
- More Adolescents with Prediabetes + Future Insulin Shortages = Time for Different Approach
CONNECT WITH US!
We invite you to connect with us! Find an event at a clinic near you! Follow us on social media. Tune in to A Different Perspective each Saturday morning LIVE to get cutting-edge training directly from Dr. Patrick Flynn. Set up a no-obligation health consult with one of our doctors today. The best is yet to come! Think differently – and THRIVE. Reach out to a Wellness Way clinic today to get thorough testing and start on your health journey. We are here to help!
- Diabetes Symptoms | CDC
- Diabetes Risk Factors | CDC
- Diabetes Tests | CDC
- Type 1 diabetes – Diagnosis and treatment – Mayo Clinic
- Type 1 Diabetes – NIDDK (nih.gov)
- New type 1 diabetes therapy shows promise for long-term reversal in both humans, dogs — ScienceDaily
- Clinical Trial Tests Stem Cell Therapy to Cure People with Type 1 Diabetes (diatribe.org)
- Recipes & Nutrition | ADA (diabetes.org)
- Leaky gut and autoimmune diseases – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Neurobiological basis of chiropractic manipulative treatment of the spine in the care of major depression – PMC (nih.gov)
- Type 1 diabetes: A predictable disease – PMC (nih.gov)
- Gastrointestinal Microbiota and Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus: The State of Art – PMC (nih.gov)
- Is the Diabetes Epidemic Primarily Due to Toxins? – PMC (nih.gov)
- Toxins and Diabetes Mellitus: An Environmental Connection? | Diabetes Spectrum | American Diabetes Association (diabetesjournals.org)
- Psychological Stress, Intestinal Barrier Dysfunctions, and Autoimmune Disorders: An Overview – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Fasting-Mimicking Diet Promotes Ngn3-Driven β-Cell Regeneration to Reverse Diabetes: Cell
- POSEIDON – DRIF (diabetesresearch.org)
- Use of Gymnema sylvestre leaf extract in the control of blood glucose in insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Studies with inulin-type fructans on intestinal infections, permeability, and inflammation – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Effect of Aerobic and Resistance Exercise on Glycemic Control in Adults With Type 1 Diabetes – PubMed (nih.gov)