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How To Control Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes Causes

Type 1 Diabetes: Advice for How to Control Your Blood Sugar

Insulin is a hormone that helps move sugar, or glucose, into your body’s tissues. Your cells use it as fuel.

Damage to beta cells from type 1 diabetes throws the process off. Glucose doesnât move into your cells because insulin isnât there to do the job. Instead, it builds up in your blood, and your cells starve. This causes high blood sugar, which can lead to:

  • Dehydration. When thereâs extra sugar in your blood, you pee more. Thatâs your bodyâs way of getting rid of it. A large amount of water goes out with that urine, causing your body to dry out.
  • Weight loss. The glucose that goes out when you pee takes calories with it. Thatâs why many people with high blood sugar lose weight. Dehydration also plays a part.
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis . If your body can’t get enough glucose for fuel, it breaks down fat cells instead. This creates chemicals called ketones. Your liver releases the sugar it stores to help out. But your body canât use it without insulin, so it builds up in your blood, along with the acidic ketones. This mix of extra glucose, dehydration, and acid buildup is known as ketoacidosis and can be life-threatening if not treated right away.
  • Damage to your body. Over time, high glucose levels in your blood can harm the nerves and small blood vessels in your eyes, kidneys, and heart. They can also make you more likely to get hardened arteries, or atherosclerosis, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

Causes Of Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition, where the immune system mistakes the cells in your pancreas as harmful and attacks them.

Without insulin, your body will break down its own fat and muscle, resulting in weight loss. This can lead to a serious short-term condition called diabetic ketoacidosis. This is when the bloodstream becomes acidic, you develop dangerous levels of ketones in your blood stream and become severely dehydrated.

This results in the body being unable to produce insulin, which is required to move glucose out of the blood and into your cells to be used for energy. This is called Type 1 diabetes.

Read more about the causes of type 1 diabetes

Understanding The Drug Process So You Can Take Control Of Your Diabetes Care

It is always good to have a conversation with your healthcare professional about the benefits of using any and all new medications and dont be shy about asking about what the cost will be if you agree to try a recommended medication.

When the FDA approves new medications, this government regulatory agency stipulates who can receive the drug and for what conditions based on data presented usually by a pharmacuetical company who developed the drug.

This information is based on results of clinical trials that were conducted to see how well people respond to the medication when compared to no treatment or to another effective medication. Given the individual nature of people’s response to medications and the wide variety of complications you may face, doctors rely more often on the use of drugs for reasons beyond its initially approved purpose.

It is becoming increasingly more common for drugs to be prescribed for reasons that may be suitable to a patient’s needs that fall outside its original approvala practice called off-label use. What this means is that when there are no enough studies to demonstrate its use for a particular condition but your doctor recognizes that the way it works is likely to beneficial for you, it is worth trying it.

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What Is Type 1 Diabetes

Diabetes occurs when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high. Blood glucose is your main source of energy and comes mainly from the food you eat. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps the glucose in your blood get into your cells to be used for energy. Another hormone, glucagon, works with insulin to control blood glucose levels.

In most people with type 1 diabetes, the bodys immune system, which normally fights infection, attacks and destroys the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. As a result, your pancreas stops making insulin. Without insulin, glucose cant get into your cells and your blood glucose rises above normal. People with type 1 diabetes need to take insulin every day to stay alive.

How Do I Check My Blood Glucose Level Why Is This Important

Improving control in Type 1 Diabetes  Edinburgh Centre ...

Checking your blood glucose level is important because the results help guide decisions about what to eat, your physical activity and any needed medication and insulin adjustments or additions.

The most common way to check your blood glucose level is with a blood glucose meter. With this test, you prick the side of your finger, apply the drop of blood to a test strip, insert the strip into the meter and the meter will show your glucose level at that moment in time. Your healthcare provider will tell you how often youll need to check your glucose level.

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Record Your Blood Glucose Levels

Recording your blood glucose levels comes highly recommended. By recording your levels you can start to build up a history of results and draw conclusions from results.

Recording your blood sugar levels can help you:

  • Improve dosage decisions
  • Identify which foods are best for your levels and which arent so good
  • Learn from periods of high sugar levels such as during illness
  • See how your sugar levels are affected by exercise

Alternatives To Injecting Insulin

There has been plenty of research done in recent years to develop ways to administer insulin other than by injection. These have included insulin nasal and oral sprays, patches, tablets and inhalers. After many years of work, some of the methods being researched are showing a degree of success. However, it will be some time before any of these devices will be available to people with diabetes in the UK.

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How Are Blood Sugar Levels Measured

Your blood sugar levels will tell you how well the care plan is working. There are two ways to measure blood sugar:

  • Daily blood sugars. These are the measurements you take throughout the day, typically using a glucose meter. If you wear a continuous glucose monitor , you can see the blood sugar level on the display at any time.
  • Blood sugars over the past few months. Every few months youll meet with the care team, and theyll send you for a blood test. The results will show how often your blood glucose was in and out of the healthy range in the 23 months before the test.

At your regular diabetes checkups, youll discuss blood sugar results with the care team, and theyll update the care plan as needed.

When To Call A Professional

Controlling Type 1 Diabetes

If you or your child has type 1 diabetes, see your doctor regularly to make sure that you are keeping good control of your blood sugar. You should also be checked regularly for early signs of complications such as heart disease, eye problems and skin infections.

Your doctor most likely will suggest that you also visit other specialists regularly. These may include a podiatrist to check your feet and an ophthalmologist to check your eyes for signs of diabetes complications.

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What Foods Should Be Avoided If You Have Type 1 Diabetes

People with type 1 diabetes should avoid many of the same unhealthy foods that everyone should limit. In short, this means restricting processed foods and food with a high glycemic load. This includes

  • sodas ,
  • processed/refined sugars ,
  • trans fats , and
  • high-fat animal products.

Restrict white foods i.e. pasta, bread, scones, cookies, flour, sugar, white potato, etc. This is an easy way to remove high glycemic load foods. It is important to remember that, unlike type 2 diabetes, food choices didn’t specifically contribute to developing type 1 diabetes but they do impact how someone manages diabetes. People with type 1 and 2 diabetes alike are at risk for the complications that stem from high blood sugar, such as cardiovascular disease and obesity. Because of this, attention to healthy eating is important and foods that increase the risk of cardiovascular disease should be avoided.

Type 1 Diabetes And The Keto Diet

There has been considerable interest in using the high-fat, very-low-carb ketogenic diet to control diabetes, including type 1 diabetes. Normally, our bodies get energy from sugar, which comes from carbohydrate-rich foods. By restricting carbs and loading up on fat, the keto diet makes your body rely on ketones, which your liver produces from stored fat.

The subject is still a controversial one. One very small study found that adults with type 1 diabetes who followed a keto diet had well-controlled blood-sugar levels, but that the diet may have increased cholesterol levels as well as episodes of low blood sugar, which can be serious. Experts still don’t know much about how the keto diet affects our bodies, so don’t make any major changes in your eating without consulting a specialist.

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How Does Type 1 Diabetes Affect Your Weight

The above symptoms tend to develop quite quickly, over a few days or weeks. After treatment is started, the symptoms soon settle and go. However, without treatment, the blood sugar level becomes very high and acids form in the bloodstream . If this persists you will become lacking in fluid in the body and are likely to lapse into a coma and die.

What Foods Should You Avoid With Type 1 Diabetes

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If you have type 1 diabetes, you should stay away from refined carbohydratesincluding white rice, chips, candy, and cake as well as fried foods, energy drinks, juice, and flavored milks. People with type 1 diabetes may need certain high-sugar foods if their blood sugar dips too low but, otherwise, these items will spike your blood sugar levels to unhealthy highs.

Your best bets for beverages are water, milk, and non-sugar-sweetened beverages like diet soda or Crystal Light, which won’t raise your blood sugar as much as regular sodas or energy drinks.

Stay away from vegetables with added sauces and choose fruits over fruit juice. As for dairy like milk and yogurt, low- and non-fat versions are the best, especially those without added sugar.

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What Are The Type 1 Diabetes Diet Plan Restrictions And Guidelines

While there are no absolute diet restrictions in type 1 diabetes, healthier food choices can make control a lot easier. For example, meal timing is very important for people with type 1 diabetes. Meals must match insulin doses.

Most people with type 1 diabetes use a long-acting insulin , which means it will continue to lower blood sugar over 24 hours. This means it will lower blood sugar even if there is no glucose from dietary carbohydrates to act upon. Because of this, skipping a meal or eating late puts a person at risk for low blood sugar .

On the other hand, eating a larger meal or a meal that contains more carbohydrates that normal will raise blood sugar more than the basal insulin can dispose of. In this situation, a short-acting insulin must be given in the appropriate dose to match the carbohydrate content of the meal and the level of blood glucose before eating.

Eating meals with a low glycemic load makes meal timing easier. Low glycemic load meals raise blood sugar slowly and steadily, leaving plenty of time for the body to respond.

While some people go overboard with diet restriction, it is also important to consider the nutritional balance in a meal. Specifically, fat, protein, and fiber all slow down the absorption of carbohydrates, and thus allow time for insulin to work, gradually moving glucose out of the blood and into the target tissues. Slower digestion and absorption maintains a more stable blood sugar level.

  • brown rice,
  • pastries, and
  • white potatoes.

Advances In Diabetes Management: Introducing New Therapies

There has been concerted effort to develop new treatments either to enhance the function of insulin or improve glucose management. This push has occurred perhaps because more people have type 1 diabetes and are not achieving the target hemoglobin A1c level of below 7% or 6.5%.

While it is common to believe that people with type 1 diabetes are at a healthy weight or even underweight, this is no longer true. In fact, more than two in three individuals with type 1 diabetes patients are facing overweight or obesity, further complicating their health status.1

So it is understandable that the research is continuing with the goal of findings add-on drugs or adjunctive medications that will complement the effects of the insulin and help you achieve a stable blood glucose level with more time-in-range. To date, many of these new treatments have been tested in individuals with type 2 diabetes.Yet, there is good reason to believe that these same medications may be helpful to many with type 1 diabetes as well.

There are a few medications that are typically used to help manage type 2 diabetes that have been making their ways into the type 1 diabetes world, specifically, metformin however, it has not been approved by the FDA for use specifically in people with type 1 diabetes but is becoming a common consideration, particularly in anyone who is struggling to keep blood sugar in control and facing weight gain.

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What Foods Can You Eat With Type 1 Diabetes

That healthy diet for someone with type 1 diabetes is not too different from the one we should all be following, namely a focus on the grains, vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy. Remember that almost three-quarters of Americans are overweight or obese, which means they may already have type 2 diabetes or are at risk for it.

“When it comes to maintaining diabetes control, certain carbohydrates may be better than others,” says Dr. Adimoolam. “For example, complex carbohydrates are typically better than simple carbohydrates.”

Examples of complex carbohydrates include lentils or beans, and whole-grain bread or pasta. These foods have a lower glycemic index than their simple carbohydrate counterparts, which means they don’t raise blood sugar as much. Meats and fats have few or no carbs and have a minimal effect on blood sugar. Opt for lean meats and “healthy” fats, such as avocados, nuts and seeds. Cook with oil rather than solid products like butter or margarine.

Testing For Type 1 Diabetes


A simple blood test will let you know if you have diabetes. If youve gotten your blood sugar tested at a health fair or pharmacy, follow up at a clinic or doctors office to make sure the results are accurate.

If your doctor thinks you have type 1 diabetes, your blood may also be tested for autoantibodies that are often present with type 1 diabetes but not with type 2. You may have your urine tested for ketones , which also indicate type 1 diabetes instead of type 2.

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How Is Type 1 Diabetes Diagnosed In Children

Type 1 diabetes typically manifests during two age ranges. The first is in young children between the ages of 4 and 7, and the second is in young adults between the age of 10 and 14.

Though children can transition healthily into adulthood with type 1 diabetes, its important to identify this condition when it first manifests to prevent late-term complications like diabetic ketoacidosis .

If your child develops any of the following symptoms, we recommend taking them in for a check-up with their pediatric care doctor.

What Diets Are Recommended For A Type 1 Diabetes Eating Plan

Foods to include in a meal plan

  • Insulin-matched whole-grain carbohydrates
  • Nutrient dense, highly colorful foods
  • Low glycemic load diet plans
  • People with type 1 diabetes should follow the same healthy meal plans as all other people interested in preventing chronic disease, However, they must be more aware of the carbohydrate content of their meals so they can match their insulin dose appropriately. In order to do so, there are a few rules of thumb that can be followed.

  • In general, one unit of insulin covers 15 grams of carbohydrate. This is equivalent to 1/2 c of whole grains, 1 c of starchy veggies , or even less of a refined carbohydrate. This is a generality, and each person with type 1 diabetes needs to know his or her personal insulin-to-carbohydrate ratio. The ratio changes depending on the duration of diabetes, level of physical activity, and body weight. Insulin dosing also needs to be adjusted to take into account the blood glucose level before the meal. If blood sugar is above the target level, for example above 120, additional units of insulin are added to further bring it down. Generally, one additional unit will reduce blood sugar by about 50 points, but again, this varies for each individual.
  • When carbohydrates are consumed, they should be low glycemic load.
  • When fats and proteins are consumed, they should primarily come from plant sources.
  • fresh vegetables,
  • plant-fats such as olive oil and nuts,
  • fish such as sardines, and
  • occasional meat and dairy.
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    What Are The Symptoms Of Type 1 Diabetes

    Symptoms of type 1 diabetes are serious and usually happen quickly, over a few days to weeks. Symptoms can include

    • increased thirst and urination
    • trouble breathing
    • trouble paying attention or feeling confused

    DKA is serious and dangerous. If you or your child have symptoms of DKA, contact your health care professional right away, or go to the nearest hospital emergency room.


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