Although there are two kinds of diabetes (type 1 and type 2), the effect on your body is similar. Both types of diabetes involve the body’s ability to produce and use insulin to control blood glucose levels.
With type 1 diabetes, your body cannot produce any insulin. Insulin is responsible for getting sugar into your body’s cells, where it’s needed and used to fuel all cell activities. Type 1 is an autoimmune disease, which occurs when the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues and organs. In this case, your immune system attacks insulin-producing cells within the pancreas.
Type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes almost always develops during childhood or early adulthood. Unfortunately, type 1 diabetes isn’t preventable. It is managed with insulin injections. Without insulin, blood glucose levels can fall dangerously low and cause a life-threatening situation.
Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is by far the most common form of diabetes. With type 2 diabetes, your body can produce insulin. However, your body can’t use this insulin as effectively as needed. Your cells become resistant to its effects. More and more insulin is needed to move sugar into the cells. Your body cannot make enough insulin to combat the growing resistance, and sugar backs up into your bloodstream, which is dangerous for your organs.
Type 2 has also been known as “adult-onset diabetes.” It can develop over time as a result of poor diet and/or lack of exercise and is associated with being overweight. However, it is becoming more common in younger people as well, including young children. It’s important to realize that you don’t have to be overweight to develop type 2, although many people who have type 2 diabetes are overweight. There is also evidence that indicates family history of diabetes (genetic predisposition) plays a role. The first option to treat type 2 diabetes is a change in diet and exercise. If that doesn’t work, prescription medications are available to help manage blood glucose levels.
One of the most important differences between type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes is that the latter is both preventable and potentially reversible. Proper diet, exercise and lifestyle changes can allow blood sugar levels to return to normal.
If you or you know someone who is experiencing symptoms which may be related to diabetes, consult a physician right away.
Is a Cure on the Way for Type 1 Diabetes?
In late 2012, a team of medical researchers uncovered1 long-sought-after stem cells in the pancreas that can change their identity and start producing insulin. Scientists were able to make changes to some of these cells so they could make insulin in the same way someone without diabetes would. The researchers think that this could one day reinvigorate the pancreas, using its own regenerated cells to make insulin. This could potentially help rid a person of type 1 diabetes. In fact, a paper published in the journal Cell2 in October 2014, announced that stem cell researchers have succeeded in transplanting such cells in mice, with positive results.
In the Meantime … Exercise for Good Health for Both Types!
While research is moving forward, a cure for type 1 diabetes is not expected any time soon. In the meantime, exercise is essential. Although exercise cannot cure type 1, a sedentary lifestyle can keep medication from working to overcome the problems associated with the disease. Since insulin is the root problem with type 1 diabetes, you have to adjust it accordingly when starting any exercise plan – your body has lost the ability to do this automatically.
Exercise can play a significant role in preventing and/or managing type 2 diabetes. While genetic factors can contribute to type 2 diabetes, it often responds especially well to changes in diet and exercise.
As with any changes in lifestyle, consult your physician before you start a new exercise program. Your doctor will have excellent advice and recommendations for tailoring your new lifestyle to manage your type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
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1Brenda Neugent. Stem Cell Research Points the Way to Possible Type 1 Cure. http://diabeteshealth.com/read/2012/11/27/7720/stem-cell-research-points-way-to-possible-type-1-cure–/ Nov 27, 2012. Accessed January 26, 2015.
2Available at: http://www.cell.com/cell/abstract/S0092-8674(14)01228-8. Accessed January 26, 2015.