The causes of type 1 diabetes are genetic and possibly environmental factors that cause your body’s immune system to destroy the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. There’s a theory that the routine viral illnesses we all get might stimulate this immune response in some people. Essentially, there’s nothing a person can do to prevent type 1.

Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, is absolutely preventable. I told you previously that the beginning factor in type 2 is insulin resistance. Some of that is age-related, which you cannot do anything about, but the vast majority is related to your life choices. When you carry too much unhealthy weight, you are more insulin resistant. When you eat a high-carb diet (starches and sugars), it increases insulin resistance. Unless, of course, you are an Olympic athlete. Then you burn all that energy. Since the rest of us are not Olympians, we just store it, eventually, in the form of fat. That increases the insulin resistance. This factor, combined with natural aging and genetics, leads to the pancreas getting weaker and being unable to keep up.

Do you know what else hurts this process? The more carbs you eat, the more insulin you make. And what does insulin do? It makes you gain weight. Which, in turn, makes you more insulin-resistant. And that causes you to make more insulin. Which makes you gain weight. See the problem? It’s a feedback loop of destruction.

So even our kids and young people need to learn healthier habits. They can get away with mac and cheese, pop, and candy when young. But those habits persist into adulthood and lead down this pathway. Next week, I’ll be breaking down the treatment options for Type 1 and 2 diabetes.

Dr. Davenport