Type 1 diabetes is known as juvenile diabetes even though many can get this type later in life. Type 1 diabetes is a disease where the pancreas does not make enough insulin. The pancreas is the organ that is responsible for the synthesis and secretion of insulin into the blood.  Insulin is responsible for bringing blood sugars into the cell for metabolism.  Low insulin leads to high blood sugars which can be lead to nerve and tissue damage and even death.

Pancreatic insufficiency is due to either genetic causes such as autoimmune disorders and/or due to a virus where the pancreatic islet cells are destroyed or altered.  People with type 1 diabetes are insulin dependent meaning they require insulin injections to maintain normal blood sugar levels.

Symptoms of type 1 diabetes include:

Constant thirst and urination: the inability of your cells to utilize glucose causes a metabolic imbalance leading to the imbalance of fluids.

Fatigue and Hunger: Cells require glucose for energy. The inability to get the glucose into the cells can lead to feelings of fatigue and low energy.  The cells are essentially starving, which can lead to hunger even after eating a meal.

Blurred vision: High blood sugars can impact fluid and electrolyte balance and pull fluid from the eye. This effects lens function. Prolonged blurred vision can lead to blindness.

Type 1 diabetics need to be vigilant with their food planning, exercise and insulin treatment. Proper food planning helps maintain blood sugar levels and balance or predict the amount of insulin needed. Insulin may need to be adjusted many times during the lifetime due to growth, aging and exercise levels.

The basic function of metabolism, glucose and insulin mechanism.

You require food for energy. Once you eat food or beverages with calories, your blood sugars begin to rise. Your body responds by secreting insulin. Insulin acts like a lock and key system for your cells. Your cells require blood sugar for the conversion of energy. The cell has insulin receptors. The insulin attaches to these receptors to unlock the cells doors and allow the sugar to enter. If insulin is low, blood sugar will not enter the cells and the cells do not function correctly. The sugar remains in the blood stream causing a lot of damage to surrounding cells and tissue.

In a normally functioning cell, the blood sugar would enter the cell to be used as energy. Blood sugar levels would restore to normal and insulin would also reduce and return to normal. Exercise also  increases insulin sensitivity which helps insulin work more efficiently with the cell membrane allowing blood sugars to enter and metabolize.  Type 1 diabetics have to careful with exercise because it can actually lead to low blood sugars.  Increases in exercise may require adjustments to injected insulin.  Exercise is essential for healthy metabolic tissue and body composition. Most type 1 diabetics will keep a high sugar snack available after or during exercise if they experience low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).

Most common low blood sugar symptoms:

Heart palpitations



Confusion or abnormal behavior


Additional hypoglycemic symptoms may include:


Blurred vision


Loss of consciousness (“pass out”)


Causes of type 1 diabetes:

It is still unclear to what causes type 1 diabetes. There are many studies that link certain viruses that specifically attack pancreatic cells.

Low vitamin D levels have also been associated with type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is more prevalent in northern parts of the world that receive less sunlight. Vitamin D is important for many functions of the immune system. One theory is that people with a genetic predisposition are more susceptible due to a low immune response to viruses and toxic cellular damage.  Some may have a genetic response to oxidative damage where the cell sends signals to destroy healthy pancreatic cells, also known as an “autoimmune disorder”.

Omega 3’s (EPA and DHA) along with Vitamin D supplementation (if lack of sun exposure) may help reduce the risk of type 1 diabetes. If you have a family history, you may want to get your D levels checked regularly and add healthy omega 3 fats to your diet. Omega 3’s play an important role in the reduction of inflammatory responses from oxidative damage to cells  The theory is to reduce this inflammatory response that is causing the  autoimmune disease.   The correct balance and form of DHA and EPA is important for protective qualities.

“Normal Ranges” www.webmd.com

Blood glucose
Fasting blood glucose: 70-99 milligrams per deciliter (3.9-5.5mmol/L)
2 hours after eating (postprandial): 70-145 mg/dL (3.9-8.1 mmol/L)
Random (casual): 70-125 mg/dL (3.9-6.9 mmol/L)

See type 2 Diabetes for diabetes diagnosis.