Authored by: Eric Venn-Watson, MD
You might think twice before grabbing a second donut at the office, or politely pass on dessert in an effort to lower your sugar intake, but did you know you could still be at risk of developing diabetes even if you avoid sugary foods?
If you’ve got type 1 diabetes, even avoiding sugary foods won’t prevent you from having a hyperglycemic or hypoglycemic episode if you aren’t properly managing your blood sugar with medication.
The occurrences of diabetes is high, affecting at least one in every ten adults, according to the CDC. While type 1 diabetes is not curable or preventable, we can work to prevent and even reverse type 2 diabetes that is caused by poor diet and health patterns.
First things first: let’s look at the differences and similarities between types 1 and 2 diabetes, and explore options we have in preventing and reversing diabetes in the future.
What is Diabetes?
Simply put, if your blood sugar is consistently too high and your body can’t lower it on its own, you likely have diabetes.
Blood sugar, also called glucose, enters the blood from the foods you eat. Glucose comes primarily from carbohydrates, but those carbs aren’t limited to just sugars and starches in “cheat” foods like donuts. Carbohydrates come in the form of “healthy” foods, too, like fruits and vegetables.
When you eat food, your body turns the carbohydrates in your food into glucose. The glucose in your blood is used for energy. Your pancreas produces a hormone called insulin, which moves glucose from your blood into your cells to be burned as energy.
In a person who is diabetic, there isn’t enough insulin to remove glucose from the blood, and this results in high blood sugar levels. The difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes has to do with insulin production.
Type 1 Diabetes
A person who has type 1 diabetes cannot produce insulin, or produces too little insulin to have any effect on blood glucose. This type of diabetes is an autoimmune disease that can’t be prevented or cured. It is thought that type 1 diabetes is caused by genetics. Type 1 diabetes can be managed with medication. The immune system of a person who has type 1 diabetes attacks the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, so no insulin is made.
A person with type 1 diabetes is said to be insulin-dependent, which means they must manage their diabetes by taking insulin medications. Insulin can be taken in the form of a shot or a pump.
Type 2 Diabetes
The body of someone with type 2 diabetes does not make insulin well, or doesn’t use it efficiently. This results in too much glucose in the blood, called hyperglycemia. This can be a result of insulin resistance, a condition where a person’s cells don’t respond to insulin as well as they should.
Type 2 diabetes can develop at any age, but it is most prevalent in middle-aged and older adults. Though the biggest risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes are obesity and lack of physical activity, genetics do play a role.
A person with type 2 diabetes may need medication to control their diabetes, including oral medication like metformin as well as insulin.
Which is More Severe, Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes?
Both types of diabetes can cause major health issues including cardiovascular disease. However, type 1 diabetes is often more severe than type 2 diabetes. Additionally, type 2 diabetes may be able to be reversed or avoided by maintaining good lifestyle habits and a healthy diet at the pre-diabetes stage.
Because type 1 diabetes is not curable or reversible, it is generally harder on a person’s overall health than type 2 diabetes. However, it should be noted that type 2 diabetes that is not well regulated can lead to very serious health conditions, such as:
These problems can develop over time and become more severe in a type 2 diabetic who does not properly manage their blood sugar levels.
Which Type of Diabetes Are You Born With?
A person with type 1 diabetes is often born with the disease, although type 1 diabetes can be developed. Normally, a person with type 1 diabetes that does not have it at birth develops it as a child, which is why it is often times referred to as juvenile diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is often developed later as a result of a poor diet, unhealthy weight, and lack of physical activity. Genetic factors do play a role in predisposing a person to type 2 diabetes, but even those genetic factors do not mean a person will definitely develop diabetes.
You can decrease your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by maintaining a healthy weight, eating a well-balanced diet, and exercising regularly. These three factors alone are crucial in keeping your blood sugar levels in the healthy, normal range, and working against any genetic factors that might predispose you to developing diabetes.
You can also promote healthy blood sugar levels by making an effort to consume healthy fats like C15:0 that help to maintain metabolic function. Also known as pentadecanoic acid, research suggests C15:0 is the first essential fatty acid to be discovered in 90 years. Studies show that higher levels of C15:0 in a person’s diet are associated with lower occurrences of type 2 diabetes and a lower risk of type 1 diabetes.
C15:0 and Type 2 Diabetes
So how can a little fatty acid found mostly in full fat dairy help support healthy blood sugar levels? C15:0 gets deep into your cells to support mitochondrial function, bolster your cell walls, and help support your cellular health. Your cells get healthy, you get healthy.
C15:0 is an odd chain saturated fatty acid that helps your body maintain proper cell function.* Specifically, C15:0 naturally activates receptors (called PPARs) throughout our body that help to regulate our metabolism and immunity, as well as our mood, appetite, and sleep. While some saturated fats are bad for us (i.e. even-chain saturated fats), odd-chain saturated fats like C15:0 are associated with good health markers like:
Along with a proper exercise plan and a balanced diet, making an effort to include C15:0 in your daily routine can help you be proactive in your healthcare and in keeping your weight and blood sugar in check.
Type 1 diabetes is not curable or preventable. Normally, people with type 1 diabetes are born with this disease, but it can be controlled with medication.
Type 2 diabetes is a disease affecting every age and sect of the population. Poor diets and lack of exercise have long been the culprits of type 2 diabetes, but you can fight back by making lifestyle changes and incorporating more C15:0 in your diet to help support your overall health.
To learn more about C15:0 and how it supports metabolism, click here!
STEPHANIE VENN-WATSON, dvm, mph
Dr. Stephanie Venn-Watson is a veterinary epidemiologist dedicated to improving both human and animal health. Before co-founding Seraphina Therapeutics and Epitracker, Inc,. she worked for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, and the Department of Defense. Dr. Venn-Watson has over 70 peer-reviewed scientific publications and is an inventor on 40+ patents. Her dedication to discovering natural compounds to improve global health has been featured in/on Forbes, NPR Science Friday, PBS, National Geographic, BBC, and more.
ERIC VENN-WATSON, MD
Dr. Eric Venn-Watson is a physician, US Navy veteran and serial entrepreneur. Prior to Seraphina Therapeutics, Eric founded multiple companies in therapeutics discovery, healthcare analytics, and medical device industries as well as working in leadership roles in several life science companies.