I read different things everywhere. I read that a high carb diet causes diabetes, then I read that that is a complete myth. Can anybody give me a straight forward answer about what (could) cause diabetes?
Well, there’s no real straightforward answer but I’ll give you as much info as I can.
The two types of diabetes you hear about the most are called type1 and type2 diabetes. They are essentially two different diseases with the same name (due to the fact that the name describes the symptoms, not the cause). Let’s start with type2 since it is the most common, and the type most people are referring to when they say “diabetes.”
Type 2 diabetes is what happens when a person builds up a tolerance to their own insulin (known as insulin resistance), or cannot produce enough insulin to regulate their blood sugar. It is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, though in most people, it is the environmental factors that play the biggest role. Environmental factors that contribute to type2 diabetes are overweight, poor diet, and lack of exercise. Though no specific food group causes diabetes, eating too much of any food that’s unhealthy, like sugars and other simpler carbohydrates, or saturated fats, can contribute to a person developing the disease. The more overweight you are and the more unhealthy your diet, the more risk you have of developing type2. There is also a genetic factor to type2, which means that if family members have the disease, you are at greater risk. This also means that in some rarer cases, people who are a healthy weight and eat a healthy diet can develop type2 as well, though this usually happens when they are in late adulthood.
Now to the rarer form, type 1 diabetes. Type1 is also called juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes. It is an autoimmune disease in which the patient’s own immune system attacks the insulin producing islet cells of the pancreas, rendering the patient incapable of producing their own insulin and reliant upon insulin injection to live. Type1 is a bit more of a medical mystery. It seems to have a stronger genetic component than type2, but definitely has environmental factors as well (it is usually triggered by a virus). The link between diet and type1 is unknown, with some believe there is no link whatsoever and others believing diet may be a contributing factor. Unlike type2 diabetes, however, it is very common fo type1 to strike in a child who is of a healthy weight and who eats a healthy diet.
Hope that helps.
Editing to clarify: Type 1 is not caused by a virus attacking the pancreas as Nana guessed, though she is right that there is usually a virus involved. The viral infection seems to trigger the autoimmune response, and in a recent study done in the UK researchers were able to identify the same virus in 75% of children who had died of undiagnosed type1 diabetes. This has led to speculation that perhaps a vaccination agains that virus could work as a sort of proxy vaccine for type1 (or at least delay the onset in some people).
Nana, however, is very wrong regarding type2. Not only has it in proved that there is a strong link between diet, overweight and type2 diabetes, but much is also known about exactly how poor diet causes type2. She might be confused because of the rare cases in which a person does develop it strictly due to genetics.
Type 1 Diabetes is INHERITED. its cause is genetic, and it is unavoidable. Type 1 Diabetes needs IMMEDIATE medical attention, and the treatment is insulin injections.
Type 2 Diabetes is caused by being overweight. Type 2 Diabetes is NOT caused by ANY food — not sugar, not carbs. However, eating too much of either WILL make you fat, and that can cause diabetes.
If you have Type 1 Diabetes, it is genetic and is unavoidable.
if you have Type 2 Diabetes, it can be avoided by a proper diet and proper weight control. ASK YOUR DOCTOR what a proper weight for YOU is, and then keep your weight there. A proper diet without junk food and with only a little sugar is needed, and a daily program of HARD exercise is needed to keep your weight NORMAL throughout your life.
get the RAL answers here:
web site for the American Diabetes Association. This is the group that sets ALL of the standards and practices for diabetics in the United States. most other countries follow this information as well.
No wonder you (and a whole lot of other folks) are confused–just from the answers you’re getting here. In general, they are still not completely sure what “causes” diabetes. New things are being discovered about it all the time which changes the old beliefs. Right now they are considering that genetics has a significant affect on whether a normal person gets diabetes–but that’s not the only cause because all these people who are suddenly becoming Type 2 can’t all have a “diabetes gene(s)”; some of these people have no or few direct ancestors with diabetes and yet they have become diabetic. And being obese or eating badly is not the cause either because there are people who are fat and/or eat badly who do not come down with diabetes. Exercise too probably has something to do with it–when we all had to do far more manual labor just to get the basic things in life done, we probably had less diabetes going around; now with all the labor saving devices we have–washing machines, car washes, dish washers, Rumbas, maids that clean your house, cars/buses/trains, scooters and whatnot, we are doing so little muscle moving. So, it’s probably a combination of several things that force your body to stop working correctly–genetics could contribute, the foods you eat (or don’t eat–I hear there are people who don’t eat vegetables), your activity levels, maybe even toxins and additives in our food and water. I’m pretty sure if they could pinpoint the cause of diabetes, they would be much closer to having found a cure or a preventative or something.