What is Type 1 diabetes?
When we eat, our body breaks down carbohydrates into smaller sugar units called glucose. Carbohydrates are found in starchy foods (like bread, potatoes and pasta) and also in fruit, some dairy products, sugar and other sweet foods. The glucose then moves into our blood stream. Our body needs glucose to survive.
Normally, special cells in our pancreas (an organ in our body) produce insulin. After eating, insulin is needed to move the glucose from our blood and into our body cells where it’s used as energy. But, in Type 1 diabetes there is an autoimmune reaction. This means that the body attacks its own cells in the pancreas. As a result, the insulin-producing cells are destroyed and someone with Type 1 doesn’t make any insulin.
This causes glucose to build up in the blood and leads to symptoms like thirst, needing to pass urine often, tiredness and weight loss (as the body has to break down fat to get energy).
What causes Type 1 diabetes?
It’s a common misunderstanding that Type 1 diabetes is caused by eating too much sugar – it’s not. In fact, nobody knows exactly what causes the autoimmune reaction – but we do know that it’s got nothing to do with lifestyle, and there’s nothing you can do to prevent it.
How do you treat Type 1 diabetes?
Currently there is no cure and people with Type 1 diabetes have to take insulin every day to survive. Insulin is given by injections or through a pump.