February 27, 2017

When you hear the word “diabetes”, you likely associate the condition with the body’s inability to process sugar properly. You also probably know that factors like genetics or being overweight can put you at risk, and factors like exercise and a strict diet can help reduce symptoms and risk of diabetes.

However, all of these commonly known facts actually relate to type 2 diabetes, not type 1. That’s not surprising, considering of the twenty-four million people living with diabetes in the U.S., only about 10% of them have type 1. While they share the same name, type 1 is actually pretty different than its counterpart, with varied symptoms and risk factors.

Unlike type 2 diabetes in which the body has too little insulin, or can’t use it effectively, people with type 1 have little to no insulin at all. In fact, it’s classified as an autoimmune disease because the body’s immune system actually attacks insulin-producing cells. However, without any insulin, cells can’t absorb the glucose needed to produce energy. Therefore, anyone with type 1 diabetes must take insulin every day to survive, using a pen, syringe, or pump.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to prevent type 1 diabetes no matter how many healthy habits you adopt, nor is there a cure. That said, lifestyle factors like diet and exercise are still useful to help manage symptoms. To learn more about the condition, watch this video to learn six important facts about type 1 diabetes.