26 posts in the category “Diabetes”

How many kinds of diabetes are there? Lots. Explore type 1, type 2, LADA and more

Posted November 29th, 2017 by

Confused about the different types of diabetes? Never heard of other forms of diabetes beyond “1” and “2”? You’re not alone. As American Diabetes Month comes to a close, we’re shedding some light on this topic. Overall, more than 30 million Americans (9.4 percent of the U.S. population) have diabetes. Here’s a guide to help you and your loved ones learn more about the various kinds of diabetes. Join PatientsLikeMe today to connect with and learn from members living with 10+ different forms of diabetes.

Well-known (but still misunderstood) types of diabetes

People are most familiar with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, so let’s start with some stats, facts and myths about those:

  • Type 1 diabetes – About 5% of people with diabetes have type 1 diabetes (previously called insulin-dependent or juvenile diabetes), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children, teens, and young adults, but it can develop at any age (some members on PatientsLikeMe say they were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in their 60s). It’s caused by an autoimmune reaction (where the body attacks itself by mistake) that destroys the cells in the pancreas that make insulin (the hormone that lets blood sugar into the body’s cells for energy). Because of this autoimmune attack, the pancreas makes little to no insulin (so people need to inject insulin). Diet and lifestyle habits don’t cause type 1 diabetes. People with type 1 diabetes can eat normal, healthy meals and have sweets (in moderation, like the general population) when they follow their treatment plan. Connect with 3,000+ members with type 1 diabetes on PatientsLikeMe.
  • Type 2 diabetes – At least 90% of Americans with diabetes have type 2 diabetes, the CDC says. It usually develops in people over age 45, but more and more children, teens and young adults are also getting diagnosed. In most people with type 2 diabetes, the pancreas makes extra insulin because cells in the body have become “insulin resistant” — they don’t respond normally to allow blood sugar in as energy. Many people think that being overweight is the only risk factor for type 2 diabetes. While weight can play a role in the condition, other risk factors include family history, ethnicity and age. Most overweight people never develop diabetes, and many people who do develop type 2 diabetes are at a normal weight or only slightly overweight, according to the American Diabetes Association. Treatments for type 2 diabetes range from dietary changes and exercise to oral or injected medications. Connect with 19,000 members with type 2 diabetes on PatientsLikeMe.

Lesser-known types of diabetes

Research has uncovered many more types of diabetes than just types 1 and 2. In a 2013 study, the authors concluded that “the latest scientific findings no longer support such a rigid classification of diabetes…. Rather there appears to be a continuum of forms and a mixture of diabetes phenotypes.”

Other known forms of diabetes include:

  • Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) – Gestational diabetes affects pregnant women toward the middle or end of pregnancy, and usually goes away shortly after giving birth. But in some cases, diabetes doesn’t resolve after pregnancy, and it is then considered type 2 diabetes.
  • “Type 1.5” or LADA – Latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA, nicknamed “Type 1.5”) is a type of diabetes is usually diagnosed after age 30, in which people show signs of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, the CDC says. Some experts believe that LADA is a slowly developing kind of type 1 diabetes because patients have autoimmune antibodies in the pancreas. Many people with LADA are initially misdiagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Most people with LADA still produce their own insulin when first diagnosed but require insulin injections months or years later.
  • MODY, NDM and other monogenic forms of diabetes – Some rare forms of diabetes result from mutations in a single gene and are called monogenic. Monogenic forms of diabetes account for about 1 to 5 percent of all cases of diabetes in young people, according the National Institutes of Health. In most cases, the gene mutation is inherited; in the remaining cases the gene mutation develops spontaneously. Maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY) usually first occurs during adolescence or early adulthood, but it is often mistaken for type 1 diabetes or undiagnosed until later in life. Neonatal diabetes mellitus (NDM) is a monogenic form of diabetes that occurs in the first 6 months of life (earlier than type 1 diabetes occurs), and remains a lifelong condition for about half of those diagnosed.

Check out BeyondType1.org’s roundup of other rare kinds of diabetes.

Living with a rare or confusing kind of diabetes that doesn’t fit neatly into “type 1” or “type 2”? Connect with members of these smaller diabetes-related communities on PatientsLikeMe to learn from their experiences: LADAMODYdiabetes insipiduscystic fibrosis-related diabetesmedication-induced diabetes mellitussteroid-induced diabetes mellituspancreatogenous diabetes and prediabetes. If you have another kind of diabetes, please leave a comment.

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From tomatoes to turmeric: Can foods fight inflammation?

Posted October 26th, 2017 by

Inflammation is a hot topic. What’s it all about? And what’s the scoop on certain diets, foods and supplements, such as turmeric, when it comes to fighting inflammation?

What is inflammation?

Not all inflammation is “bad.” Acute inflammation is part of the body’s natural way of defending itself from foreign substances like viruses, bacteria, cuts and splinters. It may cause redness, swelling, heat and/or pain. The upside is, these symptoms are a sign that the body is responding after an injury or infection by triggering white blood cells and disease-fighting chemicals.

But some “other” kinds of inflammation — like chronic inflammation (which may include constant low-grade or systemic inflammation) and inflammation from autoimmune disorders (where the body attacks its own healthy cells as if they’re foreign) — doesn’t always show visible or obvious symptoms and can play a more long-term and complex role, according to Mayo Clinic.

Which diseases or conditions does it affect?

Mounting research shows that inflammation is a common underlying factor (and possibly a cause) in many — perhaps even all — diseases.

You’ve probably heard about the role of inflammation in arthritis or heart health. But researchers and doctors have also studied inflammation’s link to a wide range of other diseases and conditions, including cancerdiabetesAlzheimer’s diseasemultiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease (PD), major depressive disorder (MDD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and ALS (note: in the case of ALS and some other conditions, researchers are still determining whether some inflammation may be protective rather than harmful, so more research is needed).

Over the past decade, scientists have also started to identify certain genes associated with inflammation, and research on that front continues.

What can food do?

Some people follow an “anti-inflammatory diet,” but the science behind these particular diets does not clearly support the theory that they thwart inflammation, and doctors advise being wary of the health claims they make.

That said, taking steps to maintain a healthy weight and eat a variety of foods with anti-inflammatory properties (rather than follow a certain “Diet” with a capital “D”) may benefit your health.

“Many experimental studies have shown that components of foods or beverages may have anti-inflammatory effects,” says Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health.

The team at Harvard says these foods have anti-inflammatory properties:

  • Tomatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale and collards
  • Nuts like almonds and walnuts
  • Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines
  • Fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries and oranges

On the flip side, they say, some foods promote inflammation — so try to avoid or limit these (hint: they’re already foods with a pretty bad rap):

  • Refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and pastries
  • French fries and other fried foods
  • Soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages
  • Red meat (burgers, steaks) and processed meat (hot dogs, sausage)
  • Margarine, shortening and lard

Talk with your doctor or a registered dietician about a healthy eating plan with your health condition(s) in mind.

What’s the deal with turmeric?

There’s currently a lot of buzz around turmeric and some other supplements believed to help fight inflammation. Turmeric, a plant related to ginger, is a common spice known for its gold color and use in curry powder.

On top of being used as spice, it can be taken as a supplement. The main anti-inflammatory ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, which is available as a supplement on its own (the content of curcumin in turmeric spice is only around 3%, so curcumin supplements may pack more of an anti-inflammatory punch). One study found that curcumin may have the same anti-inflammatory effects as NSAID pain relievers, such as aspirin, ibuprofin, (Advil/Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve).

Preliminary studies have shown promise for curcumin’s use in people with ulcerative colitismultiple myelomalupus and depression. However, there’s still a lack of conclusive research on the effects of turmeric or curcumin in people with many other conditions, so these supplements typically aren’t recommended as part of a treatment plan at this point. Additional studies on curcumin are currently underway for people with some forms of cancer and neurodegenerative diseases, such as ALS, MS and PD.

Talk with your healthcare provider before starting any new vitamin, supplement or treatment.

What about other supplements?

Overall, the potential role of dietary supplements is “largely uncharted when it comes to carefully done clinical trials for safety and effectiveness,” according to Brent Bauer, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic. Dietary supplements are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for safety and effectiveness. Keeping that in mind, here are some other supplements with possible anti-inflammatory effects that researchers have studied to some extent, the Mayo Clinic says:

  • Cat’s claw (Uncaria tomentosa) — This could ease rheumatoid arthritis joint pain and osteoarthritis knee pain during activity, but more research is needed.
  • Devil’s claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) — It’s commonly used in Europe and may be effective in the short-term treatment of osteoarthritic pain.
  • Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) — Made from the mangosteen fruit, this supplement may have anti-allergy, antibacterial, antifungal, antihistamine and anti-inflammatory qualities, but more research in humans is needed.
  • Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) — This may help improve organ function in people with cirrhosis, a chronic liver disease. It may also be helpful in treating chronic hepatitis. But more research is needed before it can be recommended.

“My best advice concerning chronic inflammation is to stay tuned,” says Dr. Bauer. “This is a huge area of interest in the medical world and there are bound to be discoveries down the road that can improve well-being and the quality of health.”

On PatientsLikeMe

Hundreds of patients report using turmeric for a wide variety of health reasons — see what they have to say. Join the community for even more details on the treatments patients have tried and to learn and share about nutrition with your condition.

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