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Kimberlee Adams
Jean Widdison
Foundations of Nutrition HLTH 1020
8 November 2016
Type 1 and 2 Diabetes
Looking into my familys nutritional history, its very clear that diabetes has been
prominent among the health of many of my relatives. According to my parents, this list includes
my grandfathers on both sides of the family, my great grandmother on my mothers side, and my
uncle on my mothers side. Diabetes is characterized by abnormally high levels of sugar in the
blood. The most common forms of diabetes are Type 1 diabetes, which is an autoimmune
disorder, and Type 2, which is associated with obesity and genetics. I will be reviewing a variety
of publications, articles, websites, and conducting family interviews to learn the early symptoms,
diagnosis, environmental and hereditary factors of Type 1 and 2, alternatives for managing and
preventing diabetes, and how the disease has directly impacted my family.
Symptoms of diabetes. The symptoms of diabetes include frequent urination, often feeling
overcome with thirst and hunger, extreme fatigue, blurry vision, cuts and bruises that are delayed
in healing, weight loss, and tingling or numbness in the hands and feet (American Diabetes
Association, Diabetes Symptoms). When asking my father what symptoms his dad noticed
before being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in his mid-fiftys, I was told that he was often
experiencing discomfort due to thirst, achy feet, and lack of circulation. My mothers dad, who
was diagnosed with Type 2 in his fiftys as well, was constantly complaining of increased thirst.
My mother recalls her dad often taking a large bottle of water to bed with him to stay hydrated
throughout the night.

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Diagnosis. There are several ways to diagnose diabetes, each way requiring an additional
follow-up test the day afterwards. These tests include the A1C, Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG),
Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT), and a random Plasma Glucose test (American Diabetes
Association, Diagnosing Diabetes and Learning about Prediabetes). The A1C test measures
your average blood glucose for the past two to three month, and a result greater or equal to 6.5%
prompts a diabetes diagnose. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and
Kidney Diseases, the A1C test can be used to diagnose Type 2 diabetes and prediabetes alone or
in combination with other diabetes tests.
Fasting Plasma Glucose tests specialize in checking the fasting blood glucose levels. For
reliability, this test is usually performed first thing in the morning, after having gone at least eight
hours without anything to eat or drink. It is a relatively simple and inexpensive test, and exposes
problems with insulin functioning in the body. Diabetes is diagnosed if the fasting blood glucose
is greater than or equal to 126 mg/dl. The Fasting Plasma Glucose test has been the most
common test used for diagnosing diabetes because it is more convenient than the Oral Glucose
Tolerance test and less expensive (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney
Diseases, Diagnosis of Diabetes and Prediabetes).
The Oral Glucose Tolerance Test measures blood glucose after a person fasts for at least
eight hours and then two hours after drinking a liquid containing 75 grams of glucose dissolved
in water. This test tells the doctor how the patients body processes glucose and is most
commonly associated with the testing of gestational diabetes among pregnant women. Diabetes
is diagnosed if the two-hour blood glucose level is greater than or equal to 200 mg/dl (American
Diabetes Association, Diagnosing Diabetes and Learning about Prediabetes).

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The last test that can be performed to diagnose diabetes is the random Plasma Glucose
test, which is a blood check that is able to be performed any time throughout the day while
experiencing severe diabetes symptoms. Just like the OGTT test, blood glucose of greater than or
equal to 200 mg/dl is an identifier of diabetes.
Causes of Type 1 diabetes. There are multiple causes that attribute to Type 1 and Type 2
diabetes. For Type 1, weather, viruses, and diet all play a leading role. In most cases, the risk of
diabetes is more profound if both of the parents possess it, however this doesnt necessarily mean
that the disease will be passed on to the child. Interestingly enough, cold weather is known to be
a trigger, as Type 1 diabetes develops more often in winter than summer and is more common in
places with cold climates (American Diabetes Association, Type 1 Diabetes). Viruses are also a
factor and are known to trigger the disease in some while it has no effect on others. The last
major influence for Type 1 diabetes is diet, specifically eating habits in the earlier stages of life.
The disease is less common in people who were breastfed and in those who first ate solid foods
at later ages (American Diabetes Association, Type 1 Diabetes).
Causes of Type 2 diabetes. The causes for Type 2 diabetes differ greatly from Type 1, as
there is a strong link to family history, lineage, and lifestyle choices. In determining the risk of
developing diabetes, environmental factors such as food intake and exercise play an important
role. The majority of individuals with type 2 diabetes are either overweight or obese. Inherited
factors are also important, but the genes involved remain poorly defined (The Genetic Landscape
of Diabetes pg.1). When having a history of Type 2 diabetes, it can be difficult to figure out
whether the disease is due to lifestyle factors or genetic susceptibility. However, the risk of both
can be severely decreased or prevented with excising and weight loss (American Diabetes
Association, Type 2 Diabetes).

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My great grandfather left his family when he was a little boy and my great grandmother
died in her early forties, so tests were never conducted to show if they had the disease and if
genetics played a role in my grandfather receiving it. However, according to my father, he did
struggle with maintaining a healthy weight and kept a poor diet, which are both key elements to
inheriting the disease. My grandfather on my mothers side lived a similar life style, as he was
overweight for most of his later years, had a poor diet, and dealt with heart problems. While
these all can contribute to diabetes, his mother also had the disease, which he most likely
inherited.
Managing diabetes. When looking into options for managing diabetes and staying
healthy, there are a variety of valuable resources and aids. This includes the dentist, diabetes
doctor, diabetes educator, dietitian, eye doctor, foot doctor, nurse practitioner, and friends and
family (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Managing
Diabetes). Its also a good idea to take classes and learn about the disease to promote a healthier
lifestyle. Keeping blood pressure and cholesterol in check are crucial as well, as that can help
prevent heart attacks, strokes, and damage to the kidneys or eyes.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, there
are a few different medicines to help keep blood glucose levels in check. For Type 1, insulin and
other types of diabetic medications that work with insulin are crucial, as the body is no longer
able to make the insulin itself. Type 2, the most common type of diabetes, can start when the
body doesn't use insulin as it should, a condition called insulin resistance. If the body is unable to
keep up with the need for insulin, diabetes medications will be required. Medications must be
prescribed by a doctor, who may prescribe more than one kind of diabetes pill.

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Discovery of insulin. In the publication The Genetic Landscape of Diabetes, Laura Dean,
MD and Jo McEntyre, PhD provide a brief synopsis of the breakthrough and discovery of
diabetes in 1889. They wrote, German physicians Joseph von Mering and Oskar Minkowski
surgically removed the pancreas from dogs. The dogs immediately developed diabetes. Now that
a link was established between the pancreas gland and diabetes, research focused on isolating the
pancreatic extract that could treat diabetes. (2). In July of 1921, Dr. Frederick Banting took up
the challenge of isolating a pancreatic extract, in hopes of creating a solution that would help
maintain blood sugar levels in the diabetic-like dogs, which we now know as insulin (2).
Laura Dean, MD and Jo McEntyre, PhD go on to say, Further experiments on dogs showed that
extracts from the pancreas caused a drop in blood sugar, caused glucose in the urine to disappear,
and produced a marked improvement in clinical condition. So long as the extract was being
given, the dogs were kept alive.
In the article Treating Diabetes with Medical Nutrition Therapy, Sharon
Denny, MS, RDN, reviews the benefits of coping with diabetes through
nutritional therapy. According to the article, research has shown that medical
nutrition therapy has its greatest impact when a person is first diagnosed
with the disease. Denny goes on to say, A variety of nutrition therapy
interventions can help with diabetes management, including carbohydrate
counting, simplified meal plans, healthy food choices, individualized meal
planning strategies, exchange lists and behavior strategies. Meeting with a
health professional or a registered dietary nutritionist is associated with
improved cholesterol levels, weight management success, decreased need

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for medications and a reduced risk for other diseases (Treating Diabetes with
Medical Nutrition Therapy, Denny).
Preventing diabetes. According to the article Take Action Now: Prevent
Diabetes, it states a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention shows that close to half of the adult population of the U.S. is
expected to develop diabetes during their lifetime. While this statistic is
high, there are many life style choices and changes that can collaborate in
preventing the disease. Its crucial to maintain a healthy diet, remain
physically active, remaining at a modest weight, and manage stress
effectively. Referring back to the article Take Action Now: Prevent Diabetes, it
reads research shows that modest weight loss and regular physical activity
can help prevent or delay Type 2 diabetes by up to 58 percent in people with
prediabetes. The first step to preventing diabetes is taking the appropriate
tests to diagnose prediabetes or Type 2, as early treatment can prevent
serious damage that diabetes can cause, including eyesight or kidney
damage.
While diabetes comes with many serious risks and life altercations, it is so wonderful to
see how far modern medicine has come and the resources provided that make the disease
manageable. Looking into my family history, I can clearly see that maintaining a poor diet and
being overweight are both common denominators that lead to the diagnosis of the disease. While
diabetes has not taken the life of any of my relatives, it has been a contributor to many other
health condition that lead to their deaths, including heart problems. It is so important to be

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knowledgeable and educated on the nutritional health of relatives, as its the best precursor for
potential risks that one may need to be aware of and actively try to avoid. Currently, it is
unknown if I will be diagnosed with diabetes down the road, but for now, I can do all that I can
to prevent it from happening. This includes proceeding with a lifestyle that will allow my body to
function at its healthiest and best.

Work Cited
Denny, Sharon MS, RDN. Treating Diabetes with Medical Nutrition Therapy,
August 2016
Eat right. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Accessed Nov 2016

Diabetes. American Diabetes Association, June 2016.


http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/symptoms/. Accessed 8 November 2016
Hurst, Kevin. Family Interview, interviewed 8 Nov 2016
Hurst, Nancy. Family Interview, interviewed 8 Nov 2016
Laura Dean, MD and Jo McEntyre, PhD. The Genetic Landscape of Diabetes, July 2004
NCBI Bookshelf, Accessed Nov 2016
The A1C Test and Diabetes. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/diagnosis-diabetesprediabetes/a1c-test. Accessed Nov 2016

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