What is Type 1 Diabetes?
Updated: Sep 20, 2019
Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune condition in which the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. It tends to occur in childhood or early adult life, and will require daily insulin therapy. T1D comes with a variety of illnesses, and can be deadly even when treated with insulin replacements. Genetics play a huge role in the development of diabetes, however lifestyle is also an important factor in whether someone will get T1D or not. (1/2)
But what causes diabetes, and how can you change your lifestyle to best safeguard yourself against diabetes?
Several studies have shown that babies who are breastfed have a significantly lower rate of developing T1D than babies who were given cow’s milk. (3/4/5) The risk of getting diabetes is more than 50% higher in children who drink dairy milk, than in children who avoid it. (6) The increased risk is related to the protein bovine serum albumin (BSA) in the milk. Anti-BSA antibodies were specifically found in children with T1D, but the control group only showed very low levels to no levels of these antibodies. (7) Infants who had been fed cow’s milk had a significantly higher response to bovine insulin than did infants who received mother's milk. (8) The reaction to bovine insulin causes an immune reaction to insulin, which makes the body destroy its beta-cells.
When milk and its component BSA enters the body, the immune system recognises the shape of this protein as an intruder and builds antibodies to the segment of it. The body produces antibodies to 17 amino acids of albumin peptide to fight BSA. The problem is that an almost identical sequence of these 17 amino acids is found on beta-cells of the pancreas. When the body makes these antibodies, it is searching the whole body for the right sequence, and finds it not only on BSA but also on the surface of the beta-cells. It destroys them, and the body cannot produce insulin anymore. The result of this process is Type 1 Diabetes.
There is a higher risk for Type 1 Diabetes in children who were exposed to dairy milk in the first year of life because BSA can easily leak through the gut wall from babies and alert the body's immune system. The best way to minimise the risk of T1D in children and young adults is to avoid cow's milk and feed breast milk to babies and plant milk to toddlers and children instead.
Sonja from SOS Free