Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder, meaning that the body’s immune system attacks its own pancreas affecting its ability to produce insulin; this usually happens at a young age. In this case scenario, insulin has to come into your body from outside a good example of which is an insulin pump. FYI not all autoimmune disorders happen at a young age.
Type 2 diabetes is a different ball game. Contrary to the popular belief, increased sugar consumption doesn’t cause type 2 diabetes.
Just because type 2 diabetes is linked to high levels of blood sugar, it may seem logical to assume that eating too much sugar is the cause of diabetes. However, it’s not that simple. High-sugar diet can increase the risk of developing diabetes but doesn’t directly cause it. There is no proven link between the two. By analogy, driving on the road can increase your risk for an accident but a mere fact of driving doesn’t cause it.
What happens with type 2 is that people develop insulin resistance. Here’s how it works. When you consume sugar, it attaches to hemoglobin that delivers it to your body cells to be used for energy. Think about insulin as a key to open the door (of a cell) to let glucose in. In case of insulin resistance the door won’t open and glucose can’t get in. As a result, glucose builds up in the bloodstream instead of being absorbed by the cells.
It is believed that excess weight and physical inactivity largely contribute to the insulin resistance. Genetics play a role, as well.
A1C is a widely used test to diagnose type 2 diabetes. It is also called HbA1C or glycated hemoglobin test. Hemoglobin is a substance found in the red blood cells which carry oxygen throughout your body. When blood sugar level is elevated, sugar combines with hemoglobin making it “glycated” in which case scenario A1C test shows an elevated number. This test is being used to show how well your diabetes is being controlled. Since red blood cells live up to 3 months, this test should be at this interval. This very test was used to diagnose my type 2 diabetes.
For people without diabetes, the normal range for the A1C test is between 4% and 5.6%. A1C levels between 5.7% and 6.4% indicate increased risk of diabetes and levels of 6.5% or higher indicate diabetes. The goal for people with diabetes is a A1C level less than 7%. The higher the A1C number is, the higher the risks of developing diabetes-related complications.