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How Does Diabetes Affect the Immune System?

How Does Diabetes Affect the Immune System?

Diabetes mellitus is a chronic metabolic disorder associated with elevated blood glucose (blood sugar). Despite the serious health risks that diabetes can pose, it affects an alarming number of people in the United States (more than 34 million).

However, having this medical issue doesn’t only affect your heart, kidneys, and brain, but it also has long-term and damaging effects on your immune system. Long-term uncontrolled diabetes weakens your immune system and increases your vulnerability to illnesses and infections.

But what is the reason for this? How does diabetes affect the immune system?

  • Diabetes impairs white blood cells’ ability to reach the site of infection.
  • Chronic hyperglycemia slows blood perfusion via blood vessels.
  • High glucose levels inhibit and suppress neutrophil synthesis.
  • Diabetes causes a reduced complement response
  • Bacteria thrive and grow in an environment of high blood sugar.

Here are the five primary ways diabetes can affect the immune system. You can prevent these issues from worsening by controlling and managing your blood sugar levels and keeping them within limits. Therefore, taking your medicines on time, eating a healthy diet, avoiding junk food, exercising, and staying hydrated can lower the threat presented by the above. 

Why does diabetes affect the immune system?

telehealth nurse wearing headset and working at computer

When you have diabetes, the immune system starts attacking and destroying the beta cells located in the pancreas. Ultimately, this leads to a lack of hormone insulation, which means that the sugar glucose level in the blood can’t be controlled. 

Though diabetes is still a considerable health risk to people worldwide, there’s a lack of understanding about it. Researchers and scientists are still trying to discover why immune cells attack insulin-producing cells

Without an in-depth or comprehensive understanding of this, it’s challenging to determine why diabetes affects your immune system. However, with more clinical research studies around this topic happening worldwide, we can soon develop a better understanding of this and reduce its severity. 

How to boost your immune system even if you have diabetes

Your immune system is an incredible bodily function that ensures that you’re healthy and fighting off diseases. When it becomes weaker because of diabetes, you need to take extra measures to ensure it’s boosted. Doing this will help you reduce the number of times you’re sick, improving your lifestyle immensely. 

One of the most prominent ways to increase the stress on your immune system is by lowering stress. High levels of stress can cause your immune system to become weaker and make those with stress frequently ill. 

There are several ways you can approach this. Having a good diet, active life, and meditation classes can help. Other methods for strengthening the immune system include:

  • Stop smoking
  • Avoid drinking too much alcohol
  • Enhance your sleeping patterns
  • Have a well-balanced diet rich in whole foods
  • Obtain adequate vitamin D

Protect your immune system

Now that you understand how diabetes affects the immune system, it’s time to get protected. Guarantee you’re living a healthy, active life that includes a well-rounded diet. These small actions can help reduce the severity of the illness and lower the problems that can occur. 

Diabetes: It’s not all bad!

Diabetes: It's not all bad!

At first, having diabetes can seem like it only has downsides. However, you’ll be surprised by the benefits of having diabetes. These unexpected “perks” of being diabetic are pretty rewarding – whether it’s discounted event tickets or being able to bring food wherever you wish. 

Everyone with diabetes can benefit from these so-call perks, with some using more than others. To see our top 4 benefits of having diabetes, see the below post: 

1. Free entry to national parks

In the US, 423 national parks span 84 million acres. As a person with diabetes, you’re legible for free lifetime admittance in each park. The reason is that you’re identified with a “disability.” 

For diabetics, this perk is excellent. We all know how difficult it is to exercise or experience nature without worrying about your blood glucose levels. Therefore, having the extra benefits of it being free will hopefully ease the mind of some diabetics and encourage them to get out into nature. 

2. You can bring food anywhere

two people sharing a slice of watermelon

Nutrition is an important part of reducing the severity of diabetes. Because of this, you can literally bring food anywhere. Usually, it would be restricted to movie theatres, concerts, classrooms, meetings, and retail stores, but for diabetics, it’s okay.

This doesn’t only allow you to snack whenever you want, but it also helps save money. Instead of visiting a theme park and spending $20 on a small hotdog, you can bring your own affordable snacks to enjoy. 

3. Disability Access Service (DAS) at Disneyland

Disney castle

Disneyland is a magical and wonderful place where dreams come true. However, have you ever felt like the theme park is too busy? Luckily, diabetics can apply for a Disability Access Service (DAS) program to access free, fast tracking on all rides. 

Because of this generous gift from Disney Parks, you don’t need to tolerate long waits in conventional queues. Instead, you’ll wait for shorter periods, have extra time to visit rides around the park, and, most notably, have more fun. 

4. Opportunities for clinical research trials

scientist looking through microscope

There are many “perks” of having type 1 or 2 diabetes. However, one that only gets mentioned a little is the opportunities for enrolling in clinical research trials. 

For those unfamiliar, clinical trials are human research studies that try to evaluate a medicinal, surgical, or behavioral intervention. They’re the primary method by which researchers determine if a new treatment, such as a new medicine, diet, or medical equipment (such as a pacemaker), is safe and effective on humans.

Because of your efforts in supporting clinical research trials, you’ll also get paid. At My Prosciento Study, we pay everyone, from referrals to actual clinical participants. 

Can you live a good life with diabetes?

Though discovering that you have diabetes can seem unmotivating, discouraging, or upsetting, there are perks to having this medical issue. In most places worldwide, it’s recognized as a disability, granting you access to some disability-based perks (such as DAS at Disney). 

Therefore, when people ask, “can you live a good life with diabetes?” we say, “yes.” Although it can cause some health complications, you also get treated to additional perks daily, from free entry to national parks to even earning more money from clinical trials. 

Can You Reverse Type 2 Diabetes With Weight Loss?

Losing weight is helpful in many ways. It reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, improves our mental health, and leads to better posture. 

But can type 2 diabetes be reversed through weight loss? Let’s talk about it.

What is Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition characterized by an inability to control blood sugar levels.  

Under normal circumstances, eating causes the body to release insulin and transport glucose to various body cells. Insulin primarily controls blood sugar but also impacts fatty and amino acids.  

In people with diabetes, the pancreas doesn’t release enough insulin, or the body cannot use the hormone effectively. As a result, blood sugar levels remain elevated, leading to various health complications. 

People with type 2 diabetes may begin with lifestyle interventions to control their blood sugar levels: following a special meal plan, exercising, losing weight, and taking antidiabetic medications.  

If these approaches don’t result in healthy blood glucose, insulin injections might be necessary to compensate for the lower insulin production. 

Can Type 2 Diabetes be Reversed With Weight Loss?

scale with health-related items on top (water bottle, tape measurer, weight, and fruit)

To answer the question, we must first understand what actual reversal means. Contrary to what some people believe, reversing type 2 diabetes doesn’t mean curing the disease and enjoying permanent benefits without doing any work. 

Reversal means going into remission, where you maintain healthy blood sugar levels without taking medication. Doing so is entirely possible but requires consistent effort and careful monitoring of overall health and symptoms. 

According to data, weight loss appears to be the most effective way to reverse type 2 diabetes. People who lose weight soon after their diagnosis are more likely to go into remission, but even those who have had the condition for decades have a chance. 

Even if a person doesn’t go into remission, weight loss can help them: 

        • Manage the condition with fewer medications 
        • Maintain healthier blood sugar levels 
        • Be at a lower risk of health complications 

Practical Weight Loss Tips to Apply Right Away

1. Go On a Structured Exercise Program

Regular exercise is mandatory for effective weight loss: 

      • It helps you burn calories to promote fat loss 
      • It allows you to maintain more lean tissue during weight loss 
      • It can have favorable effects on appetite, allowing you to gauge fullness and hunger 

Plus, exercise can directly reduce blood glucose, increasing the chance of reversing type 2 diabetes. 

2. Start Using a Food Journal

Having a food journal is an excellent way to keep yourself in check and know exactly how much food you eat daily. 

A journal lays it out and makes it easier to see what nutritional changes you can make to start losing weight and reverse diabetes. 

3. Get At Least Seven Hours of Sleep Per Night

Sleep might not seem that important, but it is, and for two reasons: 

First, good sleep promotes weight loss. It helps your body burn fat more effectively, contributes to your well-being, and regulates your appetite. 

Second, some data suggests that adequate sleep is necessary for optimal fat and carbohydrate metabolism. Sleep deprivation can make your body more likely to use muscle tissue for energy, leaving more fat on your body and glucose in your blood. 

Risk of Developing Type 1 Diabetes

Risk of Developing Type 1 Diabetes

The CDC predicts that 37.3 million Americans have diabetes, making it one of the most common chronic diseases in the United States. Out of these people, 1.45 million have type 1 diabetes. 

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic autoimmune disease where your pancreas can’t produce insulin. As a result, those with the illness must perform daily management for blood sugar monitoring and insulin injection. 

Because it’s a disease many people in the States have, it’s essential to know the risk of developing type 1 diabetes. Understanding this can help prevent its more severe effects and damage. 

Risk factors for type 1 diabetes

a gloved hand extending a glucose monitor to an outreached finger

Type 1 diabetes (also known as insulin-dependent diabetes) is a genetically-driven disease. Therefore, the three primary risk factors of this illness include: 

  • Age – Type 1 diabetes can occur at any age. However, it generally develops in younger adults and children. 
  • Genetics – Certain genes might increase the likelihood of developing type 1 diabetes (known as HLA-DQA1, HLA-DQB1, and HLA-DRB1). A doctor can test for these genes.
  • Family history – Having close family members with type 1 diabetes raises the chance of getting the disease. The risk increases if both parents have type 1 diabetes.

As seen, the risk of developing type 1 diabetes is limited. Unlike type 2 diabetes, type 1 isn’t developed from lifestyle choices. Anybody is susceptible to type 1, regardless of their healthy, active lifestyle. 

What causes type 1 diabetes

Insulin-dependent diabetes occurs when your immune system mistakenly targets and eliminates insulin-producing cells in your pancreas. This destruction can unfold over months or years, eventually leading to insulin deficiency.

Although scientists are unsure of the origin of Type 1 diabetes, they believe it has a significant genetic component. A study produced by Pediatr Diabetes suggests that the general risk of this disease is 0.4%. However, children with type 1 diabetes have an average lifetime risk of 6-7%.

But we must note that it’s well-documented that scientists have mentioned that environmental chemicals (Air pollution, tobacco smoke, etc.) might trigger or accelerate the development of type 1 diabetes.

Is type 1 diabetes preventable?

Though scientists are working on ways to slow down or prevent the progression of insulin-dependent diabetes, it’s still undiscovered. Therefore, you can do little to avoid Type 1 diabetes. 

However, there are methods to reduce the severity of the illness:

  • Monitoring and managing your blood sugar levels effectively 
  • Following your doctor’s advice on how to live a healthy lifestyle
  • Getting regular health check-ups that showcase your overall wellness and seeking improvement 

These are the only ways to decrease the damage of type 1 diabetes. But remember, it will never prevent it. 

Additionally, if you’re diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, you must get educated on self-management. Knowing about the disease can undoubtedly reduce the risks involved.

Conclusion

After reading the above, you should understand the risk of developing type 1 diabetes. As you now know, this disease is genetically driven. Therefore, it’s more likely to affect those that already have the illness in the family. 

If you’d like to learn more about becoming a pioneer in diabetes research you can check out our current studies at the link below.

Diabetes: What happens if left untreated?

The Progression of Diabetes

Diabetes is a progressive disease and making some simple choices can drastically change your outcome if addressed early. Ignoring type 2 diabetes is life-threatening!  Talk to your doctor and manage your type 2 diabetes to live a long and healthy life!

Unmanaged type 2 diabetes leads to: 

    • Fat build-up in your liver also known as fatty liver disease 
    • Eye diseases like cataracts and glaucoma, retinopathy, possibly blindness 
    • Nerve damage and skin infections that may require limb amputation 
    • Heart damage doubling the risk of heart attack and stroke 
    • Kidney damage requiring regular dialysis and possibly a transplant  
    • Irreversible erectile dysfunction 
    • Dental problems such as gum disease and mouth ulcers 
    • Increased odds of getting Alzheimer’s disease 

 

Let’s Break Down The Information…

Untreated diabetes

How common is diabetes?

Diabetes is a progressive disease and making some simple choices can drastically change your outcome if addressed early. Ignoring type 2 diabetes is life threatening! 

Eating healthy while keeping track of your BMI and A1C can help reduce your risk of complications related to diabetes!

Clinical trial researchers partner with study participants to help advance science in the treatment of diseases.

Before enrolling in a study, we encourage you to talk to your family and consult with your doctor about any questions you may have. When you’re ready, one of our highly trained team members will guide you through the process every step of the way. We have English and Spanish-speaking team members ready to help you and answer any questions or concerns you may have.