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Functional Medicine's Difference Between Type 1.5 and Type Two Diabetes

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Close to 26 million people have diabetes.   When diabetes develops outside of childhood, does not have a rapid onset, and insulin production continues, it has been assumed a person has Type 2 diabetes.

New research suggests that many individuals diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes are actually suffering from Type 1.5 diabetes. In fact, according to the American Diabetes Association, 10% diabetes patients have Type 1.5 diabetes, which is also known as Latent Autoimmune of Diabetes in Adults (LADA).

The typical presentation of someone with Type 2 diabetes is an older person who is overweight and displays other signs of the metabolic syndrome, such as raised blood pressure and an abnormal cholesterol profile. Usually their lifestyle – diet, exercise and smoking habits – will have contributed to the development of abnormal blood glucose levels through the buildup of insulin resistance. A family history of the disease and certain ethnic background also places you at greater risk.

On the other hand, individuals with Type 1.5 diabetes will usually be of slim build, in good health, and a younger adult.   As in Type 1 diabetes, there is an autoimmune basis to the Type 1.5 condition; testing for GAD65 antibodies, which target the pancreas, will confirm the diagnosis.

In both Type 1.5 and Type 2 diabetes, insulin generation will still occur at diagnosis, but in Type 1.5, insulin production stops within six years of diagnosis.   This necessitates the administration of insulin. Only some people with Type 2 diabetes will ever require insulin, and while oral medications prove effective in the majority of those cases, the same cannot be said with Type 1.5. This is because hypoglycemic medicines are only effective in the presence of insulin resistance, which is usually lacking in most people with LADA.

When Type 2 diabetes is present, lifestyle changes should always be the first treatment option to reduce insulin resistance. Functional medicine supports the integration of diet and exercise into therapy, as these efforts help address the cause of the disease and slow its progression. Holistic medicine can also help individuals suffering from LADA, as co-existing food allergies are not uncommon. Dietary changes can reduce inflammation and aid symptom relief.

The  Holistic  Wellness Center’s Kristien Boyle is experienced in treating both Type 1, Type 2, and Type 1.5 diabetes. To make an appointment, call (704) 308-2557.

Meet the Author

Dr. Boyle D.A.C.M., LAc., DiplOM.

Dr. Boyle D.A.C.M., LAc., DiplOM. is the founder of the Holistic Wellness Center of the Carolinas where he is the Director of Functional Medicine. He holds a Diplomate in Oriental Medicine and is acupuncture physician and primary care physician in the state of Florida. His post-graduate focus has been in the fields of functional neurology, functional immunology, and functional endocrinology.

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