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You’ve heard about the benefits of fasting, haven’t you?
- Significant weight loss
- More energy
- Better mental clarity
Of course you want these benefits for yourself!
But as you look into fasting, you come across information that worries you. You’re a type 1 diabetic and there are a lot of warnings that fasting will be harmful for you.
I don’t blame you for being concerned. However, fasting is perfectly safe for you - provided you take a few precautions. We’ll take a look at what I mean. But first, a little bit about type 1 diabetes.
What Is Type 1 Diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition that occurs when the body’s immune system attacks its own beta cells in the pancreas. This in turn causes the pancreas to produce insufficient insulin for your body to function properly. People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin, usually by injection.
Although there are many theories about what causes the body’s immune system to attack its own cells, research hasn’t shown anything definitive.
You need insulin because it allows your cells to use glucose for energy. It also makes sure your blood sugar levels don’t get too high or too low. As you can see, people with type 1 diabetes can’t properly distribute glucose to cells in the body or safely regulate their blood sugar without taking insulin.
If you’ve already been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, you may have first realized something was wrong when you experienced the common symptoms of unexplained include weight loss, extreme thirst, frequent urination, and dehydration.
Other symptoms may include bedwetting, blurry vision, a rapid heartbeat, fatigue, vomiting, and nausea.
Type 1 diabetes is less common than Type 2 diabetes. The main difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes is that type 2 is not an autoimmune condition. As well, In many cases, type 2 diabetes can be reversed.
Type 2, like type 1, is a chronic disease that affects the body’s ability to use glucose. Type 2 diabetes results from a pre-diabetic condition called insulin resistance that’s characterized by difficulty using insulin correctly. Essentially, your cells have become numb to insulin and no longer let it in to deliver glucose for energy. Your body thinks there’s not enough insulin being produced, and so your pancreas responds by making even more of it then sending it out into your body.
Both forms of diabetes are equally dangerous, potentially leading to heart disease, kidney disease, blindness, and changes in mood/affect - among other problems.
Now that you understand the critical role of insulin in your body, let’s dive in to how you can safely fast if you’re a type 1 diabetic.
What You Must Do If You Fast As A Diabetic
Even when you’re a type 1 diabetic your pancreas still produces some insulin in response to a meal. When you fast; that is, you deliberately stop eating for a period of time, and you fast consistently, you can gain insulin sensitivity, meaning that your body uses what you do produce more effectively.
So, if you continue to take the same amount of insulin as when you weren’t fasting, you risk having too much insulin in your system, which drives down your blood sugar and leaves it too low. This is called hypoglycemia.
Hypoglycemia can be dangerous. Early symptoms include weakness, lightheadedness, and dizziness. You may get a headache, or feel nervous, anxious, and irritable.You can experience a lack of coordination, chills, clammy skin, and sweating, or feel confused. Routine tasks are difficult for you.
Untreated, severe low blood sugar can result in seizures, loss of consciousness, or death.
The solution to having too much insulin and too low blood sugar? Reduce the amount of insulin you’re taking. Make sure you partner with your physician to calculate the adjusted amount that will be right for you to maintain normal insulin levels when you’ve adopted fasting in your lifestyle.
Your goal is to take the least amount of insulin possible. Not only is it better for your body to use the insulin it naturally produces, but in the US there are 3 companies that produce about 99% of insulin on the market. Most of it is genetically modified, known as GMO. Because emerging research shows potential harm to human health from GMO products, you want to put as little of it in your body as possible.
As well, I recommend taking some time to find an alternative source of insulin that’s not genetically modified, and see if the non-GMO insulin regulates your blood sugar better.
You can see that fasting is smart for both type 1 and type 2 diabetics, because you’ll decrease your need for insulin.
As a side note, if you fast as part of your religious observance, such as at Ramadan when adherents abstain from eating or drinking from sunrise to sundown for a month, and you’re diabetic, fasting is perfectly safe as long as you adjust your insulin.
Debunking A Common Myth About Fasting, Diabetes, and Keto
As you research fasting, you may find warnings about ketoacidosis, which is a rare complication that type 1 diabetics may be at risk for. It’s when the pH of your body becomes too acidic, threatening your health because of an extraordinarily high level of what are called ketones in your body. But if you monitor your blood sugar and insulin, and adjust your insulin as necessary, you’ll be fine.
In fact, when you combine intermittent fasting with the Healthy KetoTM diet, in which you’d eat a large amount of vegetables that are alkaline and which counter the acidity, you further lower your already low risk of ketoacidosis.
Sometimes, people confuse the state of ketosis that happens on a keto diet with ketoacidosis. But if you’re not a type 1 diabetic, you’ll never experience ketoacidosis on a keto diet - although even seasoned medical professionals confuse the terms ketosis and ketoacidosis. It’s impossible for it to happen to you. Ketoacidosis only occurs with type 1 diabetes, and is not as common as people think it is.
A Promising Treatment On The Horizon
I want to mention a very promising treatment for type 1 diabetics called stem cell therapy.
I think stem cell therapy is going to be huge in the future. Essentially, stem cells help to regrow certain other body cells. Emerging research shows that the type of pancreatic cells called beta cells, which produce insulin, can be regrown. This means the pancreas would once again be able to produce sufficient insulin.
In the meantime, I’ve shown you what to do as a person with type 1 diabetes.
Intermittent Fasting Can Support Your Health As A Diabetic
There’s no reason for you as a type 1 diabetic to forgo the benefits of intermittent fasting. Losing weight, feeling more energetic, and being mentally razor sharp are all achievable.
Take the precaution of working with your doctor to make sure you adjust your intake of insulin as your need for it drops. Monitor your insulin and blood sugar levels faithfully. Follow the fasting schedule you’ve committed to and combine intermittent fasting with keto..
It’s that simple.
What are you waiting for?
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