Re-Thinking The Cause Of Type 1 Diabetes

| March 27, 2017

The conventional view of type 1 diabetes is that it develops when the immune system mistakenly attacks the beta cells in the pancreas, which produce insulin. Various theories have been put forward on the cause of this immune system malfunction, which appears to involve both genetic and environmental components.

But what if the fault doesn’t lie with the immune system, but with the beta cells themselves? That is the intriguing finding of a new study that challenges traditional thinking about type 1 diabetes. Researchers have shown how stressed beta cells could trigger a completely normal immune system function that is normally used to destroy cancerous or infected body cells.1

Sick cells often ‘misread’ DNA sequences in their genes, so that instead of making functional proteins, they make useless ones instead. These so-called ‘nonsense’ proteins tell the immune system that the cell is potentially dangerous, setting off a search-and-destroy reaction. And it now turns out that the same type of protein error happens in the beta cells of people with type 1 diabetes.

While this is a ground-breaking study in scientific circles, it doesn’t really change much for people who have, or are at risk of, type 1 diabetes. It simply changes the question researchers need to ask themselves, from “What makes the immune system go wrong?” to “What makes the beta cells go wrong?” Let’s hope they come up with the answer soon.

In the meantime, to give your child the best chance of avoiding type 1 diabetes, I still recommend following the advice I gave recently here. And, if you have type 1 diabetes yourself, the steps that I outline here could help you to cut down safely on the amount of insulin medication you need, and could even help to coax your beta cells to start producing insulin again.

Several studies have shown that the balance of gut bacteria is a crucial factor in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Now, the red grape compound resveratrol has been found to cause some gut bacteria to produce antidiabetic compounds – in mice, at least. More on this in my next blog post.

Wishing you the best of health,

Martin Hum
PhD DHD Nutritionist
for Real Diabetes Truth

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Bear in mind we are not addressing anyone’s personal situation and you should rely on this for informational purposes only. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.


1. Kracht MJ, van Lummel M, Nikolic T et al. Autoimmunity against a defective ribosomal insulin gene product in type 1 diabetes. Nat Med. 2017 Feb 27 (Online ahead of print).

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Category: Type 1 Diabetes

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