7 Things That Trigger Diabetes and 10 Ways To Prevent It

Oct 8 2015 - 12:03pm
Diet helps prevent diabetes

Why diet, a healthy Immune System and hand washing may help prevent Diabetes. Here is what triggers diabetes and what you can do to prevent it.


Type 1 diabetes, once known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin, a hormone needed to allow sugar or glucose to enter cells to produce energy. The far more common type 2 diabetes occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin or doesn't make enough insulin.

Various factors may contribute to type 1 diabetes, including genetics and as we are learning, exposure to certain viruses. Although type 1 diabetes usually appears during childhood or adolescence, it also can begin in adulthood.

Diabetes is a devastating disease, especially when it affects children. Type 1 diabetes accounts for about 5-10% of total cases of diabetes worldwide [4] and is the leading cause of blindness. Other side effects include cardiovascular disease, stroke, kidney damage and amputations. Type 2 diabetes is completely preventable through diet and exercise, and, with new research we may find that some cases of type 1 diabetes may also be preventable.

A recent study in Taiwan has shown a correlation between Type 1 diabetes and viral illness, specifically enterovirus D68. [1]

After observing a rise in Type 1 diabetes following an endemic outbreak of enterovirus (EV), researchers in Taiwan conducted a nationwide study. The participants included over a million Taiwanese children - 570,130 children with a documented diagnosis of EV from 2000-2008 and 570,130 children who had not contracted the virus. Their goal was to assess whether the increase in diabetes could be related to the viral outbreak since genetics could not explain the increase given the short period of time in which the increase in diabetes was observed. [1]

Their findings were both shocking and significant. The group of children with EV, showed a 50% increase in risk of developing Type 1 juvenile onset diabetes over the control group.


The Taiwanese findings have been supported by other studies. A significant number of viruses have been associated with type 1 diabetes, including enteroviruses such as Coxsackievirus B (CVB) [5], but also rotavirus [8,9], mumps virus [10], and cytomegalovirus [11]. Rubella virus has been suggested to cause type 1 diabetes, but so far only congenital rubella syndrome has conclusively been associated with the disease [12-14]. The prime viral candidates for causing type 1 diabetes in humans are enteroviruses. Enterovirus infections are more frequent in siblings developing type 1 diabetes compared with nondiabetic siblings, and enterovirus antibodies are elevated in pregnant mothers whose children later develop type 1 diabetes [15]. Interestingly, studies in the Finnish population demonstrated that appearance of autoantibodies in genetically susceptible children paralleled the seasonal pattern of enterovirus infections [16].

Although the Taiwanese study is the first nationwide retrospective cohort study on the association between type 1 diabetes and EV infection there are two other diabetes studies, The worldwide DIAMOND Project [2] and the EURODIAB [3] multicenter prospective registration study in Europe showed an accelerating epidemic of type 1 diabetes across ethnicities and geographic areas.

These studies may lead scientists in a new direction of treatment for diabetes. Some have suggested vaccines to prevent viruses but, with over 100 strains of enterovirus that prospect seems daunting and a growing number of people, including doctors are questioning the efficacy of vaccines.

Epidemiological studies have identified environmental factors operating early in life that appear to trigger the immune-mediated response and may initiate pancreatic beta cell destruction.

Potential Triggers of Diabetes

  1. Cow’s milk – children who are given cow’s milk which contains foreign proteins as well as bovine insulin showed a higher propensity toward developing type 1 diabetes [17]
  2. Wheat/gluten – gluten has been demonstrated to initiate immune responses not only in celiac disease but in type 1 diabetes and a gluten-free diet has in some patients led to remission of type 1 diabetes [18,19]
  3. Vitamin D deficiency - vitamin D deficiency has been found to be a reversible cause of type 1 diabetes [20,21]
  4. Absent or limited breastfeeding - babies who are breastfed have a lower risk of developing diabetes due to better immune systems. [20,21]
  5. Medications – while most children do not require drugs it is noteworthy to mention that diuretics, anti-seizure drugs, psychiatric drugs, some drugs used to treat (HIV), Pentamidine used to treat a type of pneumonia and glucocorticoids can impair beta cells or disrupt insulin action. [22]
  6. Toxins – a mother’s exposure during pregnancy, or infants exposure to toxins my predispose the baby to increased risk of diabetes [22]
  7. Gestational diabetes – high blood sugar during pregnancy may cause type 2 diabetes the mother and for the child later in life and the child may be more prone to infections that could trigger type 1 diabetes. Women with gestational diabetes have a 50% chance of developing diabetes within 10 to 20 years of delivery. [23]

Diabetes Preventive Measures


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