Diabetes is typically seen as either type-1 diabetes (juvenile diabetes or insulin dependent diabetes mellitus) that happens in childhood and type-2 diabetes (adult/ maturity onset or non insulin dependent diabetes mellitus), which as the name suggests happens in adulthood and is associated with poor lifestyle and obesity.
A new type of diabetes, i.e. latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA) has been recognized. Type-1.5 diabetes falls in between type-1 and type-2 diabetes. LADA may also be referred as type-1.5 diabetes is a form of childhood diabetes that occurs in adults over 30 years of age. In this type of diabetes, the body destroys its own insulin producing beta cells of the pancreas.
Type-1.5 diabetes was first described in 1993, to explain slow onset type-1 diabetes (juvenile diabetes) in adults. Nearly 80% of people with type-1.5 diabetes are initially misdiagnosed as having type-2 diabetes. People with type -1.5 diabetes are usually non-obese, lean and even underweight while some may be overweight or mildly obese. Often people with type-1.5 diabetes may or may not have family history of type-2 diabetes, but, may have a family history of other auto-immune conditions such as thyroid disease, or arthritis or gluten related disorders and celiac disease. They test positive for certain auto-antibodies that are not present in type-2 diabetes.
Treatment for type-1.5 diabetes may involve diet, exercise and medication initially but eventually insulin therapy is needed. Although type-1.5 diabetes seems to initially respond to lifestyle and medication as in type-2 diabetes, it will not halt or slow the progression of beta cell destruction and people will eventually become insulin dependent.
Dietary recommendations to manage type-1.5 diabetes include slowing progression of the disease, management of body weight and maintaining optimum blood sugar levels. A high fibre, low glycemic index diet with anti-inflammatory foods and nutrients has been found to be useful in controlling type-1.5 diabetes.
Over the past years, evidence has supported a protective role of certain nutrients including vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin C, selenium, magnesium, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, prebiotics, probiotics, glutamine (an amino acid), and flavanols (plant chemicals which protect against diseases) in autoimmune conditions. Recent studies also indicate that vitamin A is a potent immuno-regulator and can be instrumental in auto-immunity and prevention of inflammation. Several animal and human studies have shown that diets high
in omega-3 fatty acids, the kind of fat found in fish and flaxseeds, have a role in managing auto-immune diseases. A gluten-free diet has also been found to have a protective effect from type-1.5 diabetes. Healthy fats such as cold pressed oils including extra-virgin coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, sesame and organic mustard oil, soy and soy products, spices like turmeric and ginger have also been shown to be beneficial.