We all know that diabetes is of two kinds – type 1 diabetes also called juvenile diabetes or IDDM (Insulin dependent diabetes mellitus), which occurs in childhood, and type 2 diabetes also called adult/ maturity onset or NIDDM (non-insulin dependent Diabetes mellitus), which as the name suggests happens in adults and is associated with poor lifestyle and obesity.
Now, a new type of diabetes, called LADA (Latent Auto-immune Diabetes in adults) or Type 1.5 diabetes has been recognised. It falls in between type-1 and type-2 diabetes. LADA, also called MODY (maturity onset diabetes of the young), 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.
LADA was first discovered in 1993 to describe slow onset childhood diabetes (type-1) in adults. Nearly 80 per cent people with LADA are initially misdiagnosed as having type-2 diabetes. People with LADA are usually non-obese, lean and even underweight, while some may be overweight or mildly obese. Often people with LADA, 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, arthritis, gluten-related disorders and celiac disease. They test positive for certain auto-antibodies that are not present in type-2 diabetes.
Treatment for LADA may involve diet, exercise and medication initially but eventually insulin therapy is needed. Although LADA 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 LADA 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.
Over the past few 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 auto-immune conditions. 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. Gluten-free diet have also been found to have a protective effect.