Type 1 diabetes and dairy: dairy consumption and insulin | Viva!

Type 1 diabetes and dairy: dairy consumption and insulin

With type 1 diabetes, our body’s immune system ‘soldiers’ (T-cells), attack our own pancreatic cells that make insulin. Tragically, this is an incurable and serious disease and most often strikes children aged 10 to 14 years, although there is now a steep rise in under-fives, also. There's a direct link between dairy consumption and insulin production. Early exposure to cows’ milk proteins – especially in individuals who are genetically susceptible to the disease – has been strongly linked to type 1 diabetes. (Kimpimaki et al, 2001; Thorsdottir et al, 2003.) Potential culprits include cows’ milk proteins: casein, bovine serum albumin and bovine insulin (Butler, 2014). It is believed that when these children are fed cows’ milk, perhaps in an infant formula, it is only partially digested and fragments cross from the child’s intestines into her blood. The immune system responds to these foreign invaders and annihilates them. However – and this is the problem – some of the cows’ milk fragments look exactly the same as the cells in the child’s pancreas that make insulin. The ‘soldier’ T-cells set about destroying both the cows’ milk proteins and the pancreatic cells, wreaking havoc. The child loses her ability to make insulin for the rest of her life. When you understand the very real relation between dairy consumption and insulin production, you can protect your children and possibly even prevent the development of type 1 diabetes.