Causes of Diabetes

The cause of diabetes varies depending on the type of diabetes. However, in general, there is likely a genetic and or environmental component involved. 


In Type 1 diabetes , there is an autoimmune cause for the destruction of pancreatic beta cells. This is likely due to environmental factors in genetically predisposed individuals. In any case, it is still unclear why this happens, but a number of explanations and possible triggers of this autoimmune reaction have been proposed. These include: 

  • Viral infections – certain viruses like the mumps virus, coxsackie virus (coxsackie B), cytomegalovirus, and hepatitis viruses may infect the pancreas, leading to the destruction of the pancreatic beta-cells of Islets of Langerhans
  • Environmental factors – exposure to food-borne chemicals toxins and other environmental toxins
  • Dietary factors - Cow's milk, especially exposure as a very young infant, and diets high in nitrosamines
  • Emotional and physical stress – stressors of daily living from chaotic lifestyles to emotional trauma/experiences deeply affect the metabolism of the body, and hence, can lead to pancreatic insufficiency


Rare Causes:

  • Autoimmune polyendocrine syndrome type I (APS-I)
  • X-linked polyendocrinopathy, immune dysfunction, and diarrhea (scurfy gene)


Type 2 diabetes is due to both insulin resistance and beta-cell dysfunction. A mixture of genetic and environmental factors may lead to the onset of type 2 diabetes. Such factors include:

  • Family history 
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Poor dietary choices – excess consumption of carbohydrates (especially refined carbohydrates), fats and proteins, which can lead to obesity 
  • Obesity
  • Age
  • Smoking
  • Intrauterine factors
  • History of gestational diabetes

Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes

Typical signs and symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Unusual thirst
  • Weight change (gain or loss)
  • Extreme fatigue or lack of energy
  • Slow healing sores or frequent infections
  • Tingling or numbness of the hands and feet
  • Trouble getting or maintaining an erection
  • Red, swollen, tender gums

Pregnancy and Diabetes

Pregnancy does not have to be a challenging time for diabetics, whether type 1, type 2 or gestational. Diabetes can be managed safely and effectively during pregnancy. Blood sugar management during pregnancy will be somewhat different from your usual pre-pregnancy management approach, as now, you have to think about your fetus as well. Your blood sugar levels will have to be tighter controlled, but this can be easily achieved through dietary and lifestyle changes, tighter self-monitoring of blood glucose, and proper medication use (if required, especially for type 1 diabetics). Naturopathic medicine also offers many safe treatments to support you throughout your pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum period.

Youth and Diabetes

Based on a U.S. study, a North American child born in 2000 stands a one in three chance of being diagnosed with diabetes in his or her lifetime.