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Nick Jonas: Livin' the Dream Despite Diabetes
Date:8/25/2009

tal "trigger" -- such as an illness -- are likely to blame. Diet is not a factor in the development of type 1 diabetes.

What doctors do know is that the body's immune system mistakenly attacks the insulin-producing (beta) cells in the pancreas and destroys their ability to produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that allows blood sugar to be used by your body's cells for fuel. To survive, someone with type 1 diabetes must inject insulin when they eat foods containing carbohydrates so that the body can properly use the sugar in those foods as fuel. Type 1 diabetes is a lifelong illness with no known cure.

When he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2005, Jonas' blood sugar levels were above 700 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), a life-threatening level. In someone without diabetes, a normal blood sugar reading is below 140 mg/dL if you've been eating, or below 100 mg/dL after an overnight fast, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Signs of high blood sugar include:

  • Extreme thirst,
  • Hunger,
  • Frequent urination,
  • Irritability,
  • Blurry vision,
  • Stomach pain.

When blood sugar is around 300 or more, a serious condition called diabetic ketacidosis can develop, according to Dr. Neslihan Gungor, a pediatric endocrinologist at Scott & White Memorial Hospital in Temple, Texas. This condition can cause seizures, coma and even death.

Today, Jonas manages his diabetes by using an insulin pump, checking his blood sugar frequently -- up to a dozen times a day -- and watching his diet. Jonas mentioned that a common misconception people have is thinking there are foods he can't eat because he has diabetes.

With type 1 diabetes, he explained, "You can eat just about anything you want, but you need to do enough insulin and have smaller portions."

However, people with type 1 diabetes must also be careful that they
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