By Dr. Mercola
Late last year, research1,2,3 showed life expectancy has declined in the U.S. for the first time in two decades, leaving researchers searching for clues as to the cause.
While drug overdoses appear to have contributed to the decline, obesity also plays a major role. Now, a follow-up study4 suggests type 2 diabetes is a major factor. As reported by Vox:5
"[R]esearchers have long known that diabetes is an underreported cause of death on death certificates, the primary data source for determining life expectancy trends.
That's because people with diabetes often have multiple health conditions, or "comorbidities," such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity and even cancer …
[According to] Andrew Stokes, assistant professor of global health at Boston University's School of Public Health … '[T]o some extent, deaths that should be attributed to diabetes go to other causes.'"
Indeed, the links between diabetes and other lethal conditions such as heart disease and cancer are exceedingly compelling.
The good news is that once you understand how insulin and leptin resistance fuels ALL of these conditions, the remedy becomes clear. Best of all, preventing and treating the underlying cause of diabetes is fairly simple and straightforward, and does not cost much. To learn how, read on to the end.
Diabetes Is Likely the Third Leading Cause of Death
To evaluate the potential influence of diabetes on death rates, the researchers calculated the risk of death among diabetics during five years of follow up.
Shockingly, while death certificates suggest diabetes is involved in about 3.5 percent of deaths, the real number is likely around 12 percent, and among the obese, it may be as high as 19 percent. As noted by Vox:
"That means that while diabetes is generally listed as the seventh most common cause of death in America … their results suggest it's probably the third leading cause of death after cancer and heart disease."
This is a tragedy when you consider that type 2 diabetes is entirely preventable and treatable with a low-net-carb diet and other healthy lifestyle changes,6 such as avoiding sitting and getting healthy sun exposure. Most of these strategies are inexpensive or free.
Meanwhile, the cost of conventional diabetes treatment keeps going up. In fact, diabetes is now one of the most expensive diseases in the U.S.7 Of 155 chronic conditions, diabetes topped the list at $101.4 billion in personal health care spending in 2013.8
In the last 20 years, the cost of insulin has shot up by 450 percent. A single months' supply of insulin can now cost nearly $255, compared to less than $21 in 1996. The sad reality is that insulin has no place in the treatment of type 2 diabetes and actually accelerates death as my now 11-year-old article shows.
To that, you have to add the cost for other medications, syringes, pumps and blood sugar sensors and monitors, plus health care costs associated with comorbidities. It's not surprising then that diabetics spend an average of 230 percent more on medical expenditures than non-diabetics.
Half of Americans Are Pre-Diabetic or Diabetic
According to data published in 2015, about half of all American adults are either pre-diabetic or diabetic.9,10,11,12,13,14,15 Another analysis of health trends around the world from 1990 to 2013 also revealed a striking rise in diabetes.16
The data, which spanned 188 countries, showed a 45 percent increase in diabetes prevalence between 1990 and 2013, with some countries faring worse than others. In the U.S., diabetes rates rose by a whopping 71 percent.
At least 20 percent of the population in every U.S. state is also obese17 — a condition that severely predisposes you to diabetes. That said, being skinny is not a blanket assurance of healthy insulin sensitivity. Research suggests one-third of normal-weight adults may also be pre-diabetic without knowing it.18
Besides the obvious day-to-day inconveniences and risks of diabetes, it's also linked to a wide array of complications, including heart disease, below the knee amputations, kidney damage, blindness and hearing impairments.
Again, fundamentally these complications are due to underlying insulin and leptin resistance.
Unfortunately, conventional medicine still has type 2 diabetes pegged as a problem with blood sugar rather than impaired insulin and leptin signaling, caused by chronically elevated insulin and leptin levels. This is why treating type 2 diabetes with insulin does not help, but actually worsens the problem.
Childhood Diabetes Is Also on the Rise
In the past, type 2 diabetes was referred to as "adult onset" diabetes, and most patients were in the senior category. But as our diets and lifestyles have changed, so has the disease. In the past 20 years, type 2 diabetes in children has jumped from less than 5 percent of all newly diagnosed cases to more than 20 percent.19
The health effects of insulin resistance make the rise in type 2 diabetes among children all the more troubling. Severe insulin resistance is associated with an increase in morbidity and mortality in young adults and a higher risk of hypertension, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and metabolic syndrome.
While the progression to impaired glucose tolerance in children and adolescents is multifactorial, the most important piece is the balance between insulin sensitivity and insulin secretion.20 I recently published a lecture by Ivor Cummins, in which he explains the importance of insulin sensitivity, and how insulin resistance lays the groundwork for the metabolic havoc that leads to heart disease and other chronic dysfunction.
The Links Between Diabetes and Heart Disease
In a nutshell, the higher your insulin resistance, the worse markers such as fasting insulin and triglyceride-HDL ratio will be, placing you at increased risk for diabetes and heart disease. And, while genetics, lack of sleep and inactivity play a role, your diet is really the most important influence.21,22
More often than not, excessive amounts of glucose from net carb foods (total carbohydrates minus fiber) are what set the disease process into motion by spiking your insulin. Repeated over time, insulin resistance develops as you progressively lose the ability to burn fat as your primary fuel.
By regularly measuring your fasting insulin you can give yourself many years' advance notice. A normal fasting blood insulin level is below 5, but ideally you'll want it below 3. By taking immediate action as soon as you find your insulin level creeping upward, you can effectively prevent chronic diseases that might prematurely put you in a casket.
The BEST Solution to Prevent and Reverse Type 2 Diabetes
While I am a major proponent of exercise and it plays an important role in the management of diabetes, it is no way going to resolve the insulin resistance for most people all by itself. Any knowledgeable physician will tell you that optimizing your food is necessary to restore insulin and leptin sensitivity. The problem is there is major controversy in the natural medicine community on how to do this. So how do you do it?
There is no easy answer and I have provided many of the important steps in previous articles, but neither I, nor anyone I know of, has yet to put it all together in a book resource. About a year ago I started writing my new book as a response to provide the foundational first step to treat most cancers. Interestingly, the same metabolic defect responsible for most cancers, mitochondria dysfunction, is also responsible for type 2 diabetes and obesity.
Last week I submitted the final draft of my book for publication and in less than three short months, Fat for Fuel, will be available. This is one of the only books that has been peer reviewed by over 20 of the leading experts in the field. We are currently in the process of interviewing many of these experts for a seven- to nine-hour free documentary that will start to air in May.
To say that I am excited about making Fat for Fuel available is a very serious understatement, as I am confident it will help millions and serve as a major catalyst to change the fatally flawed way modern medicine is treating diabetes and cancer.
Other Ways to Prevent and/or Reverse Type 2 Diabetes
Most of my paternal relatives, my dad included, have, or have died from, diabetes. My personal experience with diabetes and subsequent review of the literature made it very clear to me that virtually every case of type 2 diabetes is reversible — and the cure has nothing to do with giving insulin or taking drugs to control your blood sugar.
In fact, giving insulin to someone with type 2 diabetes is one of the worst things that can be done. The truth of the matter is that type 2 diabetes is a preventable condition that arises from faulty leptin signaling and insulin resistance, both of which are directly diet- and exercise-related. It is NOT a blood sugar disorder.
Once you understand that, the remedy becomes clear: To reverse the disease, you need to recover your body's insulin and leptin sensitivities, and the only way to accomplish that is through proper diet and exercise, as detailed in my free nutrition plan, which goes into all of the following guidelines in greater detail.
✓ Address your diet
Most of the food people eat these days skews metabolism toward insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
Most Americans are burning glucose as their primary fuel, which elevates blood sugar and promotes insulin resistance and inhibits your body's ability to access and burn body fat — hence, the connection between obesity and diabetes. Healthy fat, meanwhile, is a far preferable sort of fuel, as it burns far more efficiently than carbs.
One of the most important dietary recommendations is to limit net carbs (total carbohydrates minus fiber) and protein, replacing them with higher amounts of high quality healthy fats. A key way of preventing diabetes is to keep your net carbs below 50 grams per day.
Keep in mind that the only way you'll know how many total carbs, fiber and net carbs you eat is to keep a food diary. The simplest way of doing this is to use an online nutrition tracker.
Be sure to avoid trans fats and processed foods of all kinds, and boost your fiber intake. Research23 shows that people with high intakes of dietary fiber have a significantly lower risk of obesity and diabetes. Aim for about 50 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories consumed. Also replace sugary beverages with pure water.
✓ Exercise regularly AND get more non-exercise movement into your day
Exercise is one of the fastest and most powerful ways to lower your insulin and leptin resistance. If you're unsure of how to get started, I recommend reviewing my Peak Fitness program for tips and guidelines.
Keep in mind that excessive sitting and general sedentary behavior is equally, if not more, harmful than forgoing an exercise regimen, so make the effort to stand up and move around more throughout the day.
✓ Normalize your omega-3-to-omega-6 ratio
Most get far too little omega-3, found in fatty fish such as wild Alaskan salmon, sardines, anchovies, fish oil and krill oil, and too much omega-6, as it is plentiful in processed vegetable oils and hence processed and fried foods.
✓ Optimize your vitamin D and other important nutrients
Recent research shows low vitamin D is a predictor of type 2 diabetes mortality due to heart disease.24 According to the authors: "This result suggests that vitamin D could be considered as a prognostic factor for [CVD] and death.
This is important because the risk of [CVD] is generally high in people with type 2 diabetes and health care professionals need more accurate tools to identify individuals with an increased risk."
Other nutrients of importance include magnesium and vitamins B12, K2 and C. Vitamins D and B12 are particularly important during pregnancy, as maternal vitamin D deficiency may increase your child's risk for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and B12 deficiency may increase your child's risk of type 2 diabetes.25
✓ Optimize your gut flora
Multiple studies have shown that obese people have different intestinal bacteria than lean people. The more beneficial bacteria you have, the stronger your immune system will be and the better your body will function overall.
Fortunately, optimizing your gut flora is relatively easy. You can reseed your body with good bacteria by eating fermented foods (such as fermented vegetables, natto, raw organic cheese, or raw milk kefir) or by taking a high quality probiotic supplement.
✓ Address any underlying emotional issues and/or stress
Non-invasive tools like the Emotional Freedom Technique can be helpful and effective.
✓ Get eight hours of high quality sleep each night
This will help normalize your hormonal system. Research has shown sleep deprivation can have a significant bearing on your insulin sensitivity.
✓ Monitor your fasting insulin level
This is every bit as important as your fasting blood sugar. You'll want your fasting insulin level to be between 2 and 4. The higher your level, the worse your insulin sensitivity is.
✓ Minimize exposure to common household chemicals
Recent research suggests reducing exposure to phthalates, DDT, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and perfluoroalkyl by 25 percent could lower diabetes rates by 13 percent.26