Obesity is Only One Piece of the Diabetes Puzzle

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September 13, 2007 | 80,652 views

Although the health implications of diabetes are clear, researchers are still struggling to understand many of the aspects of the disease.

One question being asked is why most people with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese, when most overweight or obese people are not diabetics?

The fat cells themselves may offer a clue. These cells release triglycerides and free fatty acids into the blood, which may decrease cells ability to respond to insulin, thereby increasing the body’s demand for the hormone. Paradoxically, another hormone, adiponectin, is also made by fat cells, and this hormone makes cells more responsive to insulin.

According to Dr. C. Ronald Kahn, a diabetes researcher and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, the fatter you are, the less adiponectin your fat cells produce. Therefore, one way obesity might increase your risk of developing diabetes is by an increased release of fatty acids, combined with a decline in adiponectin, which would lead to more insulin resistance. If your body’s demand for insulin cannot be met, diabetes eventually sets in.

Another question being pondered in scientific circles is why high blood sugar specifically leads to the disease’s other complications:

–  Heart disease and stroke
–  Nerve damage
–  Kidney damage
–  Sight-threatening eye damage

Theoretically, if your blood contains high levels of glucose, every cell in your body would be affected, yet only certain cells appear to be damaged, leading to the complications mentioned.

Scientists have discovered that the unscathed cells are those capable of keeping out excess glucose, by reducing the number of molecular glucose pumps they use to transport glucose from the blood to the interior of the cell.

Cells that are damaged lack this ability to compensate. They include cells lining the arterial blood vessels, small blood vessels in the eyes and kidney, nerve cells in the legs and feet, and pancreatic cells – exactly those involved in diabetic complications.

New York Times August 20, 2007


The diabetes statistics are quite staggering. Nearly 20 million people in the United States have it, and another 45 million have pre-diabetes. Type 2 diabetes (insulin resistant) accounts for more than 95 percent of diabetics, but a growing number of those with type 1 diabetes (insulin dependent) are beginning to suffer the effects of type 2 as well.

If you have diabetes and weight issues, statistics show that you double your risk of dying prematurely. Fortunately, type 2 diabetes is completely preventable, and is almost always curable, using simple dietary and lifestyle modifications -- excess weight is the most avoidable risk factor for type 2 diabetes.

Solving the Puzzle by Looking at the Right Puzzle Pieces  

Medications and supplements are not the answer for diabetes. This disease can be controlled by recovering your insulin and leptin sensitivities.  

How is this done? 

By eliminating grains and sugars in your diet, getting enough good fats, exercising, and sleeping well. 

Piece # 1 – Your Diet

It is truly unfortunate that the American Diabetes Association (ADA), and nearly every endocrinologist who treats type 1 diabetes, has no idea whatsoever about the concept of slow carbs and nutritional typing.

Everyone needs a certain amount of carbohydrates, but many are addicted to grains, potatoes, and sweets, and most of you are consuming far too many dangerous carbohydrates, which can lead to serious chronic health problems like obesity and diabetes. 

Any meal or snack high in grain and sugar carbohydrates (as opposed to vegetable carbs) typically generates a rapid rise in blood glucose. To compensate, your pancreas secretes insulin into your bloodstream, which lowers your blood sugar. Insulin is essentially a storage hormone that helps you store the excess calories from carbohydrates in the form of fat in case of famine. 

Over time, your body will become “sensitized” to insulin and require more and more of it to get the job done. Eventually, you can become insulin resistant and then diabetes can set in.

Adding to an already problematic situation, when your insulin levels rise due to an excess of carbohydrates, it sends your body a hormonal message telling it to store fat while holding on to the fat that is already there. So not only do excess carbohydrates make you fat -- they keep you fat.

The medical profession still treats diabetes as a disease of blood sugar (since that is a symptom that can be modified with drugs), when in fact diabetes is not a disease of blood sugar; it is a disease of insulin, and perhaps even more appropriately, leptin signaling.

Leptin is the mechanism by which your fat stores speak to your brain, letting your brain know how much energy is available and, very importantly, what to do with it. Studies have shown that leptin plays significant if not primary roles in heart disease, obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis, autoimmune diseases, reproductive disorders, and perhaps the rate of aging itself. 

The only known way to reestablish proper leptin (and insulin) signaling is via diet.  

While nearly all type 2 diabetics need to swap out grains for other foods, some of you will benefit from using protein for the substitution, while others need to use more vegetable-only carbs. Therefore, along with reducing grains and sugars, determining your nutritional type will give you some insight into what foods you should use to replace the grains and sugars. 

Piece # 2 – Your Physical Fitness 

If you live a sedentary lifestyle, you’re at a higher risk of developing diabetes because you’re missing the beneficial effects of exercise. Exercise works by increasing the sensitivity of insulin receptors so the insulin that is present works much more effectively, and your body doesn't need to produce as much.  

One special note, however, would be that diabetics with blood sugars over 170 mg/dl need to use extra caution and medical supervision for their exercise program, because elevated blood sugars may rise further with exercise.

Most diabetics will benefit from one hour of intense exercise at least five times per week, and more if their blood sugar is currently out of control.

Piece # 3 – Your Sleep Habits and Stress Patterns

Too little sleep may reduce levels of leptin, leading to weight gain and increased risk of diabetes. If you suffer from any kind of sleep disturbance, try one or several of these simple, natural recommendations to get the proper rest your mind and body needs.

The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) can be used to treat emotional stresses, including food cravings such as those related to sugar and grains.

No matter how devoted you are to a healthy lifestyle, it is nearly impossible to reach your goals if emotional barriers stand in your way. EFT uses a combination of kinetic energy input and positive affirmations to release you of your emotional "blocks," and can help you deal more effectively with your day-to-day stresses.

How do You Know if You Have Diabetes in the First Place?  

More than 50 percent of pre-diabetics are not even aware that they have this disease, which can be devastating.  

A fasting blood sugar test can reveal if you have diabetes. The formal definition of pre-diabetes is blood sugars over 110, yet below 126. However, realistically it should be below 100. If your blood sugar is over 100, you will most certainly want to use the two most effective "drugs" known for diabetes: Diet and exercise. 

Remember that pre-diabetes is far easier to turn around if you catch it in the earlier stages, and achieving a healthy weight through diet and exercise can put you on the road to reversing the disease.