Does Sugar Cause Diabetes?
The recent film What the Health raised the question as to whether sugar or other carbohydrates cause diabetes. Because blood sugar levels are high in diabetes, a common notion has held that eating sugar somehow triggers the disease process. The American Diabetes Association and Diabetes UK have labeled this notion a “myth,” as has the Joslin Diabetes Center, which wrote, “Diabetes is not caused by eating too much sugar.” These and other organizations have worked to educate people about the causes of diabetes and the role that foods play in the disease process. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. Type 2 diabetes—the most common form of the disease—is caused by insulin resistance and pancreatic failure. Sugar can play an aiding and abetting role in diabetes, but the idea that “eating sugar causes diabetes” is simplistic and interferes with efforts to help the public understand the actual causes of the disease and how to protect themselves and their families. Here is what you need to know: The human body runs on glucose, a simple sugar. Just as gasoline powers your car, glucose powers your muscles, your brain, and the rest of your body. Glucose comes from fruit and from starchy foods, such as grains, beans, and potatoes, and your body can also produce it when needed. Without it, you would die. Diabetes means having higher-than-normal blood glucose values. It comes in three common forms: Type 1 diabetes is caused by the destruction of the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas, usually through an autoimmune process. The triggers for this process are under investigation and may include dairy proteins, viruses, or other factors. Type 2 diabetes typically starts with insulin resistance. That is, the cells of the body resist insulin’s efforts to escort Continue reading >>
Does Fat Cause Insulin Resistance?
For decades now, we have been told that fatness (or “obesity”) is a major cause of diabetes. Health “experts” have warned about this, but they could never say how being overweight could cause insulin resistance (IR). Without IR, you can’t have Type 2 diabetes, so the whole “blame fat” theory has been suspect. Well, now they have a plausible explanation. Obesity may cause inflammation, causing IR, leading to diabetes. But is this theory true? Does adipose (fat) tissue really create inflammation? Or do both obesity and inflammation come from some other cause? Get ready for some science as I try to explore these questions. In a new report in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, two Japanese scientists report that “obesity is associated with a state of chronic, low-grade inflammation.” They explain that as fat cells get larger, they seem to attract immune cells called macrophages. These cells produce inflammatory chemicals called cytokines that help cause insulin resistance. Chief among these chemicals are interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor-alpha. In animal models, insulin resistance doesn’t occur until after macrophages invade the fat cells. So the question remains, which comes first, the inflammation or the fatness? What draws the immune cells into adipose tissue? Remember that most overweight people never develop diabetes. And some overweight people have much more inflammation than others. (The same is true of thin people, of course.) Why do some develop this fat-related inflammation and some don’t? Some think that weight itself provokes inflammation. According to French scientists writing in the journal European Cytokine Network, weight loss is associated with reduced “macrophage infiltration” and reduced inflammation. Also, another chemical, Continue reading >>
Fat Is The Cause Of Type 2 Diabetes
ron: I’m glad you asked this question, because it gets at a common issue that many people share. Due to science education in schools and the way media reports on scientific news, the general public is under the impression that each new study sort of wipes out any study that came before. Say that yesterday there was a study or article in favor of say butter, then you would see those headlines and think that the latest and greatest WORD from science is that butter is healthy. And then tomorrow, when another study comes out showing that butter is indeed unhealthy, there is another headline and people think that the latest “word” is that butter is now unhealthy. Another problem is that because people think the latest study is the latest word and since studies are not all going to agree, people think that the science keeps flip flopping and get frustrated with that. The media makes this worse by only reporting studies that they can make appear to be a “flip flop” as the media makes money off of eye catching headlines. . But that’s not how science actually works. When done in good faith, science is about hitting a subject from a whole bunch of different angles and attempting to replicate results multiple times. Understanding that life is messy and it’s extremely difficult (impossible?) to create perfect studies for subjects as complex as nutrition on long term health, we *expect* that not all the studies will agree with each other. However, over time, if we do our job, we can also expect that the *body of scientific evidence* will paint a fairly clear picture. I say all the time, “It’s not about any one study. It’s about the body of evidence.” . Did you know that there are over 100 studies showing that smoking is either neutral or health-promoting? But t Continue reading >>
Fat, Not Sugar, Causes Type 2 Diabetes
Though the media and most health professionals promote the message that high sugar consumption is the cause of type 2 diabetes, this idea is not really true. Type 2 diabetes is a chronic disease in which the body cells become resistant to insulin, resulting in a rise in blood sugar. High blood sugar is a symptom of diabetes, not the cause of the disease. So what then is the actual cause of type 2 diabetes? Every time a person eats, his or her blood sugar level rises. An increase in the concentrations of blood glucose stimulates the pancreas to secrete insulin, the hormone responsible for transporting sugar from the bloodstream into the cells. Without insulin, glucose cannot get into the liver, muscle, and fat cells. Insulin signals fat, liver, and muscle cells to absorb glucose from the blood by opening the 'glucose gates' on the cells. Insulin works by binding to insulin receptors located on the surface of these cells and triggering a series of enzymes that activate a set of glucose transporter proteins (GLUT4) which convey glucose from the bloodstream into muscle, liver, and fat cells. Once glucose is transported into the cells, plasma concentrations of glucose return to normal within hours. What if the insulin signaling process is disrupted and cells can no longer respond to insulin? Disruption of the insulin signaling process will result in a condition called insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a condition where the pancreas secretes insulin, but fat and muscle cells do not respond to it by taking in the glucose. Since the glucose obtained from Insulin Resistance creating diets cannot get into the cells, and they have no where else to go, glucose will remain in the bloodstream, leading to an increase in blood sugar levels. This is what happens in type 2 dia Continue reading >>
Dietary Fat And Blood Glucose
When most people with diabetes think about the effects that different foods have on their blood glucose levels, one particular component of foods usually comes to mind: carbohydrates. And rightfully so, since out of the three major macronutrients in the human diet — carbohydrates, proteins, and fats — carbohydrates have the greatest effect on blood glucose levels. But as a recent study makes clear, fats can also have a significant effect on blood glucose levels — both positive and negative. As many people with diabetes have experienced firsthand, eating fats in combination with carbohydrates can affect how quickly the carbohydrates are absorbed in the digestive tract, potentially leading to a slower, more sustained rise in blood glucose levels. But this study looked at a different, often overlooked aspect of dietary fat: what type it is — saturated, monounsaturated, or polyunsaturated — as well as the effect of substituting fat for carbohydrate. Published last month in the journal PLOS Medicine, the study examined 102 different clinical trials in which participants followed different diets and had their blood glucose, insulin, and HbA1c (a measure of long-term blood glucose control) levels recorded. A total of 4,220 adults — some of whom had diabetes — and 239 different diet groups were included in the study. Within each of the clinical trials, participants in each diet group consumed the same number of calories, regardless of the other aspects of their diet. As noted in a HealthDay article on the study, the researchers found that some fats raised blood glucose levels less than others — and that substituting some fats for carbohydrates could also lead to better blood glucose control. When participants switched out 5% of the calories in their diet from ca Continue reading >>
Does A High-fat Diet Cause Type 2 Diabetes?
154 Comments This is a special guest post from Denise Minger (thank you, Denise!). When fear-inducing news headlines hit the papers (and airwaves and iPads…) – High-Fat Diet Linked to Breast Cancer, Eating Whole Grains Will Help You Live Longer, Fish Oil Linked to Prostate Cancer – she’s the person to go to for an honest and entertaining critique of the research. In the last week I’ve received an untold number of emails from inquiring Mark’s Daily Apple readers about this latest health news “bombshell”. So, naturally, Denise… It’s that time again. Your inbox is filling up with emails from your low-fat friends. Your mom left four voicemails ordering you to throw away your bacon now (and clean your room while you’re at it). Your diet-savvy coworker left a Yahoo! News article on your desk, weighted in place with a muffin. This just in: High-fat diets cause diabetes—and researchers have proof, doggonit! At least, that’s what you’d assume from reading headlines like “How Fatty Food Triggers Diabetes” and “Study Reveals How High-Fat Diet Causes Type-2 Diabetes.” It might come as a surprise, then, that this study isn’t really about food at all – it’s about the effect of obesity on gene expression. In mice, no less. This is a classic example of the media spinning an article to help it grab attention, because most people wouldn’t give a flying Fudgsicle if they knew what it was really about. If you haven’t browsed it already, you can check out the study’s abstract here, officially titled “Pathway to diabetes through attenuation of pancreatic beta cell glycosylation and glucose transport.” (The full text is securely tucked behind a $32 pay-wall.) Between the jargony bits and focus on mice, it might be tempting to slide this stud Continue reading >>
Can Eating Too Much Sugar Cause Type 2 Diabetes?
Because type 2 diabetes is linked to high levels of sugar in the blood, it may seem logical to assume that eating too much sugar is the cause of the disease. But of course, it’s not that simple. “This has been around for years, this idea that eating too much sugar causes diabetes — but the truth is, type 2 diabetes is a multifactorial disease with many different types of causes,” says Lynn Grieger, RDN, CDE, a nutrition coach in Prescott, Arizona, and a medical reviewer for Everyday Health. “Type 2 diabetes is really complex.” That said, some research does suggest that eating too many sweetened foods can affect type 2 diabetes risk, and with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimating that 30.3 million Americans have the disease — and that millions of more individuals are projected to develop it, too — understanding all the risk factors for the disease, including sugar consumption, is essential to help reverse the diabetes epidemic. The Sugar and Type 2 Diabetes Story: Not So Sweet After the suspicion that sugar was the cause of diabetes, the scientific community pointed its finger at carbohydrates. That makes sense, notes Grieger, explaining that simple and complex carbohydrates are both metabolized as sugar, leading blood sugar levels to fluctuate. Yet carbs are processed differently in the body based on their type: While simple carbs are digested and metabolized quickly, complex carbs take longer to go through this system, resulting in more stable blood sugar. “It comes down to their chemical forms: A simple carbohydrate has a simpler chemical makeup, so it doesn’t take as much for it to be digested, whereas the complex ones take a little longer,” Grieger explains. Sources of complex carbohydrates include whole-wheat bread an Continue reading >>
5 Reasons Why People With Diabetes Need To Eat Fat
5 Reasons Why People With Diabetes Need to Eat Fat In our personal coaching program we work with hundreds of clients who have diabetes and, time and time again, we see their need for blood sugar reducing medications (like insulin and Metformin) decrease when they eat more fat. A common misconception when you are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes is youre doomed to forever be a diabetic and your need for pills and insulin will continue to increase for the rest of your life. This flat out isnt true. We can prevent and reverse the damage in our cells when we are eating the right foods in the right amounts, and this includes plenty of fat. We know that healthy fat is important for everyone, for a million different reasons. If I were to pick one population who especially need to eat fat, even more than most, it would be people with diabetes.Ironically, this is the exact opposite of what we are being taught by the American Diabetes Association and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. These same associations are known to cover up blood sugar imbalances with prescription medication, not the functional medicine, real food approach we embracehere. The standard diabetes treatment approach is a backwards, after the fact approach because it focuses on treating the symptoms rather than the underlying cause. With proper nutrition, medication isnt needed to target elevated blood glucose levels. Carbohydrate counting is still considered the gold standard, ensuring that people with diabetes are getting enough carbohydrates for blood sugar control, with the general goal being 45-60 grams at meals and 15-30 grams at snacks. This boggles my mind since carbohydrates are the VERY thing that cause spikes in blood sugar levels! Fat doesn't spike blood sugar levels, carbohydrates do. Once you u Continue reading >>
“sugar Does Not Cause Diabetes”: Did The Film What The Health Get It Right?
The documentary What the Health is receiving a huge amount of attention and most of it is positive. Many reports of people attempting to eat better are filling social media. I discussed the film on a local TV station in Detroit after two reporters indicated that the movie had made a big impact on their diets. There have even been reports that restaurants serving healthier fare have seen an uptick in customers attributing the change to the film. I have seen this in my own plant-based restaurant and have a What The Health Happy Hour that has been very popular. Naturally, there have been critics of the movie defending their viewpoint that meat based diets are healthy, but most have rallied around a statement in the film by Neal Barnard, MD that “sugar does not cause diabetes”. As the answer to this question may be important to you, I have done some research and share it here but this is in NO way an endorsement to add back soda and candy bars to your diet. In a world stressed by growing obesity and its medical consequences, limiting sugar is a universal recommendation from all health experts. 1) Type 1 diabetes is not caused by sugar. All agree on this as type 1 diabetes is considered an autoimmune disease leading to destruction of the insulin producing cells in the pancreas. However, patients with type 1 diabetes can develop and reverse insulin resistance (IR) in their muscles and liver so understanding the origin of IR is important. 2) Who is Neal Barnard, MD? Dr. Barnard is a graduate of the George Washington University School of Medicine and an adjunct associate professor of medicine there. He has published over 70 scientific publications (including long term studies on diet and diabetes) and 18 books including several New York Times bestsellers on health and diabe Continue reading >>
Fat Vs Sugar In The War On Insulin Resistance
Dietary choices are implicated in increasing risk, but sometimes it is hard to know where to look when seeking advice on what to eat! But is it fat or sugar we should be more concerned about? Or both? It seems the answer to that question is a little complex. First, let’s look at the action of insulin. When insulin gets high Insulin impacts the synthesis and storage of glucose, fat and amino acids. It is primarily recognised for its regulation of blood glucose levels, and maintains balance of levels of sugar in the blood by: moving glucose from the blood into muscle cells or adipose (fat) tissue, and; inhibiting the formation of glucose from non-carbs, i.e. fats and proteins (a process called gluconeogenesis that takes place in the liver when blood glucose runs low).1 It then gathers excess glucose in the blood and stores it as fat. It also acts as an appetite regulator, and whilst its role is not well defined, once insulin acts to deposits fat into fat cells, leptin – the hunger suppressant hormone – is stimulated to release.1 In insulin resistance, it has been observed that glucose and free fatty acids are persistently high in the blood, likely due to ‘resistant’ cells not heeding to insulin’s call, meaning less glucose uptake by muscle cells, and adipose cells no longer inhibiting free fatty acid release.1 This then results in higher levels of insulin being produced, and chronically high insulin is known as hyperinsulinemia. Liver and kidney cells do not become resistant to insulin-like the muscle and fat cells, and instead are hyper-stimulated to produce triglycerides and retain sodium respectively. This results in high levels of TGL in the blood, and high blood pressure.1 Neither situation is great, especially for your heart. So, considering insulin is i Continue reading >>
Is Fat Killing You, Or Is Sugar?
In the early nineteen-sixties, when cholesterol was declared an enemy of health, my parents quickly enlisted in the war on fat. Onion rolls slathered with butter, herring in thick cream sauce, brisket of beef with a side of stuffed derma, and other staples of our family cuisine disappeared from our table. Margarine dethroned butter, vinegar replaced cream sauce, poached fish substituted for brisket. I recall experiencing something like withdrawal, daydreaming about past feasts as my stomach grumbled. My father’s blood-cholesterol level—not to mention that of his siblings and friends—became a regular topic of conversation at the dinner table. Yet, despite the restrictive diet, his number scarcely budged, and a few years later, in his mid-fifties, he had a heart attack and died. The dangers of fat haunted me after his death. When, in my forties, my cholesterol level rose to 242—200 is considered the upper limit of what’s healthy—I embarked on a regimen that restricted fatty foods (and also cut down on carbohydrates). Six months later, having shed ten pounds, I rechecked my level. It was unchanged; genes have a way of signalling their power. But as soon as my doctor put me on just a tiny dose of a statin medication my cholesterol plummeted more than eighty points. In recent decades, fat has been making a comeback. Researchers have questioned whether dietary fat is necessarily dangerous, and have shown that not all fats are created equal. People now look for ways of boosting the “good cholesterol” in their blood and extol the benefits of Mediterranean diets, with their emphasis on olive oil and fatty nuts. In some quarters, blame for obesity and heart disease has shifted from fat to carbohydrates. The Atkins diet and, more recently, the paleo diet have popul Continue reading >>
10 Diabetes Diet Myths
Have you heard that eating too much sugar causes diabetes? Or maybe someone told you that you have to give up all your favorite foods when you’re on a diabetes diet? Well, those things aren’t true. In fact, there are plenty of myths about dieting and food. Use this guide to separate fact from fiction. MYTH. The truth is that diabetes begins when something disrupts your body's ability to turn the food you eat into energy. MYTH. If you have diabetes, you need to plan your meals, but the general idea is simple. You’ll want to keep your blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible. Choose foods that work along with your activities and any medications you take. Will you need to make adjustments to what you eat? Probably. But your new way of eating may not require as many changes as you think. MYTH. Carbs are the foundation of a healthy diet whether you have diabetes or not. They do affect your blood sugar levels, which is why you’ll need to keep up with how many you eat each day. Some carbs have vitamins, minerals, and fiber. So choose those ones, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Starchy, sugary carbs are not a great choice because they have less to offer. They’re more like a flash in the pan than fuel your body can rely on. MYTH. Because carbs affect blood sugar levels so quickly, you may be tempted to eat less of them and substitute more protein. But take care to choose your protein carefully. If it comes with too much saturated fat, that’s risky for your heart’s health. Keep an eye on your portion size too. Talk to your dietitian or doctor about how much protein is right for you. MYTH. If you use insulin for your diabetes, you may learn how to adjust the amount and type you take to match the amount of food you eat. But this doesn't mean you Continue reading >>
Diet And Diabetes: Why Saturated Fats Are The Real Enemy
Diet and Diabetes: Why Saturated Fats Are the Real Enemy This is the seventh article in our Controversies series and the third piece focusing on the subject of fats. Today, we are going to explore the very important relationship between saturated fat intake and the onset of diabetes. As we mentioned in The Ultimate Guide to Saturated Fats , Once we control for weight, alcohol, smoking, exercise and family history, the incidence of diabetes is significantly associated with the proportion of saturated fat in our blood. Today we will take a deep dive to fully understand why there is such a strong link between diabetes and saturated fat consumption. We will also discuss how a plant-based diet may protect you from (or even reverse!) the disease. Insulin resistance is a hallmark of both prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. So what is insulin resistance exactly (and why is it important)? Insulin is what permits glucose (sugar) in the blood to enter our (muscle) cells. In essence, insulin unlocks the door, allowing the glucose to come in. If there is no insulin at all (the case of type 1 diabetes), the blood sugar hangs out in the bloodstream because it cannot get inside. That causes the blood sugar levels to rise. But what happens if the insulin is there but is simply not working properly? In that case, the lock to the cell door is blocked. This is what is called insulin resistance. So what causes insulin resistance in the first place? Fat build-up inside (muscle) cells creates toxic fatty breakdown products and free radicals that block the insulin-signaling process, close the glucose gate, and make blood sugar levels rise. In fact, insulin resistance can occur in 180 short minutes (just 3 hours!) after the consumption of fat. The process of insulin resistance, caused by the buil Continue reading >>
Fat Vs Sugar In The War On Insulin Resistance
Fat vs Sugar in the war on insulin resistance Insulin resistance and the incidence of type 2 diabetes are on the rise. Dietary choices are implicated in increasing risk, but sometimes it is hard to know where to look when seeking advice on what to eat! But is it fat or sugar we should be more concerned about? Or both?It seems the answer to that question is a little complex. First, lets look at the action of insulin. Insulin impacts the synthesis and storage of glucose, fat and amino acids. It is primarily recognised for its regulation of blood glucose levels, and maintains balance of levels of sugar in the blood by: moving glucose from the blood into muscle cells or adipose (fat) tissue, and; inhibiting the formation of glucose from non-carbs, i.e. fats and proteins (a process called gluconeogenesis that takes place in the liver when blood glucose runs low).1 It then gathers excess glucose in the blood and stores it as fat. It also acts as an appetite regulator, and whilst its role is not well defined, once insulin acts to deposits fat into fat cells, leptin the hunger suppressant hormone is stimulated to release.1 In insulin resistance, it has been observed that glucose and free fatty acids are persistently high in the blood, likely due to resistant cells not heeding to insulins call, meaning less glucose uptake by muscle cells, and adipose cells no longer inhibiting free fatty acid release.1 This then results in higher levels of insulin being produced, and chronically high insulin is known as hyperinsulinemia. Liver and kidney cells do not become resistant to insulin-like the muscle and fat cells, and instead are hyper-stimulated to produce triglycerides and retain sodium respectively. This results in high levels of TGL in the blood, and high blood pressure.1Neither Continue reading >>
Does Fat Cause Type 2 Diabetes?
Does fat cause type 2 diabetes? How common is it that people reverse type 2 diabetes, using fasting and low carb, and over what period of time? Should you use carb counting or glycemic index counting? Dr. Jason Fung is one of the world’s leading experts on fasting for weight loss and diabetes reversal. Here are a his answers to those questions and more: What proportion of patients at your clinic succeed in reversing diabetes, and over what period of time? It would be interesting to have some reference points for people with different starting BMI’s and duration of diabetes – but any figures would be good: e.g. Of people with an initial BMI over 40 and diabetes over 10 years, x% had reversed it after 3 months, y% after 6 months and z% after 1 year. Barbara It all depends on motivation and compliance. I don’t have hard numbers on compliance but my ballpark estimate is that only about half the patients in the clinic are compliant. Our Long Distance Program has much higher compliance, maybe 60-70%. People who are not complying, i.e. they are not really following the program, have little chance of benefit. Of those that comply, I would estimate that 80% show improvement in their type 2 diabetes. However, to get complete reversal often takes years or more. The disease of type 2 diabetes takes decades or more to develop and does not go away fully in 2 weeks. That’s only wishful thinking. Also, if you return to the diet that gave you type 2 diabetes, the disease will return. The most important factors in how long it takes is how severe your type 2 diabetes is, and how long you’ve had it (along with compliance). If you fast once or twice a week for 24 hours, it could take many years to fully reverse, if ever. If you do repeated, prolonged fasts, it may happen sooner. Continue reading >>