By Dr. Mercola
There is a staggering amount of misinformation on diabetes, a growing epidemic that afflicts more than 26 million in the United States today. The sad truth is this: it could be your very OWN physician perpetuating this misinformation
Most diabetics find themselves in a black hole of helplessness, clueless about how to reverse their condition. The bigger concern is that more than half of those with Type 2 diabetes are NOT even aware they have diabetes.
Diabetes: Symptoms of an Epidemic
The latest diabetes statistics 1 echo an increase in diabetes cases, both diagnosed and undiagnosed. By some estimates, diabetes has increased more than 700 percent in the last 50 years!
At least 26 million Americans are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and another 79 million are prediabetic.
What’s hidden behind medical smokescreen is that Type 2 diabetes is completely preventable. The cure lies in a true understanding of the underlying cause (which is impaired insulin and leptin sensitivity) and implementing simple, inexpensive lifestyle adjustments that spell phenomenal benefits to your health.
Type 1 Diabetes and Insulin Dependence
Also known as diabetes mellitus, type 2 diabetes is a chronic health condition traditionally characterized by elevated levels of glucose in your blood, or simply high blood sugar. Type 1 diabetes – dubbed “juvenile onset diabetes” – is the relatively uncommon type, affecting only about one in 250 Americans. Occurring in individuals younger than age 20, it has no known cure.
In Type 1 diabetes, your own immune system ravages the insulin-producing cells of your pancreas. The result is a loss of the hormone insulin. Type 1 diabetics need to be supplemented with insulin for the rest of their lives as failure to do will rapidly result in death. At the current time other than a pancreas transplant there is no known cure for type 1 diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes: Virtually 100% Curable
The far more common form of diabetes is type 2, which affects 90 to 95 percent of diabetics. In this type, your body produces insulin but is unable to recognize and use it properly. It is considered an advanced stage of insulin resistance. Insulin resistance allows sugar to increase and cause of host of complications.
The signs of diabetes may all be there, but the often-overlooked fact is that Type 2 diabetes is completely preventable and nearly 100% curable.
Excessive thirst Extreme hunger (even after eating) Nausea and possible vomiting Unusual gain weight or loss Increased fatigue Irritability Blurred vision Slow healing of wounds Frequent infections (skin, urinary, vaginal) Numbness or tingling in hands and/or feet
How They Got It All Wrong About Diabetes…
Diabetes is NOT a disease of blood sugar, but rather a disorder of insulin and leptin signaling. Mainstream medicine largely fails in treating diabetes – even worsens it – because it refuses to investigate and act on this underlying cause. Insulin sensitivity is key in this matter. Your pancreas secretes insulin into your bloodstream, lowering your glucose. Insulin is meant to control the lifespan in some organisms, but what is its true purpose in humans?
As Dr. Ron Rosedale explains in an article about the metabolic effects of insulin:
“Your doctor will say that it’s to lower blood sugar, but I will tell you right now that that is a trivial side effect. Insulin’s evolutionary purpose as is known right now, we are looking at other possibilities, is to store excess nutrients.
We come from a time of feast and famine when if we couldn’t store the excess energy during times of feasting, we would not be here because all of our ancestors encountered famine. We are only here because our ancestors were able to store nutrients, which they were able to do because they were able to elevate their insulin in response to any elevation in energy that the organism encountered.
When your body notices that sugar is elevated, it is a sign that you’ve got more than you need; you’re not burning it so it is accumulating in your blood. So insulin will be released to take that sugar and store it…”
Insulin regulation plays such as an integral role in your health and longevity, that elevated levels are not only symptoms of diabetes, but also heart disease, peripheral vascular disease, stroke, high blood pressure, cancer, and obesity.
Diabetes and Leptin and Insulin Resistance
Leptin is a hormone produced in your fat cells. One of its primary roles is to regulate your appetite and body weight. It tells your brain when to eat, how much to eat, and when to stop eating, which is why it’s called the “satiety hormone.” It also tells your brain what to do with the energy it has.
Not very long ago it was determined that mice without any leptin became very obese. Similarly when one becomes leptin resistant, that mimics leptin deficiency and it becomes very easy to rapidly gain weight.
Leptin is responsible for the accuracy of insulin signaling and for your insulin resistance. As Dr. Rosedale discussed in the excerpt above: when your blood sugar becomes elevated, insulin is released to direct the extra energy for storage. A small amount is stored as glycogen (a starch), while the majority is stored as fat, your main energy supply.
Thus, the primary role of insulin is NOT to lower your blood sugar, but to store the extra energy for future consumption. Its ability to lower your blood sugar is merely a “side effect” of this energy storage process.
“Treating” diabetes by merely concentrating on lowering blood sugar can be a dangerous approach, because it does not address in any way shape or form the actual issue of metabolic miscommunication.
Taking insulin can actually spell greater trouble for Type 2 diabetes patients, as it will worsen their leptin and insulin resistance over time. The only known way to reestablish proper leptin (and insulin) signaling is through your diet. This can have a more profound influence on your health than any known drug or modality of medical treatment.
Fructose: A Driving Force Behind the Diabetes and Obesity Epidemic
Dr. Johnson reviews this fascinating topic in the interview below that I did regarding the landmark book, The Fat Switch, which carefully explains how consuming fructose activates a powerful biological switch that causes use to gain weight. This is actually highly beneficial capability that allows many species, and early humans, to survive times of food scarcity and winter.
Unfortunately technology advancements has allowed food to be pervasively and easily available for most so this fat switch has lost its biological advantage and instead of helping many people live longer, it is actually working to their disadvantage and killing them prematurely.
You might be interested to know that “death by sugar” is not at all an exaggeration. The overwhelming amount of fructose in the standard American diet is a major factor in rise of diabetes rates in the country. While glucose is designed to be used by your body for energy (regular sugar is 50 percent glucose), fructose breaks down into a variety of toxins that can devastate your health.
The Fat Switch also documents many of the adverse effects of fructose such as:
- Elevates uric acid, which may lead to inflammation and a host of other diseases that include hypertension, kidney disease, and fatty liver.
- Leads to insulin resistance, an underlying factor in Type 2 diabetes, heart diseases, and many cancers.
- Tricks your body into gaining weight by deceiving your metabolism. Fructose doesn’t appropriately stimulate insulin, which, as a result, fails to suppress ghrelin (hunger hormone) and to stimulate leptin (satiety hormone).
- Rapidly leads to metabolic syndrome, or weight gain and abdominal obesity (beer belly), decreased HDL, increased LDL, elevated triglycerides, elevated blood sugar, and high blood pressure.
- Metabolizes like ethanol, causing toxic effects like non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases (NAFLD).
Government Corn Subsidies Make the Problem Even Worse
Lawmakers whose campaigns are underwritten by agribusinesses use billions of taxpayer dollars to subsidize the commodities that are the key ingredients of unhealthy food – corn, soybeans, wheat, etc. This manufactured price inequality helps junk food undersell nutritious food.
Corn, at the top of the list, raked in over $77 billion from the government between 1995 and 2010, and the subsidies have only been going up.
There’s a common belief that healthy food is inherently more expensive, and thus can only be for the wealthy. But in fact, healthy food could easily be more affordable for everyone, if not for agribusiness CEOs, their lobbyists and the politicians in their pockets.
Is it a coincidence that the number one source of calories in the United States, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), is made from the most heavily subsidized crop — corn?
I think not.
HFCS is pervasive and in many processed food items you would never expect, including diet foods and “enhanced” water products. Even most infant formulas contain the sugar equivalent of one can of Coca-Cola! Government subsidies have also allowed corn to become a staple in animal feeds, which means even animal-based foods like conventionally-raised meats are tainted or nutritionally altered by HFCS.
One of the effects of the farm bill is to create a negative feedback loop that perpetuates the highly profitable standard American diet. These junk-food subsidies make it much cheaper to buy a burger, fries and soda from a fast-food restaurant than it is to buy grass-fed beef and veggies. It’s not that these foods necessarily cost more to grow or produce but is that the prices for the junk foods are being artificially reduced by the government.
The end result is a food culture that is a primary driver of diabetes and disease, rather than a primary driver of health!
According to one meta-analysis, drinking just ONE soda — or other sweetened drink, including Vitamin Water — per day can raise your risk of developing diabetes by 25 percent, compared to drinking just one sugary drink per month.
Diabetes Drugs Are NOT the Answer
The failure of conventional medicine to effectively prevent and treat diabetes is most evident in the dangerous drugs it promotes, foremost of which is Avandia. Avandia hit the market in 1999, after the mounting of a multimillion-dollar ad campaign that made it a blockbuster drug. By 2006, Avandia’s annual revenue was 3.2 million dollars.
Avandia sales, however, plummeted to 1.2 billion dollars in 2009, two years after a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine 2 linked Avandia to a 43 percent increased risk of heart attack, along with a 64 percent higher risk of cardiovascular death (compared to patients treated with other methods).
But in a show of either bias or callousness, a committee of independent experts recommended that Avandia remain on the market despite the risks. An FDA oversight board voted 8 to 7 to accept the advice.
Avandia works by making diabetes patients more sensitive to their own insulin in order to control blood sugar levels. It specifically reduces your blood sugar by raising the sensitivity of your liver, fat, and muscle cells to insulin.
In fact, most conventional Type 2 diabetes treatments use drugs that either raise insulin or lower blood sugar.
As I have already explained, the problem is that diabetes is NOT a disease of blood sugar. Focusing on the symptom of diabetes (which is elevated blood sugar) rather addressing the root cause is an exercise in futility and could even be downright dangerous. Nearly 100 percent of Type 2 diabetics can be successfully cured without drugs. You just might be surprised to know that you can eat, exercise, and live your way to recovery…
Effective Diabetes Diet and Lifestyle Tips
I’ve simplified the various effective ways to increase your insulin and leptin sensitivity – and prevent or reverse diabetes – into six easy, highly doable steps.
- Exercise. Contrary to prevailing recommendations of shunning exercise during illness, staying fit is highly important in getting diabetes and other diseases under control. In fact, it is one of the fastest, most powerful ways to lower your insulin and leptin resistance. Get a headstart today by reading more about
Peak Fitness – less workout time, more benefits.
- Eliminate grains and sugars, especially fructose. Conventional diabetes treatment has failed over the last 50 years partly because of its seriously flawed dietary principles. Eliminate ALL sugars and grains – even “healthful” ones like whole, organic, or sprouted grains – from your diet. Avoid breads, pasta, cereals, rice, potatoes, and corn (which is, in fact, a grain). Until your blood sugar gets under control, you may want to avoid fruits as well.
- Get plenty of omega-3 fats from a high-quality, animal-based source.
- Monitor your fasting insulin level. Every bit as important as your fasting blood sugar, your fasting insulin level should be between 2 and 4. The higher your level, the worse your insulin sensitivity is.
- Get probiotics. Your gut is a living ecosystem of a multitude of bacteria. The more good bacteria you have, the stronger your immunity and the better your overall function will be. Optimize your gut flora by consuming fermented foods like natto, miso, kefir, raw organic cheese, and cultured vegetables. You may also take a high-quality probiotic supplement.
How Sun Exposure Can Help Treat and Prevent Diabetes
Have you been getting adequate sun exposure?
More and more studies come out confirming the power of vitamin D, a steroid hormone, to influence virtually every cell in your body. Receptors that respond to vitamin D have been found in nearly every type of human cell, from your bones to your brain. Recent research shows that women can help reduce their children’s risk of Type 1 diabetes by optimizing their vitamin D levels prior to and during pregnancy, as vitamin D has been shown to suppress certain cells of the immune system that may be a factor in the disease.
Studies published between 1990 and 2009 3 also revealed a significant link between high levels of vitamin D and a lowered risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, along with cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome. It will likely take decades before healthy policy catches up with what overwhelming scientific evidence has already revealed about the benefits of vitamin D, and before increased sunlight exposure becomes the norm. But you don’t have to take part in the waiting game – you can optimize your levels right NOW.
Ideally, you should regularly expose a large amount of your skin to healthy amounts of sunshine, preferably as close to solar noon as possible. Direct UV exposure translates to up to 20,000 units of vitamin D a day. You may also use a safe tanning bed or supplement with oral vitamin D3. If you choose to do the latter, have your vitamin D levels routinely tested by a proficient lab to see if you are within the therapeutic range. Follow age-appropriate vitamin D doses when supplementing.
VITAMIN D DOSE RECOMMENDATIONS AGE DOSAGE Below 5 35 units per pound per day Age 5 – 10 2500 units Age 18 – 30 8000 units Pregnant Women 8000 units WARNING:
There is no way to know if the above recommendations are correct. The ONLY way to know is to test your blood. You might need 4-5 times the amount recommended above. Ideally your blood level of 25 OH D should be 60ng/ml.
Don’t Be a Diabetes Statistic – Take Control of Your Health
To summarize, type 2 diabetes is a fully preventable, reversible condition that arises from faulty leptin signaling and insulin resistance. Therefore, diabetes can be controlled or reversed by recovering your insulin and leptin sensitivities. The only known way to reestablish proper leptin and insulin signaling is through a proper diet and exercise. There is NO drug that can currently accomplish this, and I doubt if one will ever exist in the lifetime of anyone reading this!
A meta-analysis of 13 randomized controlled trials involving more than 33,000 people showed that drug treatment of type 2 diabetes is not only ineffective, it’s dangerous. Treatment with glucose-lowering drugs actually showed the potential to increase your risk of death from heart-related and all other causes.
So please remember, your diet will make or break you if you’re diabetic or pre-diabetic. Unfortunately, the conventional dietary recommendations for diabetics – that of a high complex carbohydrate, low saturated fat diet – is the exact opposite of what actually works.
High complex carbohydrates include legumes, potatoes, corn, rice and grain products. Aside from legumes, you actually want to AVOID all the rest to prevent insulin resistance. Nearly all type 2 diabetics need to swap out their grains and sugars for other foods, such as protein, green veggies and healthy sources of fat. You will want to take special care to eliminate fructose, which is far more detrimental than any other type of sugar.
Drinking just one sweetened drink a day can raise your diabetes risk by 25 percent compared to drinking one sugary drink per month, so you really need to evaluate your diet and look for hidden sources of sugar and fructose. This also means avoiding most processed foods of all kinds, as they are loaded with fructose. You may even need to avoid fruits until your blood sugar is under control.
I strongly advise keeping your total fructose consumption below 25 grams per day. However, it would be wise for most people to limit fructose to 15 grams or less, as it is virtually guaranteed you will be getting “hidden” sources of fructose from just about any processed food you eat.
Following my nutrition plan will help you do this without much fuss, as it walks you through the steps you need to get back on the road to optimal health.
- 1 National Diabetes Statistics, 2011.
- 2 Effect of Rosiglitazone on the Risk of Myocardial Infarction and Death from Cardiovascular Causes, New England Journal of Medicine, June 2007: 356(24); 2457-71, S. E. Nissen, et al.
- 3 Levels of Vitamin D and Cardiometabolic Disorders: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis, Maturitas, March 2010: 65(3): 225-36, J. Parker, et. al.