The most important factor in the development of excess body fat, inability to lose weight and insulin resistance are Western dietary habits that promote Type 2 Diabetes and accumulation of excess body fat:
- Eating more calories than are used by the body
- Eating refined carbohydrates instead of high fiber foods
- Eating the wrong type of fats
- Eating insufficient intake of anti-oxidant nutrients
- Failure to address the above four factors is prime reason why most diets fail to empower health, heal or help people lose weight
- Abandoning of traditional diets high in whole, unprocessed foods and the adoption of Western Dietary habits and a sedentary lifestyle which increases the risk factor for Diabetes by 1,100% (11 times) if metabolic obesity is combined with low physical activity
Major risk factors for Insulin Resistance and Type 2 Diabetes
Excess body fat and metabolic obesity, the accumulation of fat around the abdomen leading to increased waist / hip ratio measurement
Type 2 Diabetes has a strong genetic risk factor (ie family history of diabetes) that is mediated by diet and lifestyle factors
Excess body fat
Excess body fat is defined by excess body mass using Body Mass Index to define excess adipose tissue (body fat) that has been created in the body. Adipose tissue is formed due to the influence of the hormone insulin which is released to remove excess blood sugar from the blood and store it as fat in adipose tissue throughout the body. Principally fat is stored in organs of the trunk of the body, especially the waist, and also the liver.
As body mass increases, adipose tissue releases inflammatory cytokines and intermediary messengers which cause fat cells to become insulin resistant. This is to prevent excess fat accumulation in those cells. However, these inflammatory cytokines and messengers may leak into general circulation affecting other cells – notably inducing those cells to become resistant to the effect of insulin. The net effect is that as carbohydrates, under the influence of insulin, are removed from the blood and stored as fat in cells, those cells become insulin resistant and furthermore induce other cells to become insulin resistant. The effect of this is an increase in blood sugar, with cells becoming increasingly resistant to the effects of Insulin throughout the body. These two factors, namely increased blood glucose levels and increasing Insulin Resistance are what lead to the development of Type 2 Diabetes.
The net cause meanwhile of both insulin resistance and Type 2 Diabetes is insufficient use of either carbohydrate (stored as fat) due to lack of exercise or intake of carbohydrate that exceeds use of that carbohydrate (namely cellular use of that carbohydrate to form energy used in muscular exertion).
Preventing and curing Insulin Resistance and Diabetes
- Prevention and cure focuses on prompting cells to release fat for use, thus making them insulin sensitive again, whilst at the same time preventing excess blood glucose (which prompts fat storage through the influence of insulin). Primarily this through avoiding simple, processed and concentrated carbohydrates
- In addition, exercise is needed to both encourage the release and use of stored energy (fat) – an example would be to perform exercise that elevates the heart rate to 60% of maximum for at least 30 minutes 3 times per week.
Dietary approach recommendations for prevention and cure
- Eat small frequent meals: to stabilise blood sugar and reduce the need for carbohydrate storage (ie as fat due to starvation)
- Restrict total carbohydrate intake (but not too low due to the possibility of ketoacidosis)
- Avoid simple carbohydrates (eg fruit juices) and foods with refined sugar as these raise blood sugar rapidly, thus requiring sudden rise in insulin. Excess exposure to insulin leads to down regulated cellular response to insulin resulting in insulin resistance
- Ensure moderate protein intake from fish and lean meats along
- Ensure dietary fat is sourced primarily from vegetables (eg olive oil)
- Increase intake of Omega 3 fatty acids (from cold water fish, fish oil supplements and ground flax seed) as these fats decrease cellular resistance to insulin
- Ensure dietary or supplementary intake of vitamins C, B complex, and minerals Magnesium, Chromium, Zinc
- Use herbal sweeteners such as Stevia. Stevia helps stabilize blood sugar and does not require insulin for its metabolism
Exercise and Stress
- Regular exercise lowers blood sugar, helps control weight, oxygenates tissue and stimulates metabolic functions. It also burns fat and stabilizes blood sugar
- Vigorous exercise leads to direct absorption of glucose into cells without the help of insulin, leading to decreased likelihood that body will react to sugar intake with surges in insulin
- Stress causes production and circulation of adrenaline and cortisol, hormones that raise blood sugar. Relaxation and stress reducing exercise such as yoga are recommended
Specific Food recommendations and Insulin Spikes
- Emphasize foods low on the Glycemic Index (GI) which have low impact blood sugar levels thus preventing the need for insulin (ie low insulin spike)
- Foods causing low insulin spike and are low GI include: most fresh vegetables, leafy greens, pitted fruits and lemons, 100% wholegrain cereals and breads, sweet potatoes and yams, buttermilk, poultry, lean meats, fish and most legumes and nuts
- Foods high on the GI index and causing insulin spike include white bread, bagels, English muffins, packaged cereals, instant cereals, low fat desserts, raisin and dried fruits, whole milk and whole milk cheese, peanuts and peanut butter, hot dogs and luncheon meats
- Cooked foods are higher on the Glycemic Index than raw foods. Fruits and vegetables that have been juiced or pureed rank higher on the index than when eaten whole
- Eat foods high in complex carbohydrates and fiber such as whole grains, legumes and vegetables as these foods slow and control the release of glucose into the blood. This reduces the need for insulin
- Plant fiber absorbs water and suspends food particles leading to slower absorption and also slower consequential uptake of glucose to the blood
- Increased water content needed to aid adjustment to fiber intake and reduce side effects (such as increased gas production)
- Foods that are low GI and high in fiber include Olives, Soy beans / legumes, nuts, Artichokes, Bitter melon, Garlic, Sunchokes, Mangoes, Onions
Other Specific food recommendations
- Eat foods that are high in Chromium: Fresh chilli; potatoes; green pepper; parsnips; spinach, Carrots, Lettuce; Apple, Banana, Orange, Blueberries; Meats, whole grains and Chromium enriched Nutritional yeast. Chromium recovers, enhances and increases cellular sensitivity to insulin. Chromium also assists in to lowering body weight and increasing lean body mass
- Cinnamon may help control blood sugar (1g / ¼ tsp per day for 40 days)
- Alpha-Lipoic Acid: may lower insulin resistance and increase cellular utilization of glucose
Murray, M. (2005). Encyclopedia of Healing Food. New York, N.Y.: Atria Books.
Murray, M. (2003). How to Prevent and Treat Diabetes. New York, Riverhead Books.
Goldberg, B. (2002). Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide(2ndEd). Berkeley, Ca., Celestial Arts.