By Suzanne Ridley | with Steve Eggleston
Welcome to the debut Blog for our ground-breaking book, The Fast Diabetes Solution, a Holistic Formula for Reversing Diabetes and Living a Healthy, Happy Life, by Suzanne Ridley | with Steve Eggleston and our life changing Diabetes Recovery Program available inside our Diabetes Recovery Membership.
In this Blog, we will discuss breaking news about diabetes, the exciting new research that’s entering the scene, and the latest studies on what is working to prevent, reverse, and cure diabetes. Whenever possible, we will also offer tips and advice on the use of fasting to battle this persistent disease.
Today we will focus on the question “What is the cause of type 2 diabetes?”, with a spoiler alert: it is NOT as simple as high blood sugar. By knowing the cause, we can take practical steps to prevent, reverse and even cure type 2 diabetes for a substantial portion of the population.
The statistics are mind-numbing, but we can’t forget them. It’s often reported that nearly a half billion people worldwide suffer from prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. However, Chinese health officials recently revealed that nearly half the adult Chinese population of 1.4 billion are, diabetic, or prediabetic. When all these statistics are reconciled, it may well be that nearly 1 BILLION people worldwide will join the victim pool. So if you are one, you are not alone by any stretch of the imagination.
Let’s approach diabetes like we would any other problem. When we have a problem, we look to the cause. Eliminate the cause, eliminate the problem. If water is leaking through the ceiling, we look for a broken water pipe, leaky valve, or defective roof. When we think we’ve found the source of the leak, we repair or replace whatever seems broken. If the leaking does not return when the water is turned back on, we know we’ve identified and fixed the cause of the problem. Both the cause (the leaking pipe) and the effect (water spilling through the ceiling tiles) are gone.
Though it’s infinitely more complicated, let’s take this same approach to problems of human health, starting with the common cold or flu. When we have a problem, we look to the cause. For colds and flues, the cause is a virus or bacteria (the so-called bug) entering our bloodstream and, for a few days usually, overpowering our immune system before our white blood cells can kill it off. During this time, we are sick, evincing symptoms like fever, sore throat, and runny nose. On top of that, we feel tired and crappy (the effect). You may temporarily ward off these effects with cold and flu tablets, but after awhile they will return because the virus is still present. Thus, the cause is the bug and the effect is feeling bad.
Enter type 2 diabetes. Something is the cause, and something is the effect. Since the symptoms are easier to identify, as with a cold or flu, let’s start there. Symptoms vary from person to person, but the constellation of traditionally-recognized symptoms for people with type 2 diabetes are the following: on the lighter side, increased thirst, increased hunger (especially after eating), dry mouth, frequent urination, headaches and fatigue; and on the severe side, blurred vision, blindness, and nerve pain and numbness in the feet or extremities (leading to amputation).
Notice what is not traditionally listed as a symptom of type 2 diabetes: high blood sugar. In fact, if you asked a hundred general practitioners (doctors) and pharmacists what the cause of all these light and severe symptoms are, the vast majority would tell you the same thing: high blood sugar. Blood sugar is tested by a blood test called the haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) or simply A1c. For healthy people, we find four percent to 5.5 percent of our blood’s haemoglobin being bound to glucose (glucose being the sugar). Push that level up to 5.6 percent to 6.4 percent, and you are prediabetic. Test above that and you will be diagnosed and treated for having the disease of type 2 diabetes.
Since most health care professionals have been taught that high blood sugar (i.e., high blood glucose) is the cause of type 2 diabetes and its constellation of symptoms, they put their focus there, looking at what happens between the phenomenon of having high blood sugar and suffering the symptoms. That focus has led mainstream medicine to focus on the use of drugs to lower blood sugar levels. But when these high blood sugar levels are merely a symptom of the true underlying cause of type 2 diabetes, then, we are left with the inevitable outcome of blood sugars again eventually rising to unhealthy levels, because the true culprit is left untreated and allowed to continue it’s devastation behind the smoke screen of blood sugar.
So who is this invisible culprit? Lets look at the clues. When glucose enters the blood, your pancreas responds by producing insulin to transport it into the cells for energy. This glucose will fill immediate energy requirements, but will also be stored for later use into two types of energy stores, glycogen, then, fat. Glycogen are strings of sugars kept in the liver and the muscle. The liver has a rather small capacity for glycogen, so it does not take long before fat storage is activated to be ushered around the body for later use.
This is normal and perfectly fine. We need these forms of energy for times when our diet cannot provide enough energy, say, when we are sweating it out at the gym during intense workouts, or, for when we go through longer periods of time without food. For example, when we are sleeping we are not eating so every morning our liver dumps some glucose into our blood from our glycogen stores to get us going for the day ahead.
All goes well when we have our times with food and times without, balanced. But, when we are eating too much, too often, especially when eating the wrong types foods, we see constant gushing of glucose into the blood. The pancreas is constantly sounding the bugle for its insulin soldiers to charge, however, the gushing of blood glucose does not stop. With these constantly high levels of blood glucose and blood insulin, two things happen.
First, all the excess sugar is converted to (unwanted) fat. Second, our cells start resisting the efforts of our insulin to deliver so much glucose to them, in a way screaming, “too much already!”. As Dr. Jason Fung so astutely points out in his writings “A New Paradigm of Insulin Resistance”, our cells have become packed full of glucose and will not take any more. This creates an overflow effect (water the rags will not absorb) so that blood sugars flood the cells and spill into the bloodstream, as opposed to the cells being starved of sugar and deficient of energy (which many still believe to be the case in diabetes type 2), and, as we find in type 1 diabetes.
The “starved cells vs overflowing cells” debate is central to debunking the myth that your type 2 diabetes is an incurable, lifelong and progressive disease. In a nutshell, the mainstream medical fraternity’s logic with the starved cell paradigm goes like this: insulin is the key that unlocks the receptors on the cells to allow the blood glucose to enter and be utilised for energy. When there are constantly high levels of blood insulin, overtime these receptors somehow become gummed up or blunted from overuse, and then, resist the action of insulin. This is understood as Insulin Resistance. They see it as a defective “Lock and Key” mechanism. Now, that the key (insulin) cannot effectively open the lock (receptor) of the cells to allow the sugar in, the bloodstream banks up with glucose and the cells become starved of sugar and nutrients.
The new paradigm of insulin resistance views this resistance as an overflow effect, where the cells are not starved, but are actually swimming in sugar. With so much sugar entering the system, and, in turn, calling upon wave after wave of insulin to do its job, our waistlines begin to expand and we notice fat stores popping up around our body. But soon, the liver becomes inundated with sugar and is unable to push the fat into our love handles and thighs, fast enough. The liver begins to clog up with fat. As a result, this sugar filled and now fatty liver, starts a domino effect of insulin resistance. First, the sugar builds up in the cells, and then, spills out into the blood stream only to join forces with the incessant flow of glucose entering the blood from the intestines. Now, the body is one big fat sugar bowl.
Which paradigm is correct? Well, get out the lab coats and put on your beret. Lets do some myth busting, shall we?
We can bust this “defective lock and key/sugar starved cell” myth wide open with the simple fact that fat production in the liver not only continues in a type 2 diabetic patient, but actually enhances. Lets take a closer look. Insulin has two key messages for the liver. First, it tells the liver to stop Gluconeogenesis, which is the process of the liver producing new glucose. It says “Hey, no need to do that mate, I’ve got plenty of glucose coming in from the blood stream”. And second, insulin says “Okay, now it’s time to start packing all this excess sugar away as fat stores for the long winter ahead”. And with this, through the process of De Novo Lipogenesis, meaning the creation of new fat, fat production is turned on.
Why is it important to understand this? Because, of 2 reasons. One, if the lock and key mechanism, is defective (resisting the message of insulin) then fat storage in the liver would not be turned on (it wouldn’t be able to hear the message) – but this is exactly what happens. Two, the liver requires the cells to feed it sugar in order to continue making fat. No sugar entering the cells equals no fat. But again, this is precisely what is happening.
Now these two important points are established, it becomes obviously clear. If the cells were truly starved of sugar due to the receptors being unable to welcome sugar to enter, then, we wouldn’t be seeing the build up of fat surrounding and penetrating the liver. Yet, this has become the hallmark of type 2 diabetes. Just to spell it out, this is an impossibility! Consider this myth thoroughly debunked.
These cells are obviously not starved of sugar, nor does the blunted lock and key explanation hold up under interrogation. Instead, these sugar filled cells can no longer take in any more sugar and have become resistant to the action of insulin (they just can’t fit anymore sugar inside). This is the new paradigm of insulin resistance.
Further, this resistance is heard by a persistent pancreas that produces more insulin to get the job done, its logic being, more insulin will get more glucose into the recalcitrant cells. Similarly, like the blunted lock and key concept, mainstream medicine has formed the view that these beta cells eventually become worn out from overuse and their ability to produce enough insulin is permanently diminished. However, we take a different viewpoint. Yes, over time, the beta cells of the pancreas struggle to keep up with the demand on insulin, but not because they are worn or burnt out. Instead, the pancreas too begins to get clogged with fat, inhibiting its ability to function normally.
When the fat is removed (through such things as fasting and healthy diet), the normal function of the pancreas returns and the beta cells go about their business unclogged. Professor of Medicine and Metabolism at the University of Newcastle, Roy Taylor, describes the phenomena as one where the beta cells have been woken up! They were never damaged, just inhibited metabolically by the clogging effect of the pancreatic fat. Again, if these beta cells, like the gateway receptors, were truly worn out or damaged, then their function would not be restored with the removal of visceral fat. But, this is exactly what was discovered in Professor Roy Taylor’s studies.
The tragedy happens at this juncture, because of the view that the mechanisms to regulate blood sugar are broken, and high blood sugar is the cause and not itself a symptom. When our levels first started showing high (at 5.6 percent) to kick off our prediabetes, we were likely given pills like Metformin to manage our levels. As an antidiabetic medicine, Metformin hopes to lower our blood sugar levels by one percent to 1.5% or stop them from getting worse, purportedly by improving the sensitivity of our cells to insulin. The problem is that, over time, this is not effective because all we’re doing is cleaning up the water with a wet rag, not addressing the source of the leak. Yes, high blood sugar is like the water in the leaking roof example.
What, then, is the source or cause of abnormally high blood sugar and insulin resistance in type 2 diabetics? A wide variety of highly-credentialed physicians and scientists have tackled this question head on and have arrived at a simple and clear answer, along the lines of the main theme of our book, that preventing, treating, and reversing type 2 diabetes takes a healthy, holistic approach to living that begins with a whole food diet and fasting, but includes system-wide balances in our mind and body that regulate for good health. That’s a lot of words, so let’s boil it down.
In a sentence, type 2 diabetes is caused by hyperinsulinemia, meaning too much insulin in the blood. Remember, insulin’s job is to transport the blood sugar into the cells for energy. So, if you are eating foods that yell out to the pancreas for a quick burst of insulin, and then combine this with a feeding regimen of eating more than 3 times a day (snacking between and after meals) – then you are flooding your blood with insulin and creating insulin resistance.
If you are prediabetic or type 2 diabetic, what you are eating and how often you are eating is killing you. That’s right. The cause of type 2 diabetics is mainly diet and lifestyle. If you regularly eat a nutrition-poor, high-carbohydrate diet with no or little blood insulin down-time, you are at serious risk for obesity and type 2 diabetes. Exercise, stress control, and regular 8+ hours of sleep will all help you to make a diabetes recovery, and, are also highly important for your overall health and longevity for a long healthy life after reversing diabetes. But, the place to start is by reducing carbohydrates in the diet and paying close attention to when you are eating so that you reduce your exposure to insulin. This can be boosted with periods of fasting.
What constitutes a nutrition-poor, high carbohydrate diet? Any diet that is high on carbs, added sugars – with an emphasis on fructose (we will leave this for another blog), and foods low in fiber and nutrients. In other words, what typically comes in a box, package or can, is the culprit. Eat at your own peril.
So let’s circle back to where we started: looking at high blood sugar. Mainstream medicine and pharmacology sees it as the cause and throws pills at it (and surgery at the extremes). Without doubt drugs have their place, but using them to alleviate a symptom will never bring about a cure. Doing that is like adding new rags to clean up the spill, and wrapping them around a leaking pipe does not address the cause of the problem. It does not stop the leaking water.
With type 2 diabetes, the cause is an unhealthy diet and unbalanced lifestyle. Get those in control with a whole food diet and essential tools like fasting, and your A1c levels will drop every time and stay dropped. Why? Because you are giving the body a break from the hyper secretion of insulin that goes hand in hand with a processed carbohydrate rich diet and a snacking lifestyle.
If you’d like more information about what it takes to reverse diabetes and live a life of diabetes freedom subscribe to our free diabetes mini course, or click this link to join our Diabetes Recovery Membership and take part in our Diabetes Recovery Program.