Your Choices Affect Your Health

Diabetes

What Causes Type 2 Diabetes?

Prediabetes and type 2 diabetes are caused by insulin resistance, brought about by the buildup of fat inside our muscle cells (intramyocellular lipid). As resistance increases, glucose (sugar) can’t get into the body’s cells and builds up in the bloodstream. To overcome the fat-induced insulin resistance in the muscles, the pancreas pumps out more and more insulin. These high insulin levels lead to the accumulation of fat in the liver (fatty liver disease). As fat builds up in our liver, it no longer responds to insulin signals and continues to pump out blood sugar. Creating a vicious cycle of the pancreas pumping out more insulin to deal with the high sugars, and our liver getting fatter and pumping out more blood sugar. The liver begins dumping fat back into the bloodstream (VLDL cholesterol) which starts building up in the beta cells of the pancreas. Insulin production starts to fail as beta cells in the pancreas are killed off by the fatty buildup. Type 2 diabetes is a condition of fatty muscles which leads to a fatty liver, which leads to a fatty pancreas. The myth that “eating sugar causes diabetes” is inaccurate. High blood sugar is a symptom of diabetes, not the cause.

Type 2 Diabetes and a Standard American Diet

The standard American diet emphasizing meat and dairy products rich with saturated fats, aided by sugary foods and beverages, cause fat-induced insulin resistance. A diet heavy in animal products and other acidic foods can also cause an acid load in the body resulting in reduced insulin sensitivity. Saturated fats not only cause insulin resistance, but they can also cause the death of pancreatic beta cells.

Type 2 Diabetes and a Whole Food Plant-Based Diet

A whole food plant-based helps prevent and actually reverse diabetes while also promoting weight loss. A diet emphasizing vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes lower blood sugar levels and raise insulin sensitivity. Plant-based monounsaturated fats (from nuts, olives, and avocados) can improve insulin sensitivity. The high fiber content of leafy green vegetables helps to regulate blood sugar levels. Green leafy vegetables also contain antioxidants that help to protect the beta cells of the pancreas. Several studies report that a vegan diet may be able to provide complete relief of systemic distal polyneuropathy symptoms (a condition that causes sharp, burning pain).

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