Dr. Eduardo Castro wrestles with the current state of diabetes treatment and what is, in his opinion, one of modern medicine’s greatest flaws.
Insulin resistance underlies the development of debilitating and deadly diseases that women are suffering and dying from. These diseases consume the majority of health care dollars, for an illness that is both preventable and treatable.
Type 2 diabetes is a state of severe insulin resistance — when a person’s body has become more and more resistant to the effects of insulin, to the point that blood glucose levels cannot be brought down into a safe range. The result is that both glucose and insulin levels in the blood are too high. Conventional medicine only treats the high blood glucose, and does so with drugs that further elevate insulin levels. Chronically elevated insulin produces the physiological disaster discussed in Part I.
Insulin resistance is caused by a diet that raises blood glucose levels too high and for too long. There is a genetic component, but it is overemphasized — no one is sentenced to Type 2 diabetes by their genes. Those with genes that make them more vulnerable simply need to work harder than others to avoid/cure diabetes.
Understanding how Type 2 diabetes develops and how to cure it takes some effort. Those who have this form of diabetes are pre-diabetic, or are overweight (and may have a baffling difficulty losing that weight), and would be well served to make the effort. But while understanding it has a few complexities, treating it is simple and straightforward.
Insulin and insulin receptors
After insulin is secreted by the pancreas, it circulates through the body and attaches to insulin receptors on the surfaces of cells. The insulin receptors send the message to the cell’s nucleus.
Receptors for hormones have the capacity to change their sensitivity. It is a built-in protective mechanism. If there is an excess of a hormone present, it is the receptor’s job to gradually become less sensitive. This keeps the body from overdoing the effects of the hormone.
Likewise, if there is very little hormone present, the receptors gradually become more sensitive and fire more readily than they normally do.
This down- and up regulation by the receptor is the key to understanding Type 2 diabetes and its cure.
A diet that constantly elevates blood glucose levels requires increasing secretion of insulin to lower glucose levels to a safe range. Over time, the elevated levels of insulin cause the insulin receptors to down-regulate — the onset of insulin resistance.
If there is no change in diet, a vicious cycle ensues. Insulin resistance means that more insulin must be secreted to control blood glucose levels, and over time, that extra insulin leads to more insulin resistance. And on and on: The greater the insulin resistance, the higher the insulin levels; the higher the insulin levels, the greater the insulin resistance.
The key issue is that the receptors are not broken in insulin resistance or in Type 2 diabetes; they are merely down-regulated. They are attempting to protect the body from the continually elevating levels of insulin.
If a person with insulin resistance eats food that requires only small amounts of insulin, the insulin receptors will eventually sense it and respond by becoming slightly more sensitive to insulin. If that person sticks with the diet, a favorable cycle kicks in. Lower insulin levels lead to greater insulin sensitivity, and greater insulin sensitivity leads to lower insulin levels.
To reverse insulin resistance and cure Type 2 diabetes a person must eat only low glycemic index foods and avoid all sweeteners until the problem is corrected. It is that straightforward.
Low glycemic index foods are those that are slowly converted to glucose so they do not cause sudden jumps in blood glucose unless eaten in excess.
Sugars are not the only sweeteners that must be avoided. Artificial sweeteners must be avoided as well, because even though they do not increase blood glucose levels, they increase insulin levels just as though a person ate real sugar.
The simple sugar fructose has a very low glycemic index but must be carefully avoided. It does not elevate glucose but it is converted to fat in the liver and it has adverse effects on insulin receptors.
Exercise improves insulin receptor sensitivity. So do several nutrients like cinnamon extract, chromium, vanadyl sulfate, alpha lipoic acid, zinc, Gymnema sylvestre and CoQ10. Metformin, a prescription drug, also increases insulin sensitivity.
In a culture that places the bottom line above health, and one in which ill health is the source of massive profits, we must inform ourselves and share useful information to make decisions that promote our health. Type 2 diabetes and its attendant risks are avoidable and curable.