Insulin is a hormone secreted by an organ called the pancreas, and one of its roles is to transport sugar (glucose) from the bloodstream to cells of the body for energy production. Insulin resistance is where the body cells develop poor receptivity to insulin, and consequently, the sugar stays in the bloodstream (i.e. high blood sugar, also called hyperglycaemia). For type 2 diabetes to develop, insulin resistance and delayed insulin production from the pancreas occurs.
Type 2 diabetes can develop in people of all shapes and sizes. However, all overweight individuals have some degree of insulin resistance (the precursor to diabetes). They can also have something called reactive hypoglycaemia. Reactive hypoglycaemia occurs as excessive fats in the blood (due to a high-calorie diet) and glucose damage the pancreas and cause a delay in insulin release after eating. So despite having elevated blood sugars, the patient feels tired and hungry immediately after eating. When too much insulin is eventually released, which drops the blood sugar too low, causing powerful hunger and fatigue, continuing the cycle. Unfortunately, the lack of cellular energy production creates a strong unconscious drive to seek out high-calorie foods and to conserve energy (to be sedentary) in an attempt to increase cellular energy, despite having a conscious desire to lose weight and get fitter.
But there is good news. Reactive hypoglycaemia and Insulin Resistance can be treated with dietary and lifestyle strategies to prevent the onset of diabetes. And if Type 2 diabetes has already developed there is much that can be done to reverse the condition.
Major cause and risk factors contributing to metabolic dysfunction include:
- High-calorie diet, high glycaemic load diet
- Lack of exercise
- Chronic stress
- Digestive dysbiosis causing low-grade gut-derived inflammation
- Environmental toxicity
- Hormonal imbalances
- Chronic inflammation
Clinical indicators of type 2 diabetes include:
- Vascular disease
- Previous heart attack/stroke
- Intermittent claudication
- Skin tags (cutaneous papillomas, acrochordon)
- Skin cancers
- Male pattern (vertex) balding
- Acanthosis nigricans
- Early puberty
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome
- Low SHBG
- Weight accumulates over the stomach
- History of failed weight loss attempts
- Sleep apnoea
- Day time fatigue/sleepiness
- Erectile dysfunction
- Prostate cancer
- Myopia (short-sightedness)
- High calorie and carbohydrate cravings
Treatment for Diabetes
In many cases of Type 2 diabetes, radical improvements can be seen with the right diet, improved body composition and exercise. There are other treatment strategies that Jodie often suggests to support endothelial health (the lining of blood vessels) even in well-controlled cases. This is important as the endothelium is prone to inflammation (i.e. oxidative stress*) and looking after this delicate tissue can prevent complications of diabetes in the longer term.
Diet, Exercise, Specific Nutrients and Herbal Medicine play an important role:
- Diet: This is unique to the individual and includes: Ketogenic or Low-moderate carbohydrate diets, fasting protocols and/or Anti-inflammatory diet. It is also important to any identify food intolerances and correct dysbiosis if present.
- Nutrients: Zinc, CoQ10, Chromium, Activated B Vitamins, Vitamin D3, Vitamin C, Magnesium, and others
- Exercise: High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is ideal, but any type of movement is beneficial
- Herbal Medicines: Gymnema, Cinnamon, St Mary’s Thistle, Garlic, Ginger, Globe Artichoke, Barberry and others
- Probiotics (if dysbiosis present): Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG), L. Plantarum (299v) and others
* Oxidative stress and damage to the endothelium can occur from high-stress levels, smoking, high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, poor diet and a lack of exercise.