One hundred million Americans right now have either diabetes or pre-diabetes, that puts them at risk for amputations, heart disease and blindness. It is achievable to turn around this epidemic; the word “epidemic” comes from Old Greek: ‘epi’ means ‘on’, ‘demos’ means ‘people’, so an epidemic is something we study with sterile statistics, maps, and graphs; but the truth is, it is something that impinges directly on people, on living, breathing, human beings.
Our culture is massively misunderstanding the true causes of diabetes, the cause and potential cure of type-2 diabetes as well as the cause and mitigation of type-1 diabetes. According to the CDC almost 10% of people in the U.S. are diabetic, and in addition to that, 70 million people are pre-diabetic.
Diabetes is one of the leading causes of death, also a major cause of disability, amputations and blindness. As a culture we have singled out sugar as the main cause of diabetes; when in reality if diabetes is like a forest fire, sugar is more like a strong wind, it is going to spread the fire but it is definitely not going to cause the fire. We are going to find out what is actually striking that fire in the first place. There are two types of diabetes, there’s type-1 diabetes that was formerly known as juvenile diabetes which is insulin dependent and then there’s type 2 diabetes which is what 90% of people have.
Type 2 diabetes it’s somewhat caused by diet lifestyle; a study that followed 17,000 people found that for every 50 gram increase of meat consumption there was an 8% increased chance of getting diabetes (InterAct Consortium et al., 2013). The biggest cultural misconception about diabetes is that carbohydrates are universally bad and high protein foods are a good way to manage insulin; that is wrong because protein is insulinogenic as well. Holt, Miller, and Petocz (1997) published in the American Journal Clinical Nurtrition an index for the insulin production of various foods discovering that meat spiked insulin as much as pure white sugar and white pasta spikes insulin less than fish. All of this creates a pretty clear picture of how when you go on a vegan diet you can reduce your insulin levels by one-third as a study showed (Bloomer et al., 2010).
There are a lot of mechanisms that animal products increase the risk of diabetes with; let’s look at saturated fat, we get our saturated fat from pretty much all animal products at least the vast majority of it is from animal products. The first thing to know is that insulin is created by the beta cells on our pancreas; a healthy pancreas can respond appropriately to incoming sugar, but saturated fat can damage the beta cells on our pancreas and make it very difficult to appropriately respond to sugar that is been eaten. Cunha et al. (2012) compares the levels of a beta cell killing protein known as death protein 5 after eating saturated fat, to the fat found in plants like avocados.
The same study concluded that saturated fats are harmful to beta cells; saturated fat raises free fatty acids which are lipotoxins that are toxic to our beta cells.
A study said A chronic increase in plasma free fatty acid levels is harmful as shown by the important effects of these dietary components in pancreatic beta cell lipotoxicity. Fatty acid derivatives can interfere with the function of these cells and ultimately lead to their death (Estadella et al., 2013). You can put saturated fat into somebodys system and actually watch their pancreatic function be impaired. A prolonged elevation of free fatty acids which are raised by saturated fat impairs insulin-producing beta cells, particularly in individuals with genetic predisposition (Estadella et al., 2013).
There are genes for diabetes but an important thing to remember is that genes are in two categories; certain genes are dictators like the ones that say blue eyes or brown hair, they give orders you cannot argue. Genes for diabetes are committees, their activity depends on what we put into our bodies.
Diabetes genes are possibly activated by eating animal products; even though you may believe that you have no control over a disease because its genetic, if you are willing to give up animal products you can gain control again. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition following 650 men concluded that if saturated fatty acids as a percentage of total energy were decreased from 14% to 8%, there would be an 18% decrease in fasting insulin and a 25% decrease in insulin postprandial (Parker et al., 1993).
Saturated fat is just one mechanism, animal protein itself may also be beating the pancreas; turns out that animal protein is loaded with amino acid leucine, which over stimulates the enzyme TOR that is known to accelerate aging. TOR burns out those beta cells that produce insulin from our pancreas; high meat intake equals high leucine intake which over stimulates TOR and burns out our insulin-producing beta cells. It turns out a plant-based diet and plants in general have way less leucine than animal products, you have to eat a hundred apples to get as much leucine as a hundred grams of steak. This study concluded that critical attention needs to be paid to the daily intake of animal proteins especially leucine rich meat and dairy proteins (Zoncu, Sabatini & Efeyan, 2010)
Intramyocellular lipids (fat within the muscle cell). A high-fat and animal product rich diet does not just make it harder for you to produce insulin, it also makes it difficult for your body to use the insulin that it can make. On a high-fat diet like the typical Western diet where we consume 33% of our total calories from fat according to the CDC, the fat can end up inside and around your muscle cells which makes it very difficult for insulin pathways to work correctly- everything just get too gummed up. Petersen et al., (2004) showed that intramyocellular lipids are strongly associated with insulin sensitivity.
With fat inside your muscle cells glucose trying to get inside to feed your muscles is a bit like trying to get into your car after pouring a bucket of bacon grease all over it. Barnard et al. (2009) found that the intramyocellular lipids of vegans versus omnivores is 31% less. A vegan diet is clearly helpful but there is more benefits that plant-based diet can have in addition to just reducing your saturated fat and leucine intake; Tonstad et all. (2011) showed that the less animal products you eat the lower incidence you have of diabetes. Anderson and Ward (1979) showed that when you switch someone to a plant-based diet you can reduce their diabetes and take them off their medication entirely in 55% of the cases.
Not only is reducing the consumption of animal products super effective but just eating more plants can be amazing as well; beans can have the same effect in slowing sugar absorption as one of the leading diabetic drugs.
Type 1 diabetes, previously known as juvenile diabetes or insulin dependent diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which your own body attacks those insulin producing cells on your pancreas; there is approximately 2 million people in the U.S. that have this disease. This is where once again society is completely wrong about the cause, we believe that dairy products and milk are really healthy for you and even necessary, but it turns out that they are the driving factor in type 1 diabetes.
Casein is a milk protein that has the exact same 17 amino acids as the beta cells on your pancreas; as we digest casein, a leaky gut can let that sequence of amino acids into your bloodstream, where your body will create antibodies to target and kill these amino acids, but since those antibodies free float around in your blood also attack the beta cells on your pancreas. The levels of cow’s milk antibodies in diabetic children have levels that are often eight times high when compared to normal children, and they have dangerously high peaks of these antibodies; these antibodies are in your blood, so they undoubtedly make it to your pancreas where they can destroy your beta cells (Karjalainen et al.,1992). The issue is that after the age of 20 we stopped producing new beta cells, so the damage that is done is done.
Type-1 diabetes can cause some extreme conditions, the number one being diabetic retinopathy or just diabetic blindness; modern medicine can only promise a slowing of the progression of diabetic blindness with techniques like shooting lasers at your retinas. A plant-based diet can reverse diabetic retinopathy without a laser beam to the eyeballs, this was first showed by Kemper, Peschel, and Schlayer(1958) with the famous rice diet where Kemper thought he was going to make it worse because it was a 90% carbohydrates diet, but it turns out he reversed diabetic blindness in 30% of the patients. In the study of the diet of rice, fruit and no animal products, he took people from not being able to read headlines to normal vision.
Another condition is diabetic neuropathy, where people can experience decades of constant uncontrollable severe burning pain, but it turns out that in just 4 to 16 days on a plant-based diet 80% of people get complete relief from diabetic neuropathy (Crane & Sample, 2009).
Finally to put the irrational carb fearing at ease; the Okinawan people, who ate a diet of 85% of calories from carbohydrates, had no problems with diabetes whatsoever, this doesn’t mean is fine to chug a bottle of high fructose corn syrup. It seems that people with type-1 diabetes who go on a plant-based diet can have dramatic results; Thomas K. (2015), who went on a plant-based diet six years ago noted my blood sugar remains easily under control and I have never experienced even one hint of diabetic complication.
The overt solution for people with type 1 diabetes is not to trigger an autoimmune reaction by consuming animal-derived foods, keeping saturated fat away of their cells. In conclusion, do not be afraid of carbohydrates from whole plant foods; it is achievable to vanish type-2 diabetes by switching to a plant-based diet and wane the fear of diabetic complications; everybody with diabetes in general could diminish their chance of death, disability, amputation, blindness and agony. Is worth abstaining from animal products in diet to maximize life expectancy and enjoy life.
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