To understand how to reverse diabetes, we must first understand how it happens. In this case, we must distinguish between Type I diabetes (or ‘true’ diabetes), and Type II. A bit of history: what we now know as Type II diabetes has been known by other names for centuries, and was previously successfully treated by changing the diet. It wasn’t until the 1930s that the illness was linked by symptoms to classic (Type I) diabetes.
In fact, the illnesses are separate and have different causes. Why then, do we treat them with the same medication, insulin? And what has the treatment of Type II diabetes, which is essentially a disease of insulin resistance, done to our collective health?
For most Type II diabetics, their illness was preceded by insulin resistance, and that by obesity. It may take twenty years to progress from consuming enough food to gain a few pounds to becoming a full-blown diabetic, so we are well on our way to the underlying cause by the time we show symptoms.
Here’s how it works: you consume food, and the macronutrients in the food (fat, protein, and carbohydrates) break down into substances that fuel your body. For now, we’re not going to discuss fats. The macronutrients we’re interested in are carbs and proteins, both of which produce an insulin response. The role of insulin is to open a receptor that allows glucose to enter your cells.
From there, the liver decides and implements how that glucose is utilized. Some of it fuels your daily energy needs. If there’s more than you need, it is converted to stored energy in the form of fat. A complex interaction of many hormones is involved. Don’t believe the old ‘calories in/calories out’ model. For our purposes, there is no such thing as a calorie. That model is a simplistic one that doesn’t consider the role of hormones, basal metabolism, or even excretion. Suffice it to say that if we’re taking in more fuel than we require, slowly our bodies store more fat here and there. No problem – our average blood sugar hasn’t started to rise yet, because we’ve got plenty of cells with storage space to expand with fat. The liver can keep up.
The Tipping Point
However, for each of us there’s a point at which our cells become less responsive to the ‘open sesame’ command of insulin. Now the body begins to reflexively produce more insulin to overcome the problem. At this point, you might experience the sudden let-down of low blood sugar, say, after you eat a donut. The body races to clear the blood of glucose from that sugary food, and suddenly you don’t have enough to fuel your brain, much less your physical needs. What do you do? You eat something to counteract that awful feeling, and the cycle repeats. Blood sugar spikes, insulin levels rise, blood sugar is swept into your cells, low blood sugar symptoms result, ad infinitum.
Eventually, your cells are so full of glucose that no more can be stuffed in, resulting in the glucose piling up in the blood; i.e., high blood sugar. Most people haven’t even heard of insulin resistance, but if they have, they’ve been led to mistakenly believe those receptors are resistant to being opened, requiring more and more insulin to do so. In fact, evidence suggests that instead of requiring more insulin, your cells would respond better to having less glucose pushed in, at least until your liver has had a chance to use what’s already there to provide your body’s fuel.
In fact, there’s a lot more to it than this. Read more in The Type II Diabetes Spectrum, Part II