Disarming Type II DiabetesJul 05, 2012 06:35PM ● By Dr. Tracie Leonhardt
Type II Diabetes is not a single disease state as it follows a continuum from normal insulin sensitivity to insulin resistance and then finally diabetes. Not everyone with insulin resistance will become diabetic. Type II Diabetes is a condition where the body becomes resistant to the insulin it produces. This usually occurs over a period of 5-15 years with a combination of a genetic predisposition, poor eating habits, lack of exercise, and environmental factors. There are so many exposures in our current environment working against us that it is not surprising obesity and diabetes rates are skyrocketing. We are exposed to pesticides, pollutants, and foods that are genetically modified, chemical laden, and highly processed with significantly larger amounts of sugar and simple carbohydrates. Consider that our food supply contains about 75% less nutrition than it did 30 to 40 years ago. That means you now need to eat four apples to get the same nutrition of one apple 40 years ago.
In order to understand the progression of diabetes, we need to understand the terminology. Insulin sensitivity (IS) is defined as the condition wherein the cells of your body respond appropriately to insulin; this is the normal condition. Insulin resistance (IR) is defined as the condition wherein the cells of your body do not respond appropriately to insulin due to direct insulin resistance at the cellular level or through the countering action of insulin by the counter-regulatory hormones, hormone drugs, or other medications that raise blood sugar. IR is "damaged" metabolism but not necessarily Type II Diabetes. Type II Diabetes is an insulin resistant condition with an additional component of relative hypoinsulinemia (not enough insulin). This is due to the fact that even though the body produces a lot of insulin, it no longer produces enough to overcome the higher blood sugar. So, consider diabetes a battle between insulin and the counter hormones that raise blood sugar… and insulin is losing.
What do we mean by disarming diabetes? Most traditional treatment methods for Type II Diabetes consist of medications to control blood sugar. This can be done with several different categories of prescription medications, most of which have the primary method of action to increase insulin production. Diabetes is like a ticking time bomb; if you don’t disarm it, it will eventually blow up and cause significant damage. The real goal of treating diabetes should be to disarm it and restore the normal function of the body before the point of no return. This utilizes a combination of blood sugar control through a low glycemic diet and lifestyle, nutritional optimization (so the body has everything necessary to process the glucose), and treatment of the insulin resistance since it is the underlying condition, for hopefully controlled or complete reversal of the diabetes. In the disarming process, we need to re-sensitize and restore the insulin receptors back to working order as soon as possible. Disarming should be started the moment there are signs of insulin resistance, such as afternoon fatigue, not feeling full after eating, signs of low blood sugar after meals, and middle weight gain.
Our bodies need certain macronutrients and micronutrients in order to function and make energy. Macronutrients consist of protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Micronutrients are our vitamins and minerals. Carbohydrates are the easiest for the body to turn into sugar for a rapid energy source. The problem is that our blood only carries approximately one teaspoon of sugar at any given time – this is a normal blood sugar level. Therefore, if we consume one soda, which is the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of sugar, what happens to the other nine teaspoons? The average 140 pound person will utilize about nine grams of glucose per hour, which is equivalent to about two teaspoons or two sugar packets.
Digestion of carbohydrates begins in the mouth, down to the stomach and ends in the small intestine. Glucose is absorbed into the portal vein (a blood bridge that connects the small intestine to the liver) and delivered directly to the liver where it is processed and stored as glycogen, oxidized for energy, or converted to fat which can either remain in the liver or be transported to other tissues. Think of the liver as the processing plant and the insulin as the supervisor to the plant that tells it which of these methods to use. The glucose not processed in the liver passes through to the blood stream. In Type II Diabetes this process is damaged and most of the glucose is stored as fat or passed into the blood stream.
The importance of knowing the physiology and the working of this system is that you can find stages of disease much earlier and prevent diabetes altogether. There are some subtle signs in blood work and specialty markers that can be evaluated to find where in this process a patient falls. Once diabetes has occurred, increasing insulin production without addressing the body’s resistance to insulin will only treat the condition, not cure.
To learn more, attend Dr. Tracie Leonhardt’s free seminar on Type II Diabetes, Thursday, July 26, 6:30pm, at Crown Point Center, 13191 Starkey Road, Suite 1, Largo. Call Peaks of Health Metabolic Medical Center, 727-826-0838 for reservations as space is limited.