We are all aware that obesity is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, and that with our ever expanding waistlines diabetes is reaching epidemic proportions. However, until recently there was no clear link between a diet high in fat and the occurrence of type 2 diabetes.
Researchers at the University of California and the Sanford Burnham Medical Centre have surprised even themselves by discovering what they believe to be the link between a high fat diet and the development of type 2 diabetes. Their research, which was published in Nature Medicine, shows that blood fat can prevent the body from realizing that its blood sugar levels are high, leading to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
What Did the Study Show?
To understand how dietary fat can lead to type 2 diabetes it helps to have some understanding of how blood sugar is monitored. Blood sugar, or the amount of glucose in the blood, is measured by the beta cells in the pancreas. This is made possible by the enzyme GnT-4a which allows glucose to pass into the beta cells so they can record the blood sugar.
If blood sugar levels are too high, the beta cells will trigger the release of insulin from the pancreas, which will reduce the blood sugar in a number of ways such as moving glucose into the body’s cells for energy or storing it as fat to be used later.
What the researchers discovered, quite unexpectedly, was that fatty acids circulating in the blood as the result of a high fat diet could interrupt this monitoring process. High levels of fatty acids in the blood could interfere with the proteins necessary for the synthesis of the enzyme GnT-4a.
Without GnT4-a, glucose is unable to pass into the beta cells of the pancreas to be measured, and the body in unaware when blood sugar levels become too high. Although the body is producing adequate levels of insulin, it is not used to bring down blood sugar levels because excess fatty acids are preventing beta cells from recording high blood sugar levels. This leads to a condition known as insulin resistance, and ultimately to type 2 diabetes.
While most of the research focused on mice, who were given diets with a varied fat content, the same results were seen in samples of human pancreatic cells that were included in the research.
Dr Jamey Marth, the lead researcher in the study, admitted to being surprised by the results. “The observation that beta cell malfunction significantly contributes to multiple disease signs, including insulin resistance, was unexpected. The identification of the molecular players in this pathway to diabetes suggests new therapeutic targets and approaches towards developing an effective preventative or perhaps curative treatment.”
While there is some suggestion that manipulating levels of GnT-4a could provide a preventative treatment to stop the onset of type 2 diabetes, the more sensible approach would surely be to use the study to outline the importance of a diet that is lnot excessively high in fat in the fight against obesity and diabetes.
Reducing the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
As well as a diet that is excessively high in fat, there are various other risk factors for type 2 diabetes that we can control to reduce the chances of developing the disease. They include:
- Obesity is a key risk factor for diabetes so losing weight can be a great place to start
- Fat around the middle can be a risk factor for diabetes so keeping your waist size under 31.5 inches for women and 37 inches for men is essential
- Inactivity is a risk factor for diabetes so try to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week
- Smoking is a risk factor for diabetes so quitting now could save you from developing diabetes in the future
- High blood pressure and cholesterol levels are risk factors for diabetes, so have these monitored so you can develop strategies to keep them under control
- Alcohol consumption is a risk factor for diabetes so make sure you only drink alcohol in moderation
Using the natural supplement Sugar Balance helps ensure good regulation of blood sugar levels, reducing your risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.