Diabetes and Obesity

by Dr. Julian Whitaker
Filed Under: Diabetes, Blood Sugar
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

As you may know, type 2 diabetes is caused by insulin resistance.

For people living with diabetes, the beta cells in the pancreas make plenty of insulin—the hormone that moves glucose from the blood into the cells—but the cells are unresponsive to insulin’s actions. This leads to a rise in blood sugar. The pancreas responds by churning out more insulin, and the net result is elevated levels of both glucose and insulin.

Obesity throws fuel on the fire. Adipose tissue (fat), especially in the abdominal area, releases fatty acids that impair beta-cell function and insulin sensitivity. It also produces immune cells that lead to chronic, low-grade inflammation. Inflammation, in turn, increases insulin resistance and risk of diabetes.

Fat cells also secrete hormones—so many, in fact, that some experts actually refer to adipose tissue as an endocrine organ. One of these hormones is leptin.

Although leptin is best known for its governing effects on appetite and energy metabolism, researchers from Boston’s Joslin Diabetes Center have discovered that it also has direct effects on insulin secretion and beta-cell growth.

At the same time, the high levels of insulin (a common characteristic of type 2 diabetes) promote weight gain. That’s because insulin is the body’s primary fat-storage hormone—it ushers fat as well as glucose into the cells. So the higher your insulin level, the greater your potential to gain weight.

In short, preventing—and reversing—type 2 diabetes for many is as easy as achieving or maintaining your ideal weight.  

In a future post, I’ll introduce you to my favorite supplements for diabetes that you can use to help keep this condition under control. 

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