Diabesity: A Reversible Epidemic

By Mark Hyman, MD Chairman, Institute for Functional Medicine Founder and Medical Director, The UltraWellness Center Author of The Blood Sugar Solution

Posted on | By Dr. Mark Hyman | Comments ()

The Blood Sugar Solution is a plan for each of us to take back our health as a society. Our health has been hijacked from us, taken from us slowly, quietly, over the past century. Our current food, social, family, school, work, faith-based, and community environments, health-care institutions, and government policies make it hard for us to make healthy choices. We are presented with choices that foster bad habits. But together, getting and staying healthy is possible given the right information, tools, support, and collective action to take back our health.

Navigating the Terrain of Disease: Getting to the Root of the Problem

To effectively treat diabesity, we must shift our focus away from the symptoms or risk factors of the disease and begin taking a hard look at the causes. All of our attention is on treatments that lower blood sugar (diabetes drugs and insulin), lower high blood pressure (anti-hypertensive drugs), improve cholesterol (statins), and thin the blood (aspirin). But we never ever ask the most important question:

Why is your blood sugar, blood pressure, or blood cholesterol too high and why is your blood too sticky and likely to clot?

 

Put another way: What are the root causes of diabesity?

Answering that question must be the focus of our diagnosis and treatment of the disease if we are going to solve this global epidemic.

The good news is that the answer is shockingly simple.

The Real Causes of Diabesity

The entire spectrum of diabesity including all of its complications – diabetes, elevated blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol – are simply downstream symptoms that result from problems with diet, lifestyle and environmental toxins interacting with our unique genetic susceptibilities.

 

Those are the real causes of diabesity.

And the reason these dietary and lifestyle factors lead to diabesity is because they create a condition known as insulin resistance. Contrary to what most people think, type 2 diabetes is a disease of too much, not too little, insulin. Insulin is the real driver of problems with diabesity.

When your diet is full of empty calories and an abundance of quickly absorbed sugars, liquid calories,[i] and carbohydrates (like bread, pasta, rice, and potatoes), your cells slowly become resistant to the effects of insulin and need more and more to do the same job of keeping your blood sugar even. Thus you develop insulin resistance. A high insulin level is the first sign of a problem. The higher your insulin levels are, the worse your insulin resistance. Your body starts to age and deteriorate. In fact, insulin resistance is the single most important phenomenon that leads to rapid and premature aging and all its resultant diseases, including heart disease, stroke, dementia and cancer.[ii],[iii]

As your insulin levels increase, it leads to an appetite that is out of control, increasing weight gain around the belly, more inflammation and oxidative stress, and myriad downstream effects including high blood pressure; high cholesterol; low HDL, high triglycerides;[iv] weight gain around the middle; thickening of the blood; and increased risk of cancer, Alzheimer’s, and depression. These are all a result of insulin resistance and too much insulin. Elevated blood sugar is not the source of the problem.

And because insulin resistance (and diabesity) are a direct outcome of diet and lifestyle, the condition is 100% reversible in the vast majority of cases. Most people just need to eliminate the things that are sending their biology out of balance and include what’s needed to help the body rebalance itself. For most, the interventions required are extremely simple and extraordinarily effective.

Article written by Dr. Mark Hyman
Author