The key to reversing diabetes is losing weight from the pancreas

By naturopath Margaret Jasinska

Researchers have found that type 2 diabetes can be caused by fat accumulation in the pancreas, even in people who don’t appear overweight. Fatty pancreas is a common diagnosis that can also happen in people who don’t have diabetes. Losing less than one gram of that fat can be enough to reverse the disease.

Type 2 diabetes affects 9 percent of the world’s population and is being diagnosed in increasingly younger people. It was once called adult onset diabetes but that name is no longer relevant because these days we commonly see it in children.

People with type 2 diabetes have too much glucose in their blood. This is dangerous because glucose is sticky and it can damage nearly any part of the body if present in excess. Therefore, diabetes can lead to some very devastating health consequences, such as blindness, kidney failure, erectile dysfunction, heart attacks and strokes. People with type 1 diabetes don’t produce enough insulin, therefore must inject it. In contrast, people with type 2 diabetes usually produce plenty of insulin; sometimes too much of it. The insulin just doesn’t work properly anymore.

A team of researchers from Newcastle University in the UK has recently found that fat accumulation in the pancreas can cause type 2 diabetes, and losing that fat can reverse the disease. According to Professor Taylor of Newcastle University, “For people with Type 2 diabetes, losing weight allows them to drain excess fat out of the pancreas and allows function to return to normal”. In this particular study, weight loss was achieved through bariatric surgery, but any weight loss method could produce the same result.

The problem is, losing weight is difficult, and it’s twice as hard if you have type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance. This is because the insulin resistance that occurs in these conditions inhibits the action of fat burning hormones and significantly increases appetite and carbohydrate cravings. Additionally, type 2 diabetes usually causes a fatty liver. When the liver is fatty, it can’t burn fat properly and metabolism slows down.

If you have type 2 diabetes and want to lose weight, here are my recommendations:

1. Reduce the sugar, carbohydrate and alcohol in your diet

These foods are what create a fatty liver in the first place.  Most people with a fatty liver got one because they ate more carbohydrate than their liver could process.  Carbohydrate rich foods include sugar, flour, bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, breakfast cereals and grains.  The liver is very proficient at converting these foods into fat.

2. Avoid industrial seed oils

The other food that promotes the formation of a fatty liver is omega 6 rich vegetable oil. Fried foods and packaged foods like chips, crackers and biscuits are usually full of the wrong fats. A lot of foods marketed as being healthy contain sunflower oil. There is nothing healthy about it. The fragile omega 6 fats become damaged, oxidised and contain cancer-causing aldehydes which you can read about here.

3. Base your diet on vegetables, protein and natural fats

These foods will keep you feeling full and will keep your blood sugar level stable throughout the day.  This is very important in order to prevent hypoglycaemia, sugar cravings, foggy head and fatigue. Many people trying to lose weight actually don’t eat enough protein and fat.  They are in such a rush to lose weight and want to reach their goal tomorrow, that they eat too little food.  This is dangerous territory because you will be at far greater risk of bingeing on all the wrong foods once you get tired and hungry enough. When eating protein rich foods like fish, poultry or red meat, please eat a palm and a half sized portion. Whey protein powder is an excellent source of protein that’s highly satiating. It will help to keep you full for many hours and reduces the risk of sugar cravings. Please include good fats in your diet like olive oil, avocados, nuts, seeds and oily fish such as salmon, as well as traditional animal fats.  People who don’t eat enough protein and fat usually crave sugar and carbohydrate. For more information see the book Diabetes Type 2: You Can Reverse it.

4. Try to get some movement each day

Exercise is wonderful for your health, but some of our patients are dealing with chronic pain, poor mobility, significant fatigue or sleep problems. That can make exercising a real challenge. You don’t have to spend an hour at the gym. Doing some movement is better than doing none at all. A 10 minute stroll around the block is good. If your knees or hips are a problem, sitting in a chair and lifting hand weights is great. Perhaps you could lie on the floor and do some Pilates exercises for your abdominals and legs. There are many free videos on Youtube, or you could hire a personal trainer to help you. When you exercise, your muscles suck glucose out of your bloodstream for their own metabolism. That’s great for type 2 diabetics, people with insulin resistance and anyone wanting to lose weight.

Weight loss takes more time and commitment for those with type 2 diabetes, but with the right technique it is definitely achievable.


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