By Eduardo Castro, MD
Type 2 diabetes is an epidemic. It used to be called Adult Onset Diabetes, but so many children now have this form of diabetes that it made no sense to call it an adult illness.
Briefly, diabetics have high levels of glucose in their blood. Type I diabetics do not produce insulin while Type 2 diabetics’ tissues become resistant to insulin. Insulin is the hormone produced in the pancreas that allows glucose to enter the cells from the bloodstream. In Type 1 there is no insulin and in Type 2 there is plenty of insulin but it is not working well enough.
Type 2 diabetics are at a considerably increased risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, blindness, kidney failure, and Alzheimer’s disease. Type 2 diabetics fill intensive care unit beds and get most of the bypass surgeries, kidney transplants, and amputations that are done each year.
One would think that the medical establishment would give considerable thought to treating this major killer and mammoth drain of health care dollars. But that does not appear to be the case.
Conventional medicine treats Type 2 diabetes the same way they treat Type 1: a disease of elevated glucose levels. That is only half of the picture. Indeed, elevated glucose levels must be controlled or it damages tissues and leads to death. But Type 2 diabetes is also a disease of elevated insulin levels. It is the elevated levels of insulin that cause hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, obesity, and excessive inflammation that lead to the above mentioned diseases.
Insulin resistance is caused by a diet that is too high in sugars and in carbohydrates. It can occur on a continuum anywhere from mild to severe, and it is usually progressive. The reason that insulin resistance worsens over time is that one’s pancreas will keep secreting insulin if glucose levels are elevated. As will be discussed in Part II, the greater the insulin level, the more the body becomes resistant to its effects. But that means that more and more insulin must be produced to bring glucose levels down.
A person is diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes when the maximum amount of insulin production does not lower blood glucose sufficiently.
Anyone with insulin resistance has elevated insulin levels, not just Type 2 diabetics. Pre-diabetics do, and even pre-prediabetics as well.
Problems from Elevated Levels of Insulin
In addition to sending glucose into cells for energy production, insulin also directs the body to perform several other tasks:
- Make fat – especially triglycerides, but cholesterol production also increases
- Store Fat – around organs, called visceral fat (the worst fat)
- Store salt – elevates blood pressure
- Increase inflammatory activity – excessive inflammation is the hallmark of coronary/cerebrovascular/peripheral vascular artery disease, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, autism, autoimmune disease, severe allergies, and it promotes cancer and asthma; excessive inflammation drives the chronic and degenerative disease of our age
The above problems are then treated with antihypertensives, statin drugs, stents, coronary bypass surgery, gastric bypass surgery, antiinflammatory drugs, bronchodilators, Viagra-type drugs, kidney dialysis, immunosuppressive drugs, amputations, and, of course, antidepressants.
The Biggest and Most Costly Error in Medicine in the 21st Century
As stated, conventional medicine treats Type 2 diabetes as a disease of elevated glucose levels. How are those folks treated? There are literally dozens of medications that lower blood glucose, but almost every one of the drugs do so by forcing a person’s pancreas to secrete even more insulin than it is able to do on its own, i.e., even higher insulin levels.
It is obvious that the resulting higher levels of insulin will lead to even more of the above insulin-driven processes, but that is not close to being the extent of the senselessness of the approach. The supra-physiologic levels of insulin also cause further havoc.
- Pancreatic cells that produce insulin are damaged
- The receptors on cell walls that read insulin begin to drop out
For many patients these lead to the need for injecting insulin, and because of the extreme degree of insulin resistance, the doses are not small.
The most unconscionable thing about the conventional approach to treating diabetes, however, is that Type 2 diabetes is a curable illness. As will be discussed in Part II, the body is not broken but simply attempting to respond to abnormal levels of insulin. The proper diet, exercise, one of the available diabetic drugs, specific nutrients, and time (it takes months to shift the vicious cycle of insulin resistance to a favorable cycle) lead to decreased insulin resistance. With persistence, the body’s sensitivity to insulin can improve to the point that not only is there no diabetes, but there is no insulin resistance.
There are some who have experienced so much pancreatic damage that they can only improve their condition, not cure, but they are in the distinct minority.
Blunder . . . or Ignoring the Obvious?
There is not a physician in the trenches treating Type 2 diabetes that can be held in any way accountable. The tools they are provided with in their training have the appearance of being the best that science has to offer: drugs that reduce symptoms. They are not taught how to promote health so it is not in their thinking.
On the other hand, how many corporate leaders, hospital CEOs, and junk food producers would rejoice in solving the Type 2 diabetes epidemic?
About Dr. Castro
Eduardo Castro, M.D. is the owner and Medical Director for the Mount Rogers Clinic in Troutdale, VA where he has worked for twenty years. Dr. Castro is the co-author of two books on neurofeedback with Robert Hill, PhD, Getting Rid of Ritalin and Healing Young Brains. He has just released his new book When Diets Work: Overcoming Fat Loss Resistance. For more information please visit: www.whendietswork.com