About 1 in 10 Americans have diabetes. About 1 in 5 Americans that have it don’t even know they have it. And nearly half (41%) of Americans are clinically obese.
This is an EPIDEMIC that can be avoided.
The correlation between type 2 diabetes and obesity is strong, but don’t think that if you’re “skinny” or have type 1 diabetes you’re in the clear either. Although treatments may vary, the symptoms are similar and REAL.
What are the symptoms of diabesity?
Here are some major red flags:
High blood pressure
High blood sugar
If you think these symptoms apply to you, I always suggest getting tested! Make sure to test for:
You can order these labs through your primary care doctor. But note that some doctors are simply quick to prescribe pharmaceuticals once you get your results. If this is the case, you may want to try a functional medicine doctor or get outside lab testing done. Here are some you can try:
Let’s breakdown the components of diabetes and how they play a role.
BLOOD SUGAR - Blood glucose is either useful or toxic. It’s useful when there’s just enough to give us energy, but it can become toxic when there’s too much of it.
INSULIN - Insulin is secreted by the pancreas whenever you consume carbohydrates, protein, or both macronutrients. That means whether you’re having a banana or a candy bar, your pancreas is releasing insulin.
It’s like the key that allows energy into the cell.
INSULIN RESISTANCE - When there is repeatedly an excess of glucose in the blood stream, there’s a lot of energy trying to get into the cell! Once the cell is “full,” the insulin “key” will no longer let anymore energy into the cell and now the excess glucose (and amino acids) remain in the blood stream. We want glucose, but we need the right amount, not too much or too little.
GLUT4 - This is an insulin-regulated glucose transporter that allows glucose uptake into fat and muscle cells. These receptors are found in muscle tissue, fat tissue, and cardiac tissue. This is why excess blood sugar can affect your heart!
TYPE 2 DIABETES - Too much glucose in the blood stream - so much so that your body no longer responds to insulin. This increases insulin production significantly, which is the main cause of diabesity.
TYPE 1 DIABETES - Too little insulin being produced in the pancreas to lower blood sugar. Although this is not the main cause of diabesity, those with type 1 diabetes should still be mindful of how the diabesity epidemic affects them!
Where Diabetes and Obesity Collide
As mentioned previously, high blood sugar is extremely toxic. When we consume excess sugar, it gets stored in fat cells as a safety mechanism to protect the body from glucose poisoning.
Say, for example, you enjoy a pancake. You digest it and those carbohydrates convert to blood sugar for energy. Your cells get filled, including your fat cells and muscle cells.
But because of the high carbohydrate content of pancakes, ALL of these cells get filled. So what happens now?
—> The sugar in your blood stream now goes to your liver. It now fills up your liver glycogen (which can be used for energy when there are no carbohydrates).
—> Once that is filled your body still wants to protect you and does not want that sugar in the blood stream. This excess blood sugar can be used to create fatty acids, aka cholesterol molecules (known as VERY LDL, which is very inflammatory and one of the symptoms mentioned earlier).
—> It can also be used to create fat in the liver, which can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
—> Lastly, the excess glucose is used to increase the size of fat cells or to create NEW fat cells. This can be in the form of visceral fat (abdominal fat), which functions like another organ, even producing its own hormones, leading to estrogen dominance in both men and women. Or it can be in the form of subcutaneous fat, which is located beneath the skin.
—> These fat cells can eventually become unstable and rupture, causing further inflammation. When untreated, this cycle continues and manifests itself into type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome - DIABESITY.
It Doesn’t Have To End Here
If you think this may be you, your story doesn’t have to end here. There are practical steps you can take to end this vicious cycle.
The following articles will discuss what you can do and will address some common blood sugar myths!