The Real Cause of Type 2 Diabetes
In my prior blog, Science Thrives on Challenges and Advances with Each New Idea, I wrote about how insulin resistance is not a logical explanation as the cause of diabetes. It was proposed as the cause of diabetes in 1931 and since then, very little has been actually proven about it.
I know you probably have not taken biology class in years if not decades, but I have to ask you to listen to a little bit of science about your body to understand why insulin resistance cannot be the cause of diabetes.
The theory of insulin resistance claims that only 3 types of cells become resistant to insulin when all other cells are not. This seems highly illogical, even from a biological point of view. Insulin is a hormone that tells cells to accept glucose, which they need to burn for energy. Of all cells that interact with insulin similarly, why would only 3 types of them become resistant to it? The theory says:
- Muscle cells do not let glucose in even when enough insulin is outside muscle cells.
- Fat cells are resistant to the presence of insulin and therefore release fatty acids from inside them when they should not be doing so.
- The liver continues to release glucose into the blood even though the presence of insulin should normally inhibit that process.
The fact is, there are very good reasons that these 3 events happen in muscle, fat, and liver cells, but it is not because of insulin resistance. You should ask, if all other cells in the body are not resistant to insulin, how are they escaping the same fate?
My explanation looks at the cause of these events from the opposite view – a 180 degree turn. Let me show you what I uncovered by thinking through this biology using a different form of reasoning. In this blog, let me walk you through the beginning steps of my thought process:
- Diabetes is diagnosed when you have high blood sugar (glucose) for long periods of time.
- Why is there too much glucose in your blood? Maybe the answer is that your muscle cells do not need the glucose because they are burning something else, leaving glucose in your bloodstream.
- Medical science knows that muscle cells are like hybrid cars. They can use glucose or fatty acids as fuel to create the energy they need for their internal functions. They need insulin to let glucose in, but they do not need insulin to let fatty acids in. Muscle cell walls are made up of fatty acids, so other types of fatty acids can just sneak right in. In fact, this is a normal metabolic process. Your muscles burn fatty acids that are released from your fat cells if you have not eaten for a long time, or if you exercise heavily and run out of the temporary store of glucose that your liver releases.
- The next question is: Why would muscles “switch” to burning fatty acids when there is plenty of glucose and enough insulin around? Is it not possible that your muscles are programmed to burn fatty acids that enter freely than glucose for which they have to work for? If this is true, the presence of insulin has nothing to do with the glucose remaining outside the cells, and there is no insulin resistance in muscle cells.
In this blog posting, let me leave you to ponder the question above: Why might your muscle cells, which are ordinarily the biggest user of glucose in your body—switch to burning fatty acids on a continual basis rather than glucose?
The answer involves understanding more science about the biology of liver, fat, and muscle cells, but if you think about this puzzle, you might be able to get an inkling into it on your own. Here’s a hint until my next blog posting: if your fat cells store triglycerides that are made from excess glucose in your body, can your body store an unlimited amount of triglycerides?
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