A new research study lays out the mechanics of Type 2 Diabetes. (1) It’s all about fat.
What is Type 2 diabetes? The Mayo Clinic offers the following:
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that affects the way your body metabolizes sugar (glucose) — an important source of fuel for your body.
With type 2 diabetes, your body either resists the effects of insulin — a hormone that regulates the movement of sugar into your cells — or doesn’t produce enough insulin to maintain normal glucose levels.
Type 2 diabetes used to be known as adult-onset diabetes, but today more children are being diagnosed with the disorder, probably due to the rise in childhood obesity. There’s no cure for type 2 diabetes, but losing weight, eating well and exercising can help manage the disease. If diet and exercise aren’t enough to manage your blood sugar well, you may also need diabetes medications or insulin therapy.(2)
The new research is called the Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial (DiRECT). The mechanism for Type 2 Diabetes is really quite simple:
- Fat cells are stored under the skin, until that storage area reaches capacity.
- Once at capacity, fat cells go to other organs in the body, especially the liver.
- Fat cells in the liver induce insulin resistance and higher blood sugar levels.
- Higher sugar levels induce higher insulin plasma levels, which encourages the production of fat cells.
- Excess fat/lipids spill from the liver into the pancreas.
- Lipids in the pancreas interfere with the production of insulin by Beta-cells in the pancreas.
“When fat cannot be safely stored under the skin, it is then stored inside the liver and overspills to the rest of the body, including the pancreas. This ‘clogs up’ the pancreas, switching off the genes [that] direct how insulin should effectively be produced, and this causes type 2 diabetes.”(1)
The diabetes remission process is just the reverse:
- Reduction of fat cells in the liver.
- Reduction of fat cells in the liver leads to reduction of fat cells in the pancreas.
- Cells that produce insulin in the pancreas return to normal function. The faster the reduction of fat cells occurs after the initial diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes, the more likely it is that normal function can be restored.
The study suggests that a weight loss of 15 kilograms (33 pounds) or more can be sufficient to place Type 2 diabetes into remission assuming not too much damage has been done in the pancreas.