03 November 2012

Diabetes Related to Heart Disease

Metabolic syndrome (insulin resistance): is a combination of physiological disorders occurring together in obese, diabetic and heart disease patients.

If the symptoms are common in these diseases:
  • high insulin levels
  • insulin resistance
  • high blood sugar
  • high triglycerides
  • low HDL (good cholesterol)
  • high small dense LDL (bad cholesterol)

then, it seems reasonable that these conditions share a common cause. Therefore, whatever dietary factors that lead to Type 2 diabetes, will also predispose the body to heart disease.

In 1962, Margaret Albrink (Yale University) reported that diabetic patients' triglyceride levels increased over a quarter-century, proportionally with the amount of carbohydrates in their diet. The carbohydrate content doubled over the same period of time, and the fat content of their diet decreased. Carbohydrates - not fat - increased the risk of heart disease. Today, high triglyceride levels are associated with increased risk of heart disease.

Albrink also noticed that triglyceride levels have a positive correlation with the amount of body fat. In other words, the more body fat one carries, the higher the triglyceride levels.

In 1963, Gerald Reaven (Stanford University) made the observation, that heart-attack survivors had invariably both high-triglycerides and glucose intolerance. This observation led him to suspect insulin resistance (insulin is needed to metabolize glucose) to be the cause of diabetes and heart disease. Individuals on a high-carbohydrate diet have high triglyceride levels and are insulin resistant. Triglyceride levels drop as soon as carbohydrates are replaced with fat in the diet.
"[...] Triglyceride levels, insulin resistance and insulin levels moved up and down in concert even in healthy individuals: the more insulin secreted in response to carbohydrates, the greater the apparent insulin resistance and the higher the triglycerides."
                                                                                        - Gary Taubes
The difference between healthy individuals, insulin resistant and diabetic patients is only the degree of exacerbation of these symptoms. We are all on this curve of diabetic and heart disease symptoms. The difference is only in the gravity of these conditions.

In a few words:
Dietary carbohydrates -> elevated blood sugar -> elevated insulin levels -> leading to insulin resistance -> increased risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Moreover, diabetes has also been associated with a host of other conditions, known as vascular complications:
  • stroke
  • vascular dementia
  • kidney disease
  • blindness
  • nerve damage in the extremities
  • atheromatous disease (in the legs)
"[...] if the risk of contracting any chronic disease or condition increases with metabolic syndrome and Type 2 diabetes, then it's a reasonable hypothesis that insulin and blood sugar do play a pathological role, then it's a reasonable hypothesis that the same conditions can be caused or exacerbated in healthy individuals by the consumption of refined and easily digestible carbohydrates and sugar."
                                                                                 - Gary Taubes

1 comment:

  1. On the money, as usual! I've just listened to a few podcasts about this subject and carbs in the diet seem to be our biggest problem but health authorities continue to push grains. Crazy.