Diabetes: Trans Fats or Olive Oil?

Diabetes type-2 is not caused by overweight and olive oil can help prevent and cure diabetes. It is as simple as that.

When we say diabetes, we think of high blood sugar level. When we say overweight, we think of too many calories and obesity. When we refer to olive oil, we think of a type of oil, which is finally a fat. All this becomes confusing. What has to do the blood sugar level with obesity and how can a fat fix the problem of diabetes?

To make it clear: overweight is considered one of the main causes of diabetes type-2 (90% of the world cases of diabetes). From the other side, insulin is sensitive to the type of dietary fat intake. The meaning here is that it does not matter most how much glucose comes to our body, but how well the insulin (a hormone) can transfer this to our muscles, fat and liver cells to use it as fuel. The cause of diabetes type-2 is finally the cause that produces insulin resistance. The diabetics are advised to eat healthy diet, control the quality and quantity of carbohydrates and stop eating fried food, fast food, margarine, shortening, chips, cookies etc. Plus, diabetics must increase physical activity. All this is supposed to help losing weight and control the blood sugar level. But, what really happens is the following: the diabetics start to eat healthy, clean the body from toxins and be active. Their insulin starts working properly. Obviously they lose kilos but if they finally get better this is mainly because they improved their diet. The food industry is a dark forest with huge budget. It is easier and costless to blame overweight instead of the quality of the food.

Now let’s take it step by step.

About diabetes

Today more than 350 million people in the world have diabetes and around 4.6 million deaths occur every year. Every seven seconds somebody dies of it. According to World Health Organization cases of diabetes will increase by two thirds until 2030. 50% of people with diabetes die of cardiovascular disease (heart disease or stroke).

Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough or at all insulin (type-1 diabetes that requires daily administration of insulin) or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces (type-2 diabetes). Sometimes, also in the type 2 case, the body does not produce enough insulin. Symptoms include excessive excretion of urine (polyuria), thirst (polydipsia), constant hunger, weight loss, vision changes and fatigue. Type-2 diabetes (90% of people with diabetes worldwide) has similar symptoms but they are not so marked so many people might not even know they have it. Studies show that over time, diabetes can result sometimes in heart disease, stroke, vision loss, kidney failure, foot amputation or death. Risk factors for type-2 diabetes can be non-modifiable such as family history, age and ethnicity and modifiable (obesity, central adiposity and sedentary lifestyle).

What Causes Diabetes?

Salmeron et al in 2001 from Harvard University reported that the total fat intakes are not associated with risk of type-2 diabetes and they estimated that replacing 2% of energy from trans-fatty acids with polyunsaturated fat would lead to a 40% lower risk. They followed 84204 women aged 34-59 and during 14 years of follow-up, 2507 incident cases of type 2 diabetes were documented. They concluded that trans-fatty acids increase and polyunsaturated fatty acids reduce risk of diabetes type-2. Substituting non hydrogenated polyunsaturated fatty acids for trans-fatty acids would likely reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes substantially.

Immediately as a response, M Tom Clandinin and Michaelan S Wilke in 2001 sustained: “The hypothesis proposed by Salmerón et al is novel with important implications. If the authors’ conclusion that a decrease in trans-fatty acid consumption will substantially reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes is correct, the implications for the food supply are serious. For example, the publicity that will result from these conclusions and the identification of foods in the diet that provide trans fatty acids will affect consumer choices and manufacturing practices. Therefore, it is important to assess the confidence that can presently be vested in the conclusions of Salmerón et al.” What they did was to sustain that the industry of trans-fats developed and the trans-fats do not have the same risk as 20 years ago.

But Salmeron et al were not the first ones to report the relation between hydrogenated fat and diabetes. Barnard et al 1990, Kuller (1993) at the University of Pittsburg, Simopolous (1994), Mann (1994) and others predicted the development of insulin resistance from dietary intake of trans-fatty acids.

In 2009 Riserus et al in their research “Dietary fats and prevention of type-2 diabetes” sustained that “dietary fat is of particular interest because fatty acids influence glucose metabolism by altering cell membrane function, enzyme activity, insulin signalling and gene expression”. They concluded that replacing saturated fats and trans-fats with unsaturated fats (monounsaturated or polyunsaturated) has beneficial effects on insulin sensitivity and is likely to reduce the risk of diabetes type-2.

In 2010, another research by Penny M. Kris-Etherton “Trans-fats and coronary heart disease” shows that trans-fats have adverse detrimental consequences on our health and increase substantially the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

And the list continues…

The point is that diabetes can be the result of the food we eat without knowing it. What makes us overweight is too many calories and if these calories come from good healthy foods, obesity will not kill us and will not cause diabetes neither. But if our diet is full of hydrogenated fats then we are likely to get it. There is no good evidence that a high-fat diet causes diabetes and there is no good evidence that a high-fat diet causes obesity.

And now think of something: on every packet of cigarettes is written that smoking kills etc. Why don’t they write this on most of the foods for sale in supermarkets: “Trans-fats might kill you”?

As mentioned before, the food industry is a dark forest with huge budget.

But the good thing is that we still have a choice. Nobody obliges us to buy these toxins.

Olive oil is a good healthy option. It is just fine for diabetics and for all of us. It has a high content of monounsaturated fats that will not harm the production of insulin but by contrary, will allow our cells breathe.

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