Did you know that traditional Chinese medicine is one of the oldest medical systems in the world, and the first to study endocrinology as early as 200 BC? Resistance to insulin, a hormone that regulates our blood sugar levels, is the reason why people with diabetes see endocrinologists who specialize in hormone related disorders.
Over 85% of people diagnosed with diabetes have type 2 diabetes, which is a preventable lifestyle disease strongly associated with weight gain and obesity. Chinese medicine upholds that a healthy diet which prevents disease is better than the best medicine, so it makes sense to understand the good and bad fats in our diet.
Our society has become morbidly afraid of fat, weʼre guilty of eating it and worst of all, hating ourselves when we gain it. Next time you visit the supermarket, observe how many different kinds of foods are now sold with low fat, reduced fat, fat free, diet, light, low cholesterol and cholesterol free labels, not to mention the saturated and unsaturated fats, MUFA, LDL, HDL, omega-3 and omega-6. What a mouthful!
Digesting all of this starts with insulin. When we eat foods high in sugar and carbohydrates like white flour, white bread, potato, pasta and pastries, it triggers our pancreas to release lots of insulin into the bloodstream. Insulin is the hormone that tells our body to remove excess sugar from the blood by storing it into our fat cells. Whatʼs more, the fat stays in our cells as long as insulin is present. This is why many people gain weight and have great difficulty losing it on a high carbohydrate, high insulin diet. One explanation is that our ancestors evolved eating proteins and fats, not our modern carbohydrate rich diets that encourage the storage of fat. So when our body tries to adapt by resisting the effect of insulin, type 2 diabetes is the result.
We also need to dispel the widely-held assumption that eating saturated fats which come from animal foods will make us fat. Nor will cholesterol clog your arteries and cause heart disease. All the reasons why we have come to fear fats and cholesterol are founded upon this “lipid hypothesis”. It is a convenient theory based on weak evidence and promoted by the profits of the processed food and drug companies. However, there are independent researchers who have scrutinized the science on fats and disagree that animal fats, butter and cholesterol cause anything but good health. Furthermore, many people have successfully lost weight and reversed their diabetes on a low carbohydrate, high fat diet.
We neednʼt be afraid of naturally nutritious saturated fats like butter, olive and coconut oil, full-fat dairy, cheese and cream. The unhealthy and unnatural fats to avoid are processed vegetable oils like margarine, trans-fats and deep fried fatty foods, which are often served with sugar and carbohydrates.
Is it a surprise then that many diseases like diabetes could be made better or worse by our diet? At the holistic heart of Chinese medicine is the need to diagnose and treat the cause of the symptoms. We can all prevent what we canʼt cure with a healthy lifestyle and balanced diet of naturally nutritious foods and fats.
- Accurso A, Bernstein RK, Dahlqvist A, Draznin B, Feinman RD, Fine EJ, Gleed A, Jacobs DB, Larson G, Lustig RH, et al.: Dietary carbohydrate restriction in type 2 diabetes mellitus and metabolic syndrome: time for a critical appraisal. Nutr Metab 2008, 5:9.http://www.nutritionandmetabolism.com/content/5/1/9
- Mente A, Koning L, Shannon HS, Anand SS. A systematic review of the evidence supporting a causal link between dietary factors and coronary heart disease. Arch Intern Med 2009;169(7):659-669.http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1108492
- Ravnskov U: High cholesterol may protect against infections and atherosclerosis. Q J Med 2003; 96: 927-934.http://qjmed.oxfordjournals.org/content/96/12/927.full
Author & Resource:
Jinnan Cai from Clinical Nature