By Dr. Mercola
In 2012, over 90 million people had diabetes or pre-diabetes. One out of every 2 people with diabetes don’t know they have the condition. Lifestyle choices are the best strategies to controlling your blood sugar, reducing your risk of diabetes and preventing secondary health problems from the condition.
Over the past years, both Great Britain and the U.S. have experienced a rapid increase in the number of people suffering from pre-diabetes and diabetes. In 2003, 11.6 percent of people in Great Britain were diagnosed with pre-diabetes. That number had tripled by 2011, reaching over 35 percent.
These numbers demonstrate the rise in people suffering from diabetes originate outside a genetic cause. Historically, the rise in diabetes was prompted by a flawed nutritional and exercise program initiated by the now-refuted Seven Countries Study.
The study, published in the 1950s by economist Ancel Keys, Ph.D. sparked an increase in the quantity of carbohydrates recommended in your diet and a severe reduction in healthy fats. This imbalance affects your cellular resistance to the hormones insulin, leptin and ghrelin.
This cellular resistance is the real foundation to problems with diabetes and not the symptom of high blood sugar.
Insulin, Leptin and Ghrelin — Oh My!
Your body is a complex combination of chemicals, enzymes and hormones. While it might be tempting to believe that one hormone controls an entire health condition, the reality is far more intricate.
The same is true of diabetes. You may have learned that diabetes is a function of too much sugar in your blood, but it’s actually a function of insulin resistance at your cell level.
Insulin is a hormone secreted by your pancreas responsible for ushering blood sugar across cell membranes for use as fuel inside your cells. When your cells become resistant to insulin, glucose (sugar) stays in your blood, raising your blood sugar levels.
Another function of rising blood sugar is the malfunction of leptin signaling. Leptin is a hormone produced by your fat cells. The function of leptin is to tell your brain you have enough fat stored, have eaten enough and to burn calories at a normal rate.
Leptin doesn’t function only with your metabolism and fat stores. It is also involved in your immune system, fertility and regulating how much energy you burn.
The third hormone most intimately involved with diabetes is ghrelin. This hormone is secreted by your stomach lining and is your “go” hormone, or the hormone telling your brain that you’re hungry. Ghrelin is affected by growth hormone in your body, and therefore works differently in men and women.
These are the three main players, in a cast of others, playing a role in the development of diabetes. With a malfunction of leptin or ghrelin signaling, you may eat too much food for your activity level and rate of your metabolism, resulting in weight gain and obesity.
With obesity often comes a resistance at your cell level to insulin, resulting in high blood sugar and a diagnosis of diabetes.