Recent studies show that the high blood sugar of diabetes is caused by excess fat in:
• the liver (JAMA, February 14, 2017),
• the muscles (J Cardiovascular Pharmacology and Therapeutics, April 2017) and
• the pancreas ((Diabetes Care, December 2015). Diabetes can be treated and often cured with:
• exercise that removes fat from muscles (Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, March 13, 2017;27(5)) and
• diets that remove fat from the liver and other organs (Diabetologia, 2011 Oct; 54(10): 2506–2514).
The Studies A study from Finland shows that high-intensity interval training rapidly lowers blood sugar levels and increases a Type II diabetic's cell response to insulin (Scan J Med & Sci in Sprts, March 13, 2017;27(5)). Both healthy and diabetic patients, 40-50 years old, performed either continuous exercise or 4-6 repetitions of 30 seconds of all-out cycling with four- minute recoveries between each interval, three times a week for two weeks. At the end of just six workouts in two weeks, the thigh muscles of diabetics were able to remove the same amount of sugar from the bloodstream as the thigh muscles of non-diabetics. This means that the muscles of diabetics were able to clear sugar from the bloodstream in a normal manner.
In another study, researchers at the Mayo Clinic showed that both weightlifting and cycling reversed some of the effects of aging on muscles (Cell Metabolism, March 2017;25(3):581–592). Both types of exercise increased:
• fitness level, and
• insulin-stimulated glucose uptake in both leg and arm muscles to lower high blood sugar levels.
The cycling groups in the Mayo Clinic study either pedaled at a moderate pace for 30 minutes or did interval training consisting of pedaling intensely for four minutes, resting for three minutes and then repeating each interval three more times. Just three interval workouts a week for 12 weeks reversed some of the effects of aging on muscles. The bicycle-interval riders had the greatest gains in the number and function of their muscle mitochondria, a marker of the ability to turn food into energy. The mitochondria in muscles of the interval-exercising people over 65 were able to convert food to energy as efficiently as those in people under 30 years of age.
The weightlifting groups of the Mayo Clinic study either lifted heavy weights intensely or light weights slowly. Those who lifted weights more intensely had greater gains in muscle size and strength. However, those who did bicycle interval training had the greatest gains in endurance.
Other studies have shown that resistance and interval training both help to control blood sugar levels and can cure some people who already have diabetes (Ann Intern Med, Sept. 18, 2007;147(6):357-69). HBA1c blood tests that measure cell damage from diabetes can return to normal. The greatest improvement occurred in those who both lifted weights and performed aerobic training (Sports Med, April 2014;44(4):487-99). Furthermore, diabetics who can tolerate intense interval cycling gain superior improvement in blood sugar and insulin levels and drops in HBA1c, a measure of cell damage (Cardiovasc Diabetol, May 14, 2017;16(1):37).
Lowering High Blood Sugar Levels When blood sugar levels rise, the pancreas releases insulin that lowers blood sugar by driving sugar from the bloodstream into the liver. If the liver is full of fat, the liver does not accept the sugar and blood sugar levels remain high to damage every cell in your body, so people with high blood sugar levels must get fat out of their liver.
Resting muscles draw no sugar from the bloodstream and the little that they can draw needs insulin to do so. However, contracting muscles draw tremendous amounts of sugar from the bloodstream and do not even need insulin to do so. Having extra fat in muscles also limits the amount of sugar that can enter a muscle, so getting fat out of the muscles makes muscles more efficient in lowering high blood sugar levels.
If You Have High Blood Sugar Levels Having a normal fasting blood sugar level does not rule out diabetes. A high rise in blood sugar after meals can damage every cell in your body. If your blood sugar level one-hour-after-eating is greater than 140, your cells are being damaged and your life is being shortened. Other clues that your blood sugar is rising too high after you eat include:
• having more than two inches of fat under the skin when you pinch next to your belly button
• having a protruding belly
• having small buttocks
• being overweight
• having high triglycerides (>150), low good HDL cholesterol (<40), a sonogram that shows excess fat in your liver, or high systolic blood pressure at bedtime (>120).
My Recommendations If your blood sugar is greater than 140 one hour after a meal, Lose weight if overweight. Ask your doctor to help you try intermittent fasting (Surg Obes Relat Dis, Nov-Dec 2015;11(6):1315-22).
• Severely restrict refined carbohydrates (Clin Nutr, Oct 8, 2016). Most liver fat comes from sugar and other refined carbohydrates (J Clin Invest, May 2005;115(5):1343-51).
• Severely restrict all sugared drinks including fruit juices (J Clin Endocrinol Metab, Jun 2015;100(6):2434-42).
• Restrict red meat, processed meat and fried foods that block insulin receptors (JAMA Intern Med, 2013;173(14):1328-1335).
• Eat plenty of vegetables, seeds and nuts which are rich sources of soluble fiber (Clin Transl Gastroenterol, Jun 2016;7(6):e176).
• Try to exercise every day (Diabetologia, Jan 2016;59(1):56-66).
Caution:Intense exercise can cause heart attacks in people who already have blocked arteries. Check with your doctor before starting an exercise program or increasing the intensity of your existing program.
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