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How Excess Calories Lead to Diabetes

Saturated fats that you make in your own body are more dangerous than the ones you eat in your food. The largest study of its kind, from the University of Cambridge in the UK, shows that the saturated fats that increase risk for diabetes and heart attacks are made primarily by the human liver from carbohydrates, and far less so from eating foods that are high in saturated fats (Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, published online August 6, 2014). Researchers followed 340,234 adults from eight European countries. Using high-speed blood analysis, they measured the types of saturated fats in the bloodstream and found that they could predict who would become diabetic by their high levels of even-chain saturated fats.

Classification of Fats: Fats are classified by their chemical structures into polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and saturated. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are felt to be healthful. Previously we thought that all saturated fats were harmful. However extensive recent research shows that some saturated fats are healthful, while other saturated fats are harmful.

Subclassification of Saturated Fats: All fatty acids are long chains of carbon atoms. A fatty acid chain can have either an even number of carbon atoms or an odd number. The vast majority of even-chain saturated fats that increase risk for becoming diabetic do not come from the food that you eat. They are made by the human liver in response to excess calories from alcohol, soft drinks and foods made from flour or starchy vegetables such as potatoes, and far less from dietary sources such as meat, butter, cheese or fried foods. Most of the odd-chain saturated fats that are associated with protection from diabetes come from eating dairy products.

Who is at Risk?
Everything that increases blood levels of even-chain saturated fatty acids also increases risk for diabetes and heart attacks. Risk factors include everything that increases the amount of even-chain saturated fats in your body:
• being overweight,
• storing fat primarily in the belly,
• having a fatty liver (diagnosed with a sonogram test),
• taking in more calories than you burn, particularly from sugars and other refined carbohydrates,
• liver damage from any source.

What This Means for You
If you do not want to develop diabetes or a heart attack, do not be overweight. Being overweight or taking in too many calories causes your liver to increase production of saturated fatty acids.
• Try to exercise every day.
• Eat lots of fruits and vegetables.
• Avoid or severely restrict sugared drinks, sugar-added foods, alcohol and foods made from flour. Restrict all concentrated sources of calories such as meat, butter and cheese.
• Weigh yourself daily in the morning. If you have gained more than a pound, skip meals and restrict food until you have returned to your desired weight. I recommend Intermittent Fasting for weight loss and weight control.

Checked 5/12/17

September 7th, 2014
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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