In the last article I spoke of some of the evidence put forth by Dr. Jason Fung in part 1 of his 6 part series of videos entitled The Aetiology of Obesity. I have been very impressed with the quality of the lectures of Dr. Fung and while there is a lot out there on the internet I disagree with, he definitely has spent a lot of time researching these topics and is obviously a pretty bright fellow as well, and especially since he has been able to break free of all the brainwashing that medical doctors go through, not only in medical school but in practice as well.
There is a lot of good information on this topic on the internet but I’m especially impressed with not only his knowledge of these subjects but also how well he brings together all the science we have on all of this. We’re not asked to just take his word for it, and actually the other view does require that, those who see calories as the main driver of obesity for instance, they don’t back this up with science because there isn’t any good science to support it in the first place, but Dr. Fung certainly backs up his views with lots of evidence.
This is how we need to approach things like obesity and diabetes in fact, we need to look at the science and not ignore it, not just make some guesses about things and not just look at things superficially, but sadly, that’s what the medical community likes to do.
Most importantly though, we need to look at the aetiology of conditions, which means the study of the causes of disease, not just treating the symptoms and being happy about that, and this is actually how we approach diabetes as well, let’s control blood sugar short term and never mind about what causes it or if we make these causes worse as we try to treat it.
So Dr. Fung is out to look for the causes of obesity in this series, and that’s very related to our disease of diabetes, whether we are obese or not, and it’s not even that obesity makes diabetes worse, it’s because, as it turns out, both conditions end up being caused by the same thing, high insulin.
The approach we take to high insulin though is to just ignore it, see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. Given what we know about this though, that’s not only foolish, it’s harmful, and there aren’t enough people speaking up about this, and few do it better than Dr. Fung.
So we’ll continue on with this series by looking a bit at Part 2 of his series, and again, I recommend you actually watch the videos if possible to get the most out of them.
So our bodies seek out a certain set point and any attempt to reduce or increase the availability or the expenditure of calories will be met by a response by the body to counter it. So you hear all the time that people lack the proper will power to lose weight when they are unable to do it successfully, but the truth is, the body will work very hard to first counter that will power, and if that doesn’t work, it will produce metabolic changes to fight our efforts to lose the weight, and will come out on top in the end if our efforts are limited to reducing calories, increasing exercise, or even both.
So in other words, our bodies do fight hard to keep our weight at a certain level, a certain set point, which Fung likens to a thermostat, so the goal has to be to change the levels of the thermostat, and this is where hormones come in, especially insulin.
We can actually measure this effect pretty readily by looking at people’s insulin levels, and especially giving people additional insulin without changing anything else and seeing how their weight is affected. So in controlled studies where we have done this, it is very clear that insulin does indeed control this set point and we can set it higher or lower depending on insulin levels.
So as far as how this all cashes out for the treatment of diabetes, aside from concerns of increasing insulin resistance over time, strategies to treat diabetes that do so by increasing insulin levels also increase weight gain, and we know this for certain.
So when insulin goes up, we also see insulin resistance increasing, and while we normally think of insulin resistance as being a hallmark of type 2 diabetics, it’s also commonly seen in obesity without diabetes.
So what causes insulin resistance? Well there are a few things, but the biggest one has actually been shown to be too much insulin, and in addition to this making a lot of sense, we have also clearly shown this to be the case in studies where we increased insulin levels and saw insulin resistance increase in step, and this occurs in just a matter of a day or two.
As we increase insulin levels as a matter of treatment, intentionally, this has also been shown to increase insulin resistance more and more, and more and more insulin is required over time to achieve the same result. Weight tends to go up as well, even if people are reducing calories, and since both insulin resistance and obesity play central roles in the progression of diabetes, this is not a good thing.
So this also downregulates metabolism, which has to happen if people are gaining weight on less calories, and this is another undesirable effect.
So we do have a vicious circle happening here, which includes high insulin levels driving up both insulin resistance and obesity, and insulin resistance also driving up insulin levels, and while blood sugar may be well controlled for a time, our disease actually gets worse and worse, which is the big reason in fact why we don’t want to just focus on blood sugar, as we tend to do.
I’ll continue looking at this in the next article.