This is the third and final part of our look at part 2 of Jason Fung's series on obesity, which is a very interesting video indeed. We left off talking about the importance of giving our body enough breaks from eating, and spoke about how more frequent eating causes less time spent in the fasting state, which causes our average insulin levels to increase, and looking to decrease this has been shown to be important in treating both obesity and diabetes.
So as we have increased the frequency of our eating over what we used to eat several decades ago, this has been correlated with both an increased rate of obesity and diabetes, and while this is not the sole cause of this for sure, it very likely has contributed to it.
In the fasting state, this is where we do a lot of our fat burning, and one of the main reasons why is because our insulin levels are lower, in addition to not having a glucose infusion from our digestive system, so if we're eating more often, we're burning less fat, and becoming more fat in turn.
Dr. Fung then mentions the dramatic rise in infant obesity in recent years, since we've been eating more carbs and eating them more often, and he explains this by increased serum insulin levels of mothers, leading to both increased birth weight and increased obesity during infancy. So we're affected by this even in the womb now.
Obesity has a strong genetic component, and the calorie model of obesity cannot explain this, but it may be that we are more or less disposed to issues with insulin metabolism genetically, and this would explain how there is such a strong genetic component here. The tendency to gain weight on a given amount of calories does differ quite a bit among individuals in general as well, suggesting that there is a wide variation of hormonal responses present.
TZDs, a class of anti diabetic medications that sensitizes patients to insulin, has been shown to reduce blood sugar pretty effectively, but given that it causes us to be more sensitive to insulin, it also has the effect of promoting weight gain, in addition to higher risks for heart attacks and cancer, so it's not quite as simple as just looking to increase insulin sensitivity to promote overall health, nor is it good just to look at reducing blood sugar levels in diabetics.
As I spoke about in another article, insulin resistance is for the most part a protective mechanism, protecting us against too much insulin and too much glucose and fats in our cells, and just because we have too much of both in our blood doesn't mean that it's supposed to all go into our cells, and the problem really is that there is just too much in our blood period.
The same things tend to happen with injected insulin as well, it lowers blood sugar but causes these other complications, especially weight gain, and weight gain in itself is certainly not a benign condition at all, and likely plays a role in the proliferation of these other diseases that are associated with too much insulin uptake.
Cheap, subsidized carbs, particularly corn, is driving a lot of the obesity we're seeing these days, especially among low income people who may not be able to afford less carb rich diets. We've even created an obesity problem in dogs now, where over half of dogs are overweight from going from their traditional diet of meat to food where the number one ingredient is often ground corn, as well as other carbs.
Dr. Fung speaks of the increased glycemic potential of refined carbohydrates, and there is at least some truth in this, although with a lot of diabetics it's important to realize that even unrefined carbohydrates can produce unacceptable spikes in blood sugar, and although refined ones certainly do this more, we don't want to feel like we are immune to the effects of unrefined carbs, especially whole grains, and grains in themselves have a lot of issues with them, like their tendency to produce inflammation, which are even more present in the unrefined variety.
There is a huge focus on increasing fiber in our diets, but interestingly, a high fiber diet may not be as good as we think. Dr. Fung references a study where a high fiber diet, which was hoped to reduce risk of heart attacks, actually produced a 23% increase in them.
There is also a belief that a high fiber diet reduces risk of cancer, but studies have shown that this is actually a myth, with no reduction shown.
He does point out though that carbs without fiber does increase the risk of diabetes though, so it still has its benefits, and that's not really surprising, because processed carbs are more bioavailable, although once again unrefined carbs in too high of an amount are not benign by any means, especially when we look at their effect on the blood sugar of diabetics, a very telling marker to be sure.
I cannot consume grains of any type for instance without going much higher than I would like, blood sugar of 250 or more, and while I might not go up quite as much from whole grains, I still go almost as high and to a level that clearly is not acceptable. So this is why it's important to not just go by guidelines we're given, but to actually test foods to discover the actual effects upon us, which should never just be assumed, especially when these assumptions are incorrect.
So while Dr. Fung does promote unrefined carbohydrates, but only in moderation, but in the end it really comes down to what effect certain foods have on us, and this is why we have a meter.
Ultimately, it is carbs that we need to be most aware of here in our treatment of both diabetes and obesity, and the overconsumption of carbs plays a central role in increasing our insulin levels too much, which is what is behind all of this when we look closely enough.