Triglycerides and the Type 2 Diabetes Epidemic

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Dr. Kathy Maupin and Brett Newcomb discuss the considerations in our diet that help prevent obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Did you know that the fat you eat in your diet is not the fat you need to worry about? The fat in your body that is created by your inability to burn the excessive carbohydrates and sugars you consume is far more troublesome. Carbohydrates are only meant to give you energy for physical labor. If you do not run marathons or work in the fields your carbohydrates should be limited to less than 25 grams of carb per meal. More than that and you just increase your triglycerides and store your carbs as fat in your abdomen. Triglycerides are one of the blood fats that increase the risk of heart disease.

All of us need to limit the carbs we consume and the additional sugars that are added to our diets. Americans exercise less and eat more carbohydrates than any other culture in the world. This element of our lifestyle is the reason so many Americans are on lipid-lowering drugs or have type 2 diabetes.

Why do we have so much sugar and carbs in our diet? Sugars make us feel good for a short time. Carbohydrates also make us hungrier so we eat more and buy more processed food. Once again, it comes down to the profit principle. Our diets are so saturated with sugars that we then crave more sugar—just like an addictive narcotic. Check the labels of your food products or drinks and you will find that most of them have added corn syrup or other types of sugar.

America was settled with farmers who worked in the fields and required the energy supplied by a high carbohydrate diet. So, the traditional high-carbohydrate diet has been passed down through the generations and persists even though most of us are no longer farming.

Lets think about food for a minute. It is our bodies’ fuel, and serves an important purpose. The fuel that our cars need isn’t something that should be looked forward to and enjoyed, it is just a means to an end. Food is our fuel, and we should consider it in the same way.

Our digestive system takes the food we consume—the proteins the fats and the carbs as well as the added sugars—and converts most of it into its basic elements; glucose, proteins, and blood fat (called “lipo-proteins” which are cholesterol, and triglycerides).

These simple building blocks are transported through the bloodstream to cells that utilize them to make new cells, tissue, and energy.

In a normal, healthy body, you should crave the food your body needs. If you are building muscle because you work out daily then you should crave protein, and you should then eat protein to build muscle tissue. Muscle is made from protein, not carbohydrates. If you also run, or participate in aerobic activity, then you need carbohydrates to make glucose—which is used by the muscles for energy. Your brain and cells need cholesterol and fats to rebuild cell walls and to store energy. Not getting enough of these elements is unhealthy: being too thin is a real possibility.

All the food groups are necessary for being healthy and rebuilding your cells. Our cells continually break down and require new supplies of nutrients to rebuild and to stay healthy. But what we don’t need is more simple energy which is deposited as fat and increases cholesterol and triglycerides when they aren’t burned off.

Too many carbohydrates in the diet increases insulin. This leads to what we call “insulin resistance.” Your cells get overloaded with sugar and cannot absorb more so the excess gets converted by your body and stored in your fat cells. As you gain more and more weight you become more and more resistant. Triglycerides in the blood increase and you develop type 2 diabetes.

After you have type 2 diabetes, it is very difficult to lose weight. So, preventing it is the best defense. When I find someone with high triglycerides and slightly elevated blood sugar, I start them on Metformin: a drug that aids weight loss by increasing insulin sensitivity. Additionally, drinking alcohol contributes greatly to sugar imbalance and to insulin resistance. The alcohol you consume is mostly sugar. If you want to prevent diabetes and lose weight, you must stop drinking alcohol until you are down to weight.

Your genetic code plays a part in your cholesterol and triglyceride level. Your genes determine if you are at risk for heart disease from high triglycerides and/or cholesterol. Some types of high triglycerides do not lead to heart problems and some do. Your family’s genetics determine that. It is important to get tested for the various lipoproteins to see if you are at risk.

Of course, diet plays a large role in lowering your risk of insulin resistance and diabetes. This is not a low-fat diet, but a low-carb diet. We were mislead for 20 years, but we know that carbs are the problems. We need some fats to repair our brains and cell walls. And, yes. Your cholesterol can also be too low.

Watch this podcast to hear our discussion of the risks run by the average American of becoming diabetic and of having a stroke or a heart attack. We talk about medicines, diets, and treatment regimens that can help you back away from the cliff that leads to diabetes and heart attack. It’s up to you.