In this article, I am going to focus on what causes diabetes type 2. This is partly because 95% of all diabetics are type 2. More importantly, however, I'm focusing on type 2 diabetes because it is entirely preventable and completely reversible. By telling you what REALLY causes diabetes, you will have more power to do something about it.
How would you answer the following question: "What causes diabetes?"
Would you give one or more of the following answers:
1. Too much sugar and other carbs in diet
2. Genetics - it runs in the family - it's inherited
3. Being overweight - obesity - eating too much
4. Lack of exercise - being a couch potato
5. Not enough sleep and poor quality of sleep
6. Too much stress and anxiety
Okay, I'm about to tell you something that will likely surprise you.
The truth is the 6 factors above are NOT the underlying cause of diabetes. They do put you at a much higher risk of being susceptible to the underlying cause. They also make diabetes worse if you already have it. However, and I want to really emphasize this to you, these factors are NOT the cause of the disease.
More than 99% of all people I have talked with on this subject have no idea what really causes diabetes. I am about to tell you what REALLY causes diabetes and I hope you will help spread the word. If more people knew about this, we could lower the rates of diabetes and even reverse it on a mass scale.
The real cause lies in a radical change that took place in our food supply in the early 1900's. In fact, type 2 diabetes did not even exist before the 1920's! When I first learned this fact (and went to great lengths to verify it), it totally boggled my mind! This major change in the food supply was the introduction of hydrogenated vegetable oils to replace oils and fats derived from animals and natural vegetable oils like lard, coconut oil, flaxseed oil (all very popular in the 1800's and into the early 1900's). Shortening, a hydrogenated oil, replaced lard. Margarine, another hydrogenated oil, replaced real butter. Cooking oils for frying in large part became hydrogenated vegetable oil that stayed liquid at room temperature. Hydrogenation creates trans fat and trans fat causes diabetes! Butter is better for you than margarine - assuming it's organic. Lard is better for you than shortening - again, assuming it's organic.
Like many things in life, the change to hydrogenated oil was profit-driven. I want to emphasize that companies were not originally trying to create a healthier food substitute when they introduced shortening and margarine, as many people who don't know the history assume. In fact, there was a raging debate over the safety of hydrogenated oils during the 1920's and 1930's. People were very slow to accept the new chemically altered oils. In fact, Procter and Gamble was so desperate at one point to get consumers to accept Crisco, they were giving away 2 1/2 gallon containers of it. Even when it was free, people were reluctant to take it.
If it hadn't been for the Great Depression and then World War 2, consumers may never have accepted hydrogenated oils. The depression hit people so hard it made people do things they wouldn't normally do. Hydrogenated oils like margarine and Crisco were significantly cheaper than real butter and pig lard. The low price helped finally win over people.
When Americans got involved in World War 2, certain food items were rationed at home because they were needed for the troops overseas putting their lives on the line. Americans were asked to be patriotic and take rationing in stride. Butter was strictly rationed and it was during this time that margarine finally became widely accepted.
Americans (and Europeans) were so pre-occupied with the war effort and then in rebuilding our lives after the war, the health concerns over hydrogenated oils were largely forgotten, at least in the minds of the general public at large. Hydrogenated oils got another big boost in 1957 when the American Heart Association suggested that Americans needed to cut back on saturated fats like butter and beef. By the late 1970's, about 60% of the oils and fats consumed in the US diet were partially hydrogenated. This meant that our consumption of trans fat was at an all time high.
Ironically, hydrogenated oils which contain large amounts of the extremely unhealthy trans fats, were touted as "healthy" alternatives. Margarine was considered a "healthy" alternative to real butter. Beef fat and tropical oils used for frying in fast food restaurants were replaced by supposed "healthy" hydrogenated cooking oils in the mid-1980's.
Hydrogenation solved two major problems for profit-driven food companies. First, hydrogenation can turn a really cheap oil that is normally liquid at room temperature into a solid at room temperature. So, a super cheap liquid fat can be turned into shortening and margarine which are solids at room temperature. Second, hydrogenation can dramatically improve shelf life which means higher profits. Products made with animal fats and vegetable oils high in omega-3 go rancid quite quickly without refrigeration.
What does all this have to do with diabetes you may be asking. Well, it turns out that the trans fat created by hydrogenation is responsible for making our cell membranes more resistant to insulin. When trans fat gets incorporated into our cell membranes, they become impaired. They become less flexible and that means they are less capable of transporting glucose circulating in our bloodstream into our cells, i.e trans fat causes type 2 diabetes.
Before the 1920's, type 2 diabetes was unknown to the medical community. In fact, doctors of that time were completely baffled by it and didn't even know what to call it. The sudden emergence and subsequent rapid rise in type 2 diabetes correlates perfectly with the introduction of hydrogenated fats into our diet. In other words, the underlying mechanism of type 2 diabetes was artificially created by hydrogenation.
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