The other night I was trying to explain how trans fat causes diabetes to a friend who was recently diagnosed with pre-diabetes. After some discussion, she said I went into too much detail which made it too hard to understand. That put me to thinking that I needed to figure out how to simplify the topic so that it is more easily understood.
First, I should make it clear that trans fat causes type 2 diabetes, not type 1 diabetes.
To understand how trans fat causes type 2 diabetes, it is important first to understand that all fats are made of long chains of carbon atoms with hydrogen atoms attached to the sides of these chains. Depending on how the hydrogen atoms are arranged, the chains of carbons will either kink up or lie flat - this is a really important point as it is the key to how trans fat causes diabetes (see below).
In their natural state, fats are kinked because of the way hydrogen atoms are positioned - they are in what is called the "cis position" (same side of the carbon chain). However, food manufacturers often change this natural "cis" (kinked) position by a process called hydrogenation which involves extremely high temperatures. Hydrogenation denatures the fat molecules and the hydrogens re-orient into what is called the "trans position" (opposide sides of the carbon chain) to create what we called "trans fat."
Because trans fat lies flat and does not kink (because of the artificially produced symmetry of the hydrogen atoms along the carbon atom chain), the molecules can stack much more tightly together than does the natural "cis" fat. This means that a natural oil that is a liquid at room temperature can become a solid if hydrogenated because the fat molecules are stacked much closer together (the atoms in a solid are packed more tightly together than the atoms in a liquid). This is how margerine and crisco (both solids at room temperature) is created out of a hydrogenated liquid oil. The food manufacturers like to turn cheap oils into solids so they can increase their profit margins. Plus, fats in the trans position don't turn rancid so the shelf life is much longer - which is another reason the profit driven food manufacturers love to hydrogenate oils - it increases their bottom line.
Now back to how trans fat causes diabetes...
Omega-3 is a natural fat that is in the cis formation like all natural fats. Omega-3 fats are VERY IMPORTANT building blocks of the cell membrane in all cells in the human body. Without omega-3 in our cell membranes we would not live very long.
In a healthy cell membrane, the omega-3 is in the cis (kinked) position which allows the insulin hormone to very easily travel through the cell membrane. However, when we eat trans fat found in many types of processed modern food, this artificial trans fat becomes substituted into the cell membrane where the natural omega-3 should be. This creates a very "stiff" cell membrane - a very unhealthy cell membrane - which makes it much more difficult for insulin to get through the cell membrane -- this is how trans fat can cause insulin resistance, i.e. type 2 diabetes.
Insulin is the hormone that transports glucose from the bloodstream after we eat across the cell membrane to inside of the cell. In other words, if insulin can't do its job, glucose builds up in the blood stream and we get high blood sugar and we are not able to metabolize our food efficiently. This means a diabetic can literally starve when they are consuming food.
When the cell membrane becomes partially impermeable to insulin, it is said that we are "insulin resistant." In other words, insulin can't work efficiently with an unhealthy membrane where some of the healthy omega-3 fat is replaced by unhealthy and unnatural trans fat. The more trans fat that gets substituted into the cell membrane where the omega-3 should be, the more difficult it becomes for insulin to transport the glucose across the cell membrane and the worse the insulin resistance becomes.
I hope that made it less complicated!
If you want to reverse diabetes, it is absolutely essential that you eliminate ALL trans fat from your diet. To learn more about how to do this and also learn about other foods that you should eliminate, please visit this site and listen carefully to the entire video. You'll be given instructions how how to get all of the information you.