Healthy Beginnings

Unveiling the hidden culprit behind diabetes (it’s not just sugar)

A teaspoon of curcumin (which comes from turmeric, a member of the ginger family) a day can help limit diabetes risk. Photo: Shutterstock

“Do not eat sweets! You will get diabetes!” — words that would linger in my head as my grandmother tried to scare us away from eating our favorite chocolates and candies.

Even in the past, they used to diagnose diabetes (this pertains to type 2 diabetes, which is adult or late onset) by setting your urine out in the open and exposing it to ants. If the ants flock and party on your pee, then you hit the diabetes jackpot (no tasting of pee please!).

As evidenced time in memorial, sugar was to blame for the dreaded disease. Do you ever wonder if sugar is just a fall guy and there is a real mastermind behind the case? Let us dig deeper into this mystery….

There are substances called saturated fats and Low-Density Lipids (also known as LDL, or bad cholesterol) that are usually found in animal-based food sources (cheese, meat, poultry, etc.). As they accumulate in our system, they tend to overwhelm the pancreatic beta cells (responsible for the production of insulin).

These substances are directly toxic to the beta cells leading to its destruction, and eventually affecting insulin production and secretion, per the 2013 article, “Lipotoxicity: Effects of Dietary Saturated and Transfatty Acids,” in the journal “Mediators of Inflammation.”

Proofs on how animal products contribute to the disease:

  1. It has been noted that there is a step-wise increase in diabetes risk in relation to egg consumption. The minimum evidence showed that even 1 egg a week proves to be significant; and, to the extreme end, 5 or more eggs a week had 3 times the risk of developing diabetes. Harvard researchers, as well as those in China and Europe, confirmed this with their own studies on their specific populations, as outlined in a 2013 study in the medical journal “Diabetologia.”
  2. There was a strong association of diabetes risk with processed meats, particularly poultry (specifically roasted or fried). Increasing consumption of animal products (50g or more) escalates the risk. Affiliated reasons would be the saturated fats, cholesterol content, animal protein itself, the heme iron content that may lead to free radical formation, and finally a possible infectious agent in animal meat, according to a 2011 study published in the “Journal of Dietary Supplement.”

Here are natural ways of conquering diabetes:

  1. A teaspoon a day of flax seeds for over a month produces blunting of sugar spikes during a meal, while lowering fasting blood sugar (FBS), triglyceride, cholesterol and hemoglobin A1c levels. It improves insulin sensitivity among those who are glucose intolerant, and lowers insulin resistance through the lignans it contains (2012 study in “Molecular Nutrition” journal).
  2. A teaspoon of curcumin a day improved FBS, glucose tolerance, hemoglobin A1c, insulin sensitivity and beta cell function. It lowers the fat levels in the blood that are responsible for beta cell destruction, per a 2012 report in the journal “Public Health Nutrition.”

From this information, focusing on the wrong enemy may be apparent. Sugar and carbs do play a role in diabetes, but in the grand scheme of things, it is fat that acts as its foundation.

We should realize that high blood sugar might be just a manifestation of a deeper problem that we can easily prevent through a plant-based diet and a healthy lifestyle.

Melvin Ibarra Nario, M.D., H.M.D., is among the physicians who work at Bio Integrative Health Center International in Reno. Visit or call 775-827-6696 to learn more.