No, carbohydrates do not cause diabetes. Even pure sugar does not cause diabetes. One of the main causes of type II diabetes is dietary fat (particularly animal fats including dairy) and type I diabetes is most likely caused by an autoimmune reaction to the casein protein in milk and other dairy products at an early age, or possibly during pregnancy.
I have rheumatoid arthritis and the misinformation and lies which are propagated concerning RA and its relationship with diet really upsets me. Likewise, I read and hear so much misinformation and corruption of the truth concerning diabetes and diet that I just want to scream: “It’s the fat not the sugar!”.
I’m so tired of certain authors, bloggers, journalists, charities and others – lying and cheating in order to make money out of people’s suffering when it comes to chronic diseases like diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.
The facts are available, the science is very clear, chronic diseases are largely caused by poor nutrition and lifestyle choices and they can be successfully treated and often reversed through health promoting diet and other lifestyle changes.
Finding the truth about nutrition and health is extremely difficult, most people don’t have the time to search through and understand the authenticity and accuracy of scientific trials and studies. Most people with chronic diseases are vulnerable and frightened. These and other reasons make them susceptible to quick fixes, hearing good news about bad habits, magic pills, extraordinary claims, and fad diets.
Please, if you have type II diabetes stay away from high fat (especially animal fats and trans-fats) diets, they will not treat the cause of your disease, they will just increase its severity and lead to further complications. Keto and paleo diets, high-fat low-carb diets in general, and drugs, can improve the symptoms of diabetes including reductions in blood sugar and improvement in blood sugar control and other biological markers (A1c etc.). However, these improvements do not treat the underlying causes of the disease, and the disease itself will continue to worsen (the same situation applies to rheumatoid arthritis).
One of the main causes of type II diabetes is fat in the form of intramyocellular lipid accumulation within muscle cells and eventually in the pancreas itself. Genetics play a role but the genes involved can be influenced (epigenetics) by dietary and other lifestyle interventions. Other factors such as obesity, stress, lack of exercise and a damaged gut micro-biome can also contribute to the onset of diabetes. Type II diabetes can be successfully treated by correcting these issues.
Chronic reduction in insulin sensitivity primarily caused by intramyocellular lipid accumulation within muscle cells is what leads to type II diabetes, along with the other factors I’ve mentioned above. Reduced insulin sensitivity is what leads to high blood sugar levels during a glucose challenge for example. High blood sugar levels are often believed (incorrectly) to be caused by carbohydrates including sugars, however the reason for the high blood sugar level is because the sugar can’t enter the muscle cells to be used for energy. The sugar can’t enter the cells because the insulin receptors are blocked by intramyocellular lipids, for this reason the sugar builds up outside the cells and in the bloodstream.
Insulin sensitivity can be increased dramatically on a whole food plant-based diet low in added salt, oil, and sugar. At the same time as treating many of the underlying causes of type II diabetes, this diet can provide excellent blood sugar control, balanced energy production and insulin response dampening.
Important! – With type II diabetes, adopting a whole food plant-based diet low in added salt, oil, and sugar is so effective in treating the disease that it’s extremely important to work with your physician to tailor your medications to suit the subsequent improvements in blood sugar control and increased insulin sensitivity.
Prevention is better than cure and a whole food plant-based diet low in added salt, oil, and sugar has been shown to be effective in the prevention of type II diabetes (and most other chronic diseases). Once type II diabetes has developed, it can lead to a whole range of future associated diseases and injuries such as:
- cardiovascular disease,
- nerve damage (neuropathy),
- kidney damage (nephropathy),
- eye damage (retinopathy),
- foot damage (inability to heal properly),
- skin conditions,
- hearing impairment,
- Alzheimer’s disease.
For anyone who doesn’t yet have type II diabetes, the above list of complications surely provide the motivation necessary to implement health promoting lifestyle and dietary changes – now!
However in case the above ‘stick’ is not sufficient, here is the ‘carrot’ :-)
- lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar,
- reversal or prevention of heart disease,
- longer life,
- healthy weight,
- lower risk of cancer and diabetes,
- improved symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis,
- fewer medications (if any),
- more energy and better concentration,
- better sleep and ability to handle stress,
- lower food costs.
There’s an overwhelming amount of scientific evidence demonstrating that a whole food plant-based diet low in added salt, oil, and sugar is effective at treating and often reversing the majority of chronic diseases including type II diabetes. In the following video Dr Neal Barnard presents an entertaining and inspiring overview of the cause of type II diabetes and its prevention and treatment with a low fat, high carbohydrate, whole food plant-based diet. “Tackling diabetes with a dietary approach“.
In summary, carbohydrates do not cause type II diabetes. Chronic accumulation of intramyocellular lipids within muscle cells (primarily) causes insulin resistance which when coupled with other lifestyle contributing factors such as; obesity, lack of exercise, damaged gut micro-biome, excessive sugar and refined carbohydrate intake etc., leads to type II diabetes. A high carb low fat whole food plant-based diet can clear the muscle cells of intramyocellular lipids and increase insulin sensitivity, thus reversing the disease. The following video gives an excellent summary with evidence (2018) of how this process works. The dietary intervention described in the video is approved by the NHS: “How to reverse type II diabetes“.
Carbs image is public domain