Is Weight the Cause of Type 2 Diabetes?

October 27, 2019

Listen in to Dishing Up Nutrition as we dispel a common myth that extra weight is putting you at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. The truth is, the cause of Type 2 diabetes is much more complex. We’ll help to show you that there are actually many other factors putting people at risk, which we will discuss throughout the show.

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KARA: Welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition everybody. This is brought to you by Nutritional Weight & Wellness. This morning we would like to dispel a commonly held myth that extra weight or obesity is the cause of type-two diabetes. So often people are told if you had just lost weight, you would get rid of your diabetes. Well today we want to help you understand that it's not necessarily always the extra weight that puts you at risk for developing type-two diabetes. There are a lot of factors. We're going to talk about that throughout the entire show today. Just to be clear, I'm not saying you know, you should not try to maintain a normal weight. But doing so is not necessarily the one cause of type-two diabetes. So we're going to talk about something called insulin resistance today. And, you know, that is actually what leads to weight gain, which could eventually lead to type-two diabetes. So what we're going to talk about today may be some new information to many of you. I'd like to introduce myself. I'm Kara Carper. I'm a Licensed Nutritionist, a Certified Nutrition Specialist and I have a master’s degree in holistic health and I'm excited to be here today with my colleague Teresa Wagner.


TERESA: Yes, I'm excited to be here too. So Kara, where do you think this myth or belief that weight causes diabetes actually comes from?


KARA: Well to some extent, you know, people with type-two diabetes are often overweight, but not all of them.


TERESA: Right, and many people are overweight because really because their cells no longer respond properly to insulin. And this is kind of what we're going to talk about today. This, this response that isn't as ideal as it should be creates a situation where they need more and more amounts of insulin to lower blood sugar. Subsequently, a conclusion was drawn that insulin resistance and excess weight cause type-two diabetes.


KARA: So that's where that came from. It's just kind of a misconception.


TERESA: Mmhm. The truth is, like we're going to talk about today, the cause of type-two diabetes is much more complex. You know, it's not just this, this related to weight thing. And like Kara said my name is Teresa Wagner. I am a Registered Dietitian and I've led a variety of groups with a goal of teaching those people with type-two diabetes why they need to follow a lower carb diet. In these groups I didn't explain the genetic connection that they may have with diabetes that would, you know, because their bodies might not be able to tolerate processed carbs and sugar. I just focused on the importance of cutting down on their carbohydrate intake. As I had just said, I really didn't explain that genetic connection of becoming diabetic. But today Kara and I want to share some of the basic facts about the different genetic causes and we're going to talk about how many different environmental factors are increasing your risk of becoming diabetic.


KARA: So Teresa, does it seem to you like a lot of people that have a family history of things like diabetes in the family or cancer or even heart disease, that people will often say, maybe in your counseling session, ”Oh, you know, I have a family history. I'm probably going to get diabetes.”


TERESA: Right.


KARA:  Have you had that?


TERESA: Yeah, absolutely; absolutely.


KARA: And while we know that genetic family history does put someone at a little bit of a higher risk factor, isn't it… it's about what 10% of our genetics is going to determine what happens with our health.


TERESA: Right.


KARA: So there's a lot of room for people to take control of that 90%.




KARA: So I just, I just want to dimension that going into this topic.


TERESA: And I think that there's a really interesting phrase that I hear kind of often in some of the things that I listened to. And it's your genetics loads the gun, but your lifestyle and your diet pulls the trigger. So we have a lot of control. So yes, it might be in their genetic code, but there are lots that we can do to prevent it from happening.


KARA: We’re not predestined to acquiring type-two diabetes because your mother had it for example. But here's some statistics: roughly 65 million more Americans have become overweight or obese in the past few years, while only 13 million have become diabetic. So you see there is like a correlation. Just because someone is overweight or obese does not predetermine that they are going to get type-two diabetes. Now here's another interesting statistic on medical costs. The average medical cost of someone with diabetes compared to someone with normal blood sugar levels is two and a half times greater. So let's kind of break that down.


TERESA: Yeah, so I was looking at the ADA website, the American Diabetes Association website, because I was like two and a half times. That doesn't sound very dramatic, but when you put it into a dollar amount, it sounds a little bit more dramatic. The average person with diabetes spends about $16,500 a year on medical costs, whereas the average American is closer to $7,000.


KARA: The average American with normal blood sugars. Okay.


TERESA: Yep. So that's a $9,500 swing in medical costs.


KARA: Wow. That's basically almost $10,000 more.


TERESA: Right.


KARA: That's very significant. A report released in July, 2017 found that 100 million adults in the United States are either diabetic or prediabetic. And today more than a third of United States adults have prediabetes. So the upcoming number of type-two diabetes is really going to continue to grow. It's obviously a serious health problem in our country, but actually all around the world. We believe it's really important to understand why. Why are so many people getting type-two diabetes? What can we do to take all these prediabetic cases and reverse that? Put those into remission so that they don't turn into type-two diabetes.


TERESA: Right. And that seems to be the smart thing to do, right, is let's prevent.


KARA: Right, right. Let's not wait until we have the diagnosis. That's why we’re talking about this today.


TERESA: Yes. And you know, a lot of times though, instead of looking at all those complex causes of type-two diabetes, many people, practitioners included, right, find it easier to blame the person who has it. They say “You just have to lose extra weight in order for your diabetes to go away.” Simple as that; right? “Lose the weight and then you'll be healthy.” There's still that judgmental belief that people with diabetes caused their illness only by overeating or eating a poor diet. And that those are the only reasons that it happens. Sadly, we live in a society that tells us that thin means healthy and extra weight means over-eating and laziness.


KARA: Yeah. And that is a misconception because a person can be overweight and still be healthy. A person can be thin and still be unhealthy. And I think sometimes we forget that. We're just going off of appearances and jumping to conclusions. So type-two diabetes is caused by excess insulin. So did everybody hear that? Because I think we always associate type-two diabetes with high blood sugar, right? Type-two diabetes is caused by excess insulin. So what we're saying is high blood sugar: that's just a symptom. It's not the actual cause of diabetes. So that might be really new information, kind of hard to wrap our heads around that. It starts with high blood sugars based on what usually people are eating and some other factors we're going to talk about. But that results in higher insulin levels.


TERESA: That's right. And if you're not familiar, insulin is the hormone that's responsible for bringing your blood sugar down. Here is the key point to remember: our tissues need to be sensitive to the hormone insulin, so insulin can do its job. However, if the tissue has become resistant to that hormone insulin, the insulin will struggle to clear the sugar from the blood. As insulin resistance sets in the first organs to stop responding to insulin are our liver and then our muscles, and then finally our body fat.


KARA: So I bet some of you might be thinking, “Well, how does this happen? You know, how does insulin resistance get started?” Well, it is the diet that starts this process called insulin resistance. Here's just an example. It's pumpkin season, right?


TERESA: Yes, everything pumpkin.


KARA: If you're listening live and you, especially if you live in the Midwest, everything is pumpkin and fall. And Halloween's coming up as we know. But if you're going to drink a 16-ounce pumpkin spice latte that actually has 13 teaspoons of sugar. A large chocolate chip cookie has 10 teaspoons of sugar. So with that combination you've just consumed 23 teaspoons of sugar. So that's going to cause an extreme spike in our blood sugars after we eat and drink something like that. So the pancreas has to work really hard to pump out extra insulin. The reality is all carbohydrates break down into sugar, which creates, you know, gives a message to the pancreas to produce insulin to like you had said Teresa, to bring those blood sugar levels back down. And so I am just looking at the time and it is time for us to take our first break. So we'll on the other side of break we'll talk more about blood sugar and insulin.


TERESA: You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. Today we're asking the questions, is weight the cause of type-two diabetes? Is it a myth or is it a fact. Stay tuned because we hope to answer those questions. And who knows? You may even be surprised.




KARA: Welcome back. You're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. Starting November 1 through November 22 we're offering five life-changing 90-minute classes and they're only $10 each.


TERESA: That's such an amazing price for a 90-minute class.


KARA: $10! That’s like two coffees. We're sharing two favorites for this time of year: Healthy Holiday Tips and Nutrition to Get You Through the Cold and Flu Season. Plus there are three other really popular classes as well. And I encourage you to sign up today because these do fill up quickly, especially with the $10 charge. You can call our office: (651) 699-3438. You can also sign up on our website, which is So check those out.


TERESA: Yeah, great classes. I am especially interested in the Cold and Flu or Healthy Tips for Holiday Eating.


KARA: I know. They're both good. I would take both of them.




KARA: All right, so before break, just kind of a reminder. You know, our topic today is, is being overweight or obese the cause of type-two diabetes? What Teresa and I are doing is we're dispelling just some common misconceptions that weight is the only factor with diabetes. So we're diving into a little bit that it's more complex than that. We started talking about how things like a pumpkin spice latte and a chocolate chip cookie would total 23 teaspoons of sugar.


TERESA: And sometimes if you think about that, you know, like you said, the latte has 13 teaspoons of sugar. Now just picture yourself at home with your cup of coffee and say you had a sugar bowl.


KARA: And a teaspoon.


TERESA: And a teaspoon. And you go back to the sugar bowl 13 times. I think that is kind of just eye-opening. You wouldn’t probably do that, right? I don't know very many people that would do that.


KARA: Maybe like one or two teaspoons.


TERESA: Yeah. But when we, you know, we add all the flavorings and all the yumminess that goes into those... and they are good-tasting. I mean, there's no denying that sugar tastes good, but what it does to your blood sugar like we're talking about today; is it worth it?


KARA: Right, we just want to educate, like I kind of think of those as sneaky sugars.




KARA: Because you don't really realize that you're consuming 23 teaspoons of sugar when you go to the coffee shop and get a latte and a cookie. So, I know I started explaining how that's going to create an extreme spike in the blood sugar. So you're going to have really high blood sugars after a snack like that or a treat like that. And then the pancreas is making excess insulin to come in and take care of all that excess blood sugar and try to get it into the cells.


TERESA: Yeah, just to keep your blood sugar level at that normal healthy level. Your body works really hard in order to maintain that healthy blood sugar level.


KARA: And so a certain amount of sugar gets stored in the liver and then in the muscles and you had said, and then in the fat cells. When the fat cells are, you know, they can't take any more and they start becoming resistant to all of that insulin that's circulating in our blood. So if the insulin is circulating in your blood, it's not really doing its job, right, to get the sugar into the cells? So then somebody starts to have high blood sugars. That's when somebody goes to the doctor and does a fasting glucose and it's over a hundred. Right? So that's the process that creates that.


TERESA: Which that's indicative: that over 100 is indicative of prediabetes, right? When we start to see that, then we're like, okay, we got to start watching… Well we probably should've been watching it before. But that’s a great warning sign.


KARA: Yes it’s a great warning sign. Ideally we would want our blood sugars like 70, 75, maybe 80; certainly well under 100. And so if that's happening repeatedly where the blood sugar is high and the insulin is unable to get it into the cells, that leads to pre-diabetes. So that's kind of the process.


TERESA: Yup. And remember earlier when I said that I was teaching my clients who are prediabetic or diabetic to eat foods lower in carbohydrates? I taught this because I want them to keep their tissues and their organs sensitive to that hormone, insulin. Excess carbs cause the pancreas to release excess insulin. So that makes sense, right? Excess carbs, excess sugar, excess insulin.


KARA: Yup, it's a cycle.


TERESA: Ultimately, to avoid insulin resistance, you need to eat foods that are lower in carbohydrates, right? So foods that are lower in carbohydrates: I think a lot of times we tend to think that carbohydrates are just bread and pasta, cereal; those types of things, right? But what sort of examples do you give to people when we we’re like, let's eat some lower carb foods?


KARA: Yeah, yeah. There is that conception that, “Oh, I'm, you know, I'm not doing carbs.”


TERESA: Or “I don't add sugar to anything.”


KARA: Yeah, yeah. But a lot of foods, again: kind of sneaky carbs, sneaky sugars. What about bagels, you know, or muffins, crackers, cereal, especially things like granola?


TERESA: Yes. And all those things have the same thing in common: processed carbohydrates. So not only are they higher in sugar, but they break down really quickly into sugar when we're digesting them.


KARA: Right, so something like a bowl of granola would have the same effect on blood sugar levels as the chocolate chip cookie that you would get at Starbucks.


TERESA: Right. Although granola has that impression that it's a super healthy food.


KARA: Right. Granola is very high in sugar.


TERESA: It is very high in sugar. So alternatives to that: you know, when we tell people to have lower carb foods, we're talking about things like leafy green vegetables and brussel's sprouts, asparagus, you know, even the lower sugar, some of the lower sugar fruits. That's what we're talking about.


KARA: Like berries.


TERESA: Yeah; just having some things that are lower in carbohydrates because we need carbohydrates for energy. I think they have this really bad rap. And sometimes when we talk about it like this, it seems like all carbohydrates are bad. That isn't true. We really want to have the healthy carbohydrates, you know, like those low sugar vegetables.


KARA: Right, like anything green. But also, you know, tomatoes are great; peppers.


TERESA: Sugar snap peas are wonderful.


KARA: Oh, that's another good one.


TERESA: It seems like they should be high in sugar because there's sugar in the name, but they're not.


KARA: Exactly.


TERESA: And another way you can avoid insulin resistance is by moving your body.


KARA: Right. And so Teresa, can you explain like why would moving your body; why would that help like to possibly prevent prediabetes?


TERESA: Well basically what it does is it lowers that insulin resistance in the cells and particularly in the muscles. Because when you are exercising, your muscles are using the sugar from your diet and the stored sugar from your liver in order to have energy for the cells to, you know, be able to walk or run or lift weights or do yoga; or whatever sort of exercise that you're doing.


KARA: Great. So it's burning off the sugar that we've eaten.


TERESA: That we've eaten.


KARA: And also you had made a comment, I think it's really interesting that in general it helps the cells. It's healing for our cells so that they're more likely to, you know, uptake the sugar from our, from our blood. So it's easier, it's easier for the insulin to get the glucose into the cells when we're exercising. We become more insulin sensitive. It's kind of the opposite of insulin resistance.


TERESA: Right; yup. And that carbohydrate is fuel for our muscle cells. So we use it up during exercise. The sad truth is, is that when your insulin level is elevated, you can't burn fat very well, right? And you will struggle to lose weight. It is so difficult to lose weight with insulin resistance. So you might be thinking, well, “Okay, what is a good insulin level? And how do you know what your insulin level is”? Well a good insulin level, I would say is anywhere under eight. But yesterday I was attending the Great Lakes Conference. It’s a nutrition conference that's held here, and the practitioner that was speaking said that really the best level is under five. So your insulin level is under five. So this is a test that you would get taken at the doctor's office. It's not typically run. So you probably would have to ask your doctor to run that if you were interested in your insulin level.


KARA: Why would somebody want to know their insulin level? Could you explain?


TERESA: Yeah, so it's a little bit tricky and it's a little bit probably less known. But with your insulin, getting that number, you kind of get a picture of what's going on in your body before it shows up with your fasting blood sugar or your A1C, which those are the typically run numbers at your doctor's office. Generally if you have a physical at least your fasting blood sugar will be run. So if you're fasting… well what I should say, I’ll back up here a second. If your insulin is doing its job, it's keeping your fasting blood sugar at a normal level. And if your fasting blood sugar is at a normal level, then your A1C will also be at a normal level. But if that fasting insulin level is high, say it's nine, 10; maybe it's 20, maybe it's 30; that indicates that you are probably eating too many carbs causing the pancreas to excrete excess insulin, which that overtime recreates that insulin resistance. But that number would be high. But perhaps your fasting blood sugar would be normal because insulin is doing its job of keeping it in that normal range. So that's why it's a really good indication of how you're doing with your diet.


KARA: So you're kind of like getting ahead of the game by knowing that insulin?




KARA: That's so fascinating. It's already time for our second break.


TERESA: Here we go. You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. We were discussing the real cause of type-two diabetes. If you have prediabetes or type-two diabetes and maybe you're concerned about Alzheimer's disease, there is some interesting research that has connected higher blood sugar to increasing your risk of Alzheimer's. When we come back from break, Kara will share some possible risk factors and some nutritional tips.




KARA: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. This is brought to you by Nutritional Weight & Wellness. Here's a motivational tip: sleep problems are a common feature of both Alzheimer's and diabetes. Poor sleep is a known risk factor for Alzheimer's and high and low blood sugars are associated with Alzheimer's disease and memory loss. So it's really important to maintain normal blood sugar levels to improve the sleep of someone that has Alzheimer's. And improvement in their sleep could potentially slow down the progression of the disease. And that's kind of new information for me when we were researching this.


TERESA: So interesting.


KARA: Having said that, I want to share some nutritional tips that can help to maintain normal blood sugar levels throughout the night when someone is sleeping. So this is really interesting. So before bed, it's a snack that would have like a high amount of healthy fat. Okay, so natural fats; we're talking about things like cream cheese, full-fat cream, cheese, butter, heavy whipping cream, olives, nuts, olive oil, coconut oil. I always think of like nut butters; nuts or nut butter. So a good snack before bedtime could be… this is an example: a half cup of berries with maybe three tablespoons of heavy whipping cream. Another example of a snack could be a small apple or a half of a large apple with maybe two to three tablespoons of almond butter. Okay, so that's where you're getting the healthy fat that's going to help stabilize those blood sugar levels.


TERESA: Yeah, I always tell people that fat is like that anchor that holds your blood sugar. It doesn't let it get too high, and then it also just maintains it.


KARA: Doesn't let it get too low.




KARA: Great. I like that: “anchor”. That's really helpful. Oh, avocado would be another one.


TERESA: Oh yeah.


KARA: That's a really great healthy fat. Another tip for good sleep is to take 400 to 600 milligrams of Magnesium Glycinate. That's usually going to be four to six capsules or tablets. And in addition to that, three to seven milligrams of melatonin; and the best kind of melatonin that absorbs the most quickly is sublingual. It's liquid that would go… or liquid or a tablet that goes under your tongue and dissolves right away. So if you're doing all of those things and somebody’s still having sleep problems, we encourage you to make an appointment with a nutritionist or a dietitian. And they can set up an individualized plan for you so that you can start getting better sleep or your loved one as well.


TERESA: Right. Sometimes when your loved one isn't sleeping, you aren't either.


KARA: Exactly.


TERESA: Yeah. So remember that before break, we were talking about our insulin levels and if your insulin level is higher than say five, which you can have that number tested at your, you know, your next appointment or physical, you can lower that number by reducing your intake of carbohydrates.


KARA: And your carbohydrate intake for a meal really should be around 30 to 35 grams; 30 to 35 grams of carbohydrates. For a snack, it's really about half of that, you know, maybe 15 to 20 grams at the most for a snack. So if you're wondering what that equates to, like the 30ish grams of carbohydrates, well, we know that a bagel contains 48 grams of carbohydrates. We also know that two slices of bread typically equal 35 to 45 grams of carbohydrates. And I had mentioned that 16-ounce pumpkin spice latte; all the sugar that it has. It's because it has 52 grams of carbohydrates. It's really easy… people are really overeating carbohydrates these days because they're everywhere. And some people really even need less carbohydrates than what I'm talking about. If they have prediabetes or insulin resistance or diabetes, they may need to go even a little bit lower than the numbers I just said.


TERESA: Yep. But there's some good news. So butter, coconut oil, avocados, mayo, particularly mayo made from a healthy fat like avocado oil, bacon fat even, the fat from nuts or meats or cheeses; those types of fats have zero effect on your insulin level.


KARA: There's that anchor you were talking about.


TERESA: Yes, yes. It holds it. So, yeah, so if you're having that apple, that apple will cause your blood sugar to rise. But if you pair it with that nut butter then it anchors it down. So these fats have zero effect on your insulin level and then people usually lose weight when they exchange those high carbohydrate-type foods for foods that have more fat. And you know, part of what I do is I teach people how to cut down on a lot of hidden carbohydrates. For example, in the morning when I have coffee, I put heavy whipping cream in it rather than something that has a lot of sugar in it. And it tastes lovely. Heavy whipping cream and coffee is such a treat.


KARA: You would get that in a carton, right?


TERESA: Right.


KARA: You get that heavy whipping cream in a carton.


TERESA: Right. And then instead of having a cookie for a snack, I'll have a handful of nuts or even like vegetables. So like we said, vegetables are a carbohydrate, but they have a very small amount of sugar in them. And so that doesn't cause your blood sugar to spike up so high. And then I like to pair that with a fatty dip and I love our Lil’ Dipper recipe. Have you tried that recipe?


KARA: Yes, I have.


TERESA: It's basically just, I don’t know, sour cream, mayo and a bunch of spices. It's so easy to throw together and I love it. It makes me excited to eat veggies for a snack because I'm not a huge raw veggie… at least I don't get excited about it. I like them. But this makes me excited.


KARA: I'm glad you brought that up because a lot of people are in your situation where they're like, “Oh I don't love vegetables.” But they might be afraid to eat fat. Like “Oh, I shouldn't have that dip.” Right, because it has fat. We're telling you we're considering a homemade dip like that with like three ingredients is a healthy fat.


TERESA: Yes. And it’s lovely. It is so good, I highly encourage you: go to our website Look up the Lil’ Dipper.


KARA: Recently on our website I noticed, I think we actually have six, at least six dip and/or dressing recipes.




KARA: And they're all fantastic with healthy fats. So there's more to the story than just insulin resistance causes diabetes. And while what we've already talked about today, many people with diabetes are overweight or obese, one out of five people that are diagnosed with diabetes are either thin or normal weight.


TERESA: I bet that's surprising to a lot of people.


KARA: Yeah. One in five is thin or normal weight. The majority of overweight people don't develop diabetes. So that's another important statistic. So even though overweight people in general are more likely to be insulin resistant, we're going to start to get into a little bit of a different topic: the genetic component of diabetes. And what researchers are finding now is that there are many genes that help to regulate blood sugar. When these blood sugar regulating genes get damaged, you can actually lose your ability to regulate blood sugar levels. Sometimes the damaged genes are inherited. So there might be that family history component, but not always. Researchers are finding that environmental toxins can actually damage these blood sugar regulating genes. So you might not even have a family history and just based on environmental toxins, it could be kind of like mutating these genes. So let's talk about what, what are some of these toxins?


TERESA: I think last week's show was a really good example of a lot of environmental toxins. Carolyn and Leah talked about chemicals in our food and in our water that are toxic artificial estrogens. These gene-damaging chemicals are found in pesticides and herbicides like atrazine or glyphosate, which is commonly known, you know or found in Roundup; even the herbicide Agent Orange, which was used for chemical warfare in Vietnam. These chemicals get into our food, into our water and then from there they get into our bodies. There are chemicals in our face creams, in our lotions and laundry soap, in fabric softener, in our shampoo. They are endocrine disruptors. So our endocrine system is our system that runs our hormones. So they disrupt our hormone-regulating system. And those things that are found in more of those personal care products are things like phalates, parabens, and synthetic fragrances. I mean, there's BPA. It's found in canned foods. It's in the plastics that are squeezable, right? So if you think of a water bottle, if you can squeeze the plastic, it's probably a BPA-like plastic. It's also found in receipts. So as you go to any retailer and they hand you the receipt, the BPA is on that receipt. And it can get into your bloodstream transdermally. And that's kind of how those personal care products work is that it comes in through our skin and gets into our bloodstream.


KARA: Sure, so when you're talking about like lotions, shampoos; all of that.


TERESA: Yup, anything you put into your skin basically gets into your bloodstream.


KARA: Okay.


TERESA: Or partially anyway; when your genes, when this happens, these chemicals that we're taking in either through our food or personal care products, like I was saying, these chemicals cause damage to our genes. And when our genes are damaged, they keep your body from being able to regulate your blood sugar.


KARA: So interesting.


TERESA: And just kind of a note on that. So if you're curious about how your personal care products rate or like your soaps and things that you use around your house, you can go to the Environmental Working Group. Their website: it's and basically you can look up your items and see, you know, kind of how they rate. And they use a stoplight scale. So red being stay away from and green being a good product.


KARA: That's a great resource. It's


TERESA: Oh .org. That's right.


KARA: It's going to be time for break. So you know, we have a segment coming up on more on pesticides, herbicides and toxins. But let's take our last break here first.


TERESA: You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. You may want to put this seminar on your calendar. On Saturday, November 9, we are presenting our Menopause Survival Seminar at our St. Paul location. If you have perimenopause, menopause or post-menopause symptoms, you don't want to miss this information-packed day. Sign up by calling 651-699-3438 or go to our website and sign up there at




 KARA: Welcome back. You’re listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. We hope that you enjoyed and learned from our podcast. If you are a podcast listener, we really ask that you write a review if, you know, if you're listening to this as a podcast. We spend a lot of hours researching, writing and recording this, and we want these podcasts to be of value to you. So please give us feedback. Let us know how we're doing. Share it with a friend or family who may be interested in the topic. And we really believe the saying of the beloved Maya Angelou, “Do the best you can until you know better. When you know better then you're going to do better.” And nutrition education and nutrition knowledge can help you to know better so that you can do better and take better action to care for yourself.


TERESA: Yeah, it's such a nice quote. It’s really applicable to so many things.


KARA: I love Maya Angelou. She’s wonderful. So let's dive a little bit more into type-two diabetes and toxins, and specifically Agent Orange or other herbicides. Agent Orange actually is an herbicide. And the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs believes that in 2016, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs issued a statement; and it said that veterans who developed type-two diabetes and we're exposed to Agent Orange or other herbicides during their military service, do not have to prove a connection between their diabetes and their military service to be eligible to receive VA health care and disability compensation. So that was a huge mouthful.


TERESA: Yeah. So what does that mean?


KARA: What does that mean? Here's what it means: The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is very aware of the fact that if you already have sensitive blood sugars or you know, if you have something going on with your blood sugars with regulating the genes because of Agent Orange, that you will likely not be able to manage those blood sugars and are more likely to get diabetes. Not everyone that served in Vietnam and was exposed to Agent Orange became diabetic. But the researchers believe that those who did become diabetic had abnormal blood sugar regulating genes that are associated with type-two diabetes. So, you know, basically the genes just became even more damaged when they were exposed to that Agent Orange toxin or herbicide. It's really kind of disheartening.




KARA: But I mean it's important to know that because there's such a large population that unfortunately was exposed to Agent Orange.


TERESA: Yeah. And you know, on a little bit different note, you know, just staying on the genes connection, some people have genes that make blood sugar regulation more difficult than for other people’s. Researchers have found a variety of environmental factors that can push these borderline genes into full-fledged diabetes. I want to name just a few of these environmental factors. The first one I'm going to talk about was a study that was done in 2008 that found a high prevalence of type-two diabetes and prediabetes in the adult offspring of women with gestational diabetes. So basically these are people whose moms, had gestational diabetes or had diabetes while they were pregnant. There was another study that found higher rates of diabetes in people with higher levels of pesticides and PCB in their blood. PCB is a group of man-made chemicals that were widely used in electrical equipment, paints and other, you know, types of things quite a while ago. But it's a very stable chemical so it's still in our system today, like in our environmental…


KARA: Kind of like the Agent Orange, right?




KARA: It doesn't necessarily go away.


TERESA: Yeah. Yes. And then there was another study conducted in April of 2009 that found that when rats were giving atrazine in their water, so that is more of a… I don't know if it's an herbicide or if it's a pesticide, but in any case that chemical atrazine in their water: they had an increase in their body weight, they developed more abdominal fat and they developed insulin resistance. So it affected their genes where they had that insulin resistance.


KARA: We are hearing more and more about atrazine. I know last week Leah and Carolyn talked about that quite a bit in their show as well. Some people are born with abnormal blood sugar regulating genes. And then when they're exposed to a variety of all these chemicals that Teresa’s been talking about and other environmental factors, that can just increase the risk of developing diabetes. So to reduce your risk of developing diabetes, we just want to share some basic lifestyle and eating tips.


TERESA: All right, so the first one: get your sleep. Lack of sleep affects how well your genes work to regulate your blood sugar.


KARA: Yeah, and I had talked about that after that break too in regards to Alzheimer's and regulating blood sugar. And it's important that that population is sleeping well.


TERESA: Yeah. I think was it in Matthew Walker's book of Why We Sleep where they talked about how if you have one missed night of sleep or you have one poor night’s sleep that your blood sugar could measure like a prediabetic range? I think that's what it said.


KARA: So if somebody for example, sleeps five and a half hours one night, which is not enough…


TERESA: Or maybe even pulling an “all-nighter” studying or maybe working shift work or something like that.


KARA: Just one night. Yeah, it's definitely, and then think about night after night after night; what that would do to blood sugars. The second tip is drink filtered water. And you know, really do your best to just avoid plastics. Get a nice a stainless steel water bottle; a glass container. And remember that tap water that's not filtered out can contain pesticide residues.


TERESA: Another tip is to eat organic vegetables and fruit to avoid those pesticides and herbicides. I think last week Leah had mentioned that that's a quick thing too in five days you can reduce your pesticide/herbicide load in by 60% in five days.


KARA: Wow.


TERESA: And they measured that I think through urinary excretion of those chemicals.


KARA: People might be thinking, “Oh, it's, I've been eating this way for too long. It's too late.” You can turn these things around in a week. Another tip is avoid grains that have herbicide and pesticide residue, which unfortunately a lot of grains do. And we're talking about things like breads and pasta, cereal, bagels. Yeah.


TERESA: Another tip is to eat 100% grass-fed meat; grass-fed, grass finished. You eat basically what they eat.


KARA: Yup, you're not getting the antibiotics, the hormones and all of the pesticides that the animal was consuming if you're, you know, if you're eating organic grass-fed. Avoid fast food. I feel like that's kind of a no-brainer. But fast food has chemicals. It has unhealthy fats. It's going to contain things like corn oil, soybean oil, canola and cottonseed oil. We want to stick to healthy beneficial fats like avocado oil, coconut oil and butter; and olive oil of course.


TERESA: And then we do want to eat carbs, but we want to be picky about our carbs. We want to eat real carbs, such as the organic vegetables and fruits. And avoid processed foods.


KARA: And you know, when you see people who can eat processed foods; we hear that a lot, don't we? “My friend or my sister…”


TERESA: “They eat whatever they want.”


KARA: “They eat whatever they want and they're not overweight and they don't have prediabetes or diabetes.” Some people are blessed with healthy blood sugar regulating genes, and maybe they have not been exposed to damaging environmental factors. So that's just one thing to keep in mind. If you want help developing these basic lifestyle and eating habits to reduce your risk of developing diabetes, call our office: (651) 699-3438. Set up an appointment that works for you with a dietitian or a nutritionist. And you're going to get a lot of great information.


TERESA: Yes. Well our goal at Nutritional Weight & Wellness is to help each and every person experience better health through eating real food. It's a simple yet powerful message. Eating real food is life-changing. Thank you for listening and have a great day.

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