High Fat, Protein and Diabetes
“With obesity and diabetes incidence and severity now at truly disconcerting rates, it is time to consider the possibility that implicating dietary fat as the primary cause and advocating that it be minimized has been a fundamental error.” (1)
In fact a diet higher in healthy fats is part of the solution to these epidemics affecting a startling number of people including children and young people.
Low blood sugar or hypoglycemia is a regular part of conversation these days. Our bodies are not meant to bottom out because we miss or have a meal later than usual. We’ve adapted to tolerate such changes in day-to-day day life. By normalizing feeling light-headed or irritated we are minimizing a possible warning sign of pre-diabetes which can be treated.
We now understand that a primary cause of diabetes and weight gain is over-consumption of acellular carbohydrates (meaning anything processed where the cellular wall of the food has been broken down). Replacing processed foods with carbs where the cellular wall is intact, as found in any whole food, is key to regaining healthy metabolic function. What these have in common with full fat foods, is an amino acid called butyrate. Butyrates are anti-inflammatory. They specifically act on the cells lining the colon and are associated with increasing insulin sensitivity. (2), (3) Studies have shown beneficial results in the treatment of Crohn’s, colitis and IBS as well as delaying neurodegenerative disease like dementia which is now being called diabetes type 3 by some researchers.
Metformin is the drug used to treat diabetes. Although it has many benefits there is substantial evidence of the positive effects of using berberines along with lifestyle changes can have similar results. (4) The positive effects on the gut microbiota cannot be minimized in terms of long-term health for the patient. (5)
What about protein…what’s safe?
A diet higher in protein has been proven safe for people who enjoy relative health. I’m not talking about a very high protein, low carb diet but a moderately higher protein intake. When it isn’t safe is further down the progression of diabetes where kidney function is impaired.
Choosing grass-fed meat and dairy is incredibly beneficial especially when it comes to full-fat products because fat is where toxins are stored. Grass-fed products also have a much higher content of omega 3 fatty acids. (6) This is also true of eggs which also contain the highest bioavailable form of choline, an essential nutrient. Organic chicken and beef liver can be consumed in small amounts a few times per week for their retinol content which is the bioavailable form of vitamin A. This nutrient is essential for vision, bone health and a host of other functions. Vitamin K2 is found in fermented foods, butter and cheese and needs to be consumed daily to support calcium metabolism.
What’s with Bone Broth?
A cup of bone broth every day is the cure-all. I often talk with patients about the reciprocal relationship humans have had with animals for a very long time and how small amounts of well-sourced meat can be medicinal or even lifesaving a certain times. Honouring the animal by eating all the parts has both a spiritual and scientific argument. Muscle meats contain an amino acid called methionine which needs high amounts of b-vitamins, choline and glycine in order to be metabolized. Glycine is what we get from bone broth. Include the tougher cuts of meat, cartilage, skin and organ meats for even greater benefit. One example of how glycine supports the body is that it helps with insomnia which in turn assists with every system in the body.
Bone broths can be made from fish as well and yes, include the head and eyes as this is where we get the high doses of retinol. The question comes up often about whether fish is safe to eat. The research shows that the key factor is there is enough selenium to bind and protect us from the mercury. If you stick to wild, cold water, fatty fish then the conclusion is that the benefits far outweigh the concerns. (7)