What is the Cause of Diabetes?

What happens within the body of a diabetic? Understanding this can help us discover how to fight this disease. 

This is the second video on a series of short videos on diabetes.

Chad Kreuzer here with Anchor Point Films. I want you to understand some of the physiology of how diabetes actually works. I am not here to tell you all of intricacies of it or all the deep scientific terminology. I want to make it very simple so that almost anybody can grasp the make-up of how type 2 diabetes works. In order to understand that, first I want you to understand how a healthy person's physiology works. Basically, if you have a meal, and it has some starches and some carbs, probably some fats, protein. It has a mixture of food. Well, some of those carbs and some of the starches break down into simple sugars. They ultimately break down some of them into what we call glucose, but we will just call it sugar for the rest of the time just so that you understand it. As you eat the food, it goes down into your stomach and then over time it begins to break down to digest and ultimately some of it will make its way into your bloodstream as "sugar". As it begins to increase the blood sugar, because as your digesting it more of it gets into your blood stream. Your body senses that and in the picture here on the left side you see something called the pancreas. It sits behind your stomach and the pancreas produces something that helps to metabolize or helps your body to get the sugar that you need into your cells so that your cells can have energy. Your pancreas produces something called insulin, a hormone called insulin. So, basically every one of your cells in your body…so here you have a cell and this cell needs energy. Just like you need energy, just like your car needs fuel. Your cells need fuel and one of the main sources of fuel for your cells is glucose or sugar. Now, in certain situations fat can also be metabolized and function as energy for the cells, but the main source is a simple sugar. Your cells need sugar just like a car may need gasoline. I had a motor home for years that I had a key to actually get into the fuel tank. You had to have a key to open it up. The cells also need a "key" to open them up and the "key" that they need is insulin, which is produced by the pancreas. When you eat a meal, the blood begins to get more sugar in it. Your body tells the pancreas, "hey man we have got to get that sugar into the cells.", so that our cells have energy. The pancreas begins to shoot out a bunch of "keys" and those "keys" are insulin. They come forth and they connect with the cells through something like a "key receptor" which is called an insulin receptor. As it connects, it "turns the lock" and the cell opens up and it allows the sugar to get in. Here is a little video to illustrate it…so these five-pointed flower-shaped substance is the insulin. First it makes its way and it connects to the insulin receptor. This is a normal person and that is a cell there, the portion of a circle that you see. As the insulin connects, it opens up the cell and because of that the sugar gets in to the cell, that little white ball is the glucose- the sugar. Once it gets into the cell, your cell has energy and you have energy and you are able to go about life and feel good. Now this is what happens in a normal person, but I want you to see the very same thing and see what happens in a type 2 diabetic. So, here is a type 2 diabetic, their pancreas still produces plenty of insulin, actually type 2 diabetics may produce twice as much insulin, but something is stopping the sugar from getting into the cells. So, they eat a meal with some sugar in it and the blood sugar begins to go up. Here's what happens…the sugar wants to get in the cell, but the insulin is not connecting well or maybe it even connects but it is resistant to allowing the sugar to get in. Scientists call this insulin resistant. If you notice this picture, the cell here is kind of pale. I just made it that way for illustration's sake. This cell now has more fat in it. The scientific term for this is intramyocellular lipid, which simply means "fat within the cell." What does this mean? Because fat has gotten into this cell, the key doesn't work very well anymore. Dr. Neil Barnard gave the illustration that it would be similar to someone sticking bubble gum in your key hole. You have a good key, your insulin, and you have a good lock, but somebody has gummed it up. When you get fat within your cells, the fat that gets in there gums it up so that the "keys" don't function very well. The greatest risk factor for type 2 diabetes is excess weight. So, if we can get the fat in the cell out of there. If we can burn up the fat within the cell. The main way to do that is learning to change our diet so that our bodies will burn that fat up. Our bodies will function. In a type 2 diabetic, 95% of them can reverse it in very short order. We are going to talk more about that as we go forward.