According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the incidence of diabetes has increased eight-fold since 1958. The diabetes epidemic started four decades after sugar consumption began to increase and shows little correlation. That is not to assert that sugar does not contribute to diabetes.
Another possibility is the increased incidence of obesity, which is a known major risk factor for diabetes. However, the obesity epidemic appears because of the same causes as diabetes: diabetogens, many of which are also called obesogens. As previous studies have shown, the diabetes epidemic does correlate with the rate of release of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) into the environment. Of course correlation does not prove causation.
More convincing is the correlation between body load of POPs and risk of metabolic syndrome which studies are showing the association is synergistic. Adding up the numbers shows potentially the whole epidemic is apparently due to the massive increase in body load of toxins. Even if we do not know the exact percentage contribution of each toxin, their role in the epidemic appears undeniable.
There are many mechanisms for blood sugar control disruption by these toxins. They can be loosely divided into two broad categories: impaired insulin sensitivity and decreased insulin production. In impaired insulin sensitivity, Bisphenol A (BPA) blocks insulin receptor sites causing insulin resistance, which in turn increases the incidence of diabetes and obesity. Studies found there is a direct correlation between the amount of arsenic in a person’s body and risk of diabetes.
Here are some top sources of diabetogens.
Arsenic: Exposure occurs primarily through diet and water. Seafood, rice, mushrooms and poultry are main food sources.
Bisphenol A: This is used in the production of polycarbonate plastics. These plastics are used in many ways, such as food and drink packaging, including canned foods and water bottles, compact discs, implanted medical devices and even in some dental sealants and composites.
Dioxins: These are a large class of highly toxic POPs. They are by-products of several industrial processes and new-to-nature molecules made for specific purposes.
Organochlorine Pesticides: Everyone who eats conventionally grown foods is exposed to OCPs. The exposure is even higher for those drinking water and breathing in farming areas.
Polychlorinated Biphenyls: Although banned in 1977, PCBs were manufactured first in 1923 and have heavily contaminated the environment.
Phthalates: These are a family of organic chemicals used as a plasticizer for multiple manufactured product purposes. Diet is the main source of phthalates as they easily contaminate fatty foods such as milk, butter and meats when in plastic containers.
Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons: These are a group of hydrocarbons with multiple aromatic rings. They are the primary carcinogens in cigarette smoke and are found in charbroiled food, smoked meats, in the air in cities and wherever fossil fuels are burned.
A number of laboratory tests are available to determine total body load of toxins as well as the level of specific toxins. There are conventional laboratory tests and toxin-specific laboratory tests.
There are essentially five types of strategies for decreasing body load of toxins. They are: avoidance, increasing glutathione production, increasing dietary fiber, toxin-specific interventions and toxin-specific interventions.
The following toxin-specific interventions presuppose glutathione support and increasing dietary fiber. For arsenic, methylation is the normal mechanism for excretion of this toxin. A study in rats shows that probiotics Bifidobacterium breve and Lactobacillus casei bind BPA in the gut and increase excretion in the stools. Vitamin C has been shown in human cell cultures to suppress dioxin carcinogenesis. NAC has been shown in human cells to decrease glutathione depletion by OCPs. Epigallocatechin gallate and quercetin have been shown in human cell lines to protect against DNA damage from PCBs. In rats, a-lipoic acid, resveratrol and curcumin protect against the testicular toxicity induced by phthalates. Antioxidants such as vitamin C and vitamin E at modest daily doses have been shown to protect women smokers from DNA damage. Most of these chemical toxins are very difficult to get out of the body.
Some other nutrients to consider in preventing diabetes are:
Vitamin D: This vitamin isn’t just crucial for maintaining healthy bones. It also regulates inflammation and insulin sensitivity.
Magnesium: This is an essential cofactor to more than 300 enzyme systems in the body, including several that regulate blood sugar.
B12 and Folate: These alleviate oxidative stress in diabetics, improving symptoms such as diabetic retinopathy.
Berberine: This is a bitter compound with potent antidiabetic properties and can be found in Oregon grape, barberry and goldenseal plants.
Alpha-Lipoic Acid: This is a sulfur-containing compound that acts as a powerful antioxidant in the body. This has several good attributes.
There are also some lifestyle changes that can help diabetes prevention.
Improve Your Gut Health: An altered, inflammatory gut microbiota is paramount in the development of type 2 diabetes. Supplementation with Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria improves biomarkers of inflammation and oxidative stress in type 2 diabetics and lowers fasting blood sugar by promoting an anti-inflammatory gut microbiota.
Exercise: A sedentary lifestyle is a significant risk factor for type 2 diabetes, so exercise should be a central part of any treatment plan for the disease. Research indicates that walking 30 minutes a day reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes by approximately 50 percent.
Sleep: The dramatic increase in the incidence of type 2 diabetes over the past few decades has paralleled a progressive decrease in sleep duration reported by American adults. Sleeping less than seven to eight hours a night has emerged as a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
Reduce Your Stress Levels: Chronic stress is another overlooked but significant risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Research indicates that reducing psychological stress can improve blood sugar management in type 2 diabetes. Meditation, yoga and breathing exercises have been found to decrease fasting blood glucose and post-meal glucose in diabetics.