This question about the cause of diabetes is one that medical science hates to answer, over which many people get discouraged while waiting to get the understanding. More than a hundred years ago, someone wrote this statement. “Disease never comes without a cause. The way is prepared, and disease invited, by disregard of the laws of health.”
Today, we know enough about type 2 diabetes and the controllable factors that determine the development and course of the disease, so that we can cause ourselves much less suffering and save on medical costs. If we work intelligently to remove the cause by following the simple health principles (laws) we can help demonstrate the answer to the question that our doctor may not like to answer.
Not one cause but several controllable factors Regarding type 2 diabetes, the American Diabetes Association says, “Experts don’t know for sure what causes type 2 diabetes. They do know that you cannot catch it from someone else, like the flu. They know it is not caused by eating too much sugar. It does run in families.
That quote from the popular ADA publication, Diabetes A to Z: What You Need to Know About Diabetes – Simply Put, gets a little fuzzy near the end. I call it “blaming mama”. However, there is no diabetes gene as in the sense that there is a sickle cell trait, or that bald-headedness is passed on to a son via his mother’s chromosomes. What tends to “run in families” are habits – i.e. ways of doing things. Some of these ways are learned and others result from actual genetic makeup, but there is no diabetes gene.
All the evidence available today points to the fact that, for the large majority of cases, type 2 diabetes is caused by lifestyle habits or practices relating to diet, exercise, rest, stress.
The Anderson Experiment Research conducted years ago by Dr. James Anderson, M.D., professor of medicine and clinical nutrition at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine showed that a high fat diet can cause healthy people to develop type 2 diabetes in less than two weeks. Similar research has shown that carbohydrates and sugar do not cause diabetes.
What we know about diet and development of type 2 diabetes is that a high fiber, complex carbohydrate, low fat diet is both prevention and “cure” for the diabetic condition. The problem is that the food and prescription drug industries and their advertisers do not wish that this knowledge be loudly incident on your ear. It would be bad for the business economy if every would-be diabetic were to regulate their diet so that they would never need diabetes drugs, insulin, or expensive medical care. Such a health revolution could make the prescription drug industry comatose by saving more than 15% of all medical costs for direct diabetes treatment alone; not counting the large sums spent on treating related illnesses like kidney disease, blindness, other diabetes complications, and complications from drug side effects.
Sleep deprivation Can you remember hearing anyone say that lack of sleep or improper sleep can trigger the onset of type 2 diabetes? Probably not. However, this has been well documented in the journal, Diabetes Care and others for many years now. Our modern societies are well geared to keeping us awake and to get us fat at the same time.
Many middle aged people living in 2010 did not grow up on 24-hour television programming. That screen went blank at midnight when many boomers were growing up, and of course, most of our cities and towns slept at nightfall. We live in a different world and it is understandable why the rates of type 2 diabetes and related diseases keep rising despite our medical technology advances.
Lack of physical exercise The lack of physical exercise that would prevent overweight and obese conditions is clearly part of the cause of diabetes. However, when a diabetic engages in regular exercise, the benefits are tremendous. It should be understood that the only requirement for regular exercise is “time and commitment”. Even the physically challenged can benefit from exercise AND you do not need a gym membership – walk.
You can lower your blood glucose level in two weeks, while losing extra weight and improving general health, by simply walking for 30 minutes every day. It may be necessary to start small and gradually increase the time. Remember to CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN before starting any physical exercise program, especially if you are at risk of cardiovascular problems.
Controllable factors – not genetics Although it is quite a challenge to give a direct answer to the question of what causes diabetes, there is enough evidence to avoid putting the blame on our genetic make-up. The answer has to do with a set of related and controllable health practices and behaviors. There are many type 2 diabetics (this author included) who have developed and maintained non-diabetic health profiles for many years without the use of drug medication or insulin, by simply modifying their diet, getting regular exercise, proper sleep (rest), and managing their response to stress.