Type 2 diabetic inflammation connects insulin resistance to an immune reaction gone haywire. If inflammation leads to type 2 diabetes, the cure may lie in fighting inflammation.
There is evidence that an immune response similar to what leads to type 1 diabetes is also causing insulin resistance, the condition of cells refusing insulin's help.
T-cells are supposed
to attack and destroy enemies inside your body, but sometimes they attack and kill beta cells in
the pancreas. Nobody knows what causes this autoimmune reaction.
It takes a long time, even years, but the T-cells do not stop until the insulin producing beta cells are dead.
The resulting condition is called type 1 diabetes, where your body makes no insulin.
That destructive autoimmune response is only one of the ways to become a
type 1 diabetic, but it is often the cause when type 1 shows up in adults.
Studies of type 2 diabetic inflammation look for evidence of inflammatory reactions, and they usually find it. Some researchers think obesity causes inflammation, but others say it is the inflammation that comes first.
Diabetes doctors know that there is a chronic low-level inflammation that appears along with obesity. Those who have both obesity and that inflammatory marker usually have insulin resistance as well.
So they thought obesity was causing both. The problem is that a percentage of people are obese without the inflammation.
Those people do not develop insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes. That leads to another conclusion. Perhaps obesity does not cause the inflammation or type 2 diabetes.
That leaves type 2 diabetic inflammation as a cause, and the question becomes this. Does inflammation and its immune response come before prediabetes and type 2 diabetes?
An inflammatory response is the action of your immune system to defend your body. White blood cells are specialized attackers that come from your bone marrow.
You can see white blood cells when pus forms over a splinter. Some cells are in your lymph glands and others are in your blood stream.
Macrophages start out in bone marrow, and they are the white blood cells that circulate with red blood cells in your blood vessels.
For some reason they are activated and go to the adipose (fat) and liver cells where they release cytokines.
Cytokines cause liver, muscle and fat cells to resist insulin. What causes macrophages to do this? That's still a mystery.
No cause for autoimmune disease has been proven. But it was those cytokines in the fat cells that made researchers think obesity was the cause of the insulin resistance.
New research is showing that obesity without inflammation does exist. Obese people who have no inflammatory response have no type 2 diabetes, no insulin resistance.
Also, there are people who are not overweight and yet develop type 2 diabetes as an inflammatory response.
Then there is the problem of hyperinsulinemia that comes from insulin resistance leading to the build up of insulin in your blood.
That causes more type 2 diabetic inflammation. There is also the fact that insulin promotes weight gain because it encourages fat deposits.
One conclusion of all this is that worsening obesity may be a result or side effect of the inflammatory responses that lead to insulin resistance.
Another conclusion is that understanding the inflammatory responses in type 1 and type 2 diabetics might lead to prevention. Could stopping type 2 diabetic inflammation cure the disease?
They are a long way from curing diabetes. But you do not have to wait for them. Look at the things you can do right now.
There is also an anti-inflammatory diet that looks like the food pyramid put out by the FDA. It has similar foods but in a different order.
The diet begins wide at the bottom with 6-10 servings a day of low glycemic vegetables. The next level up has fish 1-3 servings daily. Above that is lean meat 1-2 servings. Then come the high glycemic fruits, 1-2 servings a day.
As the pyramid narrows there is 1 serving from a group that contains dairy, whole grain, brown rice, and high glycemic fruits and vegetables.
It also asks for 2 servings of olive oil and 1 serving of nuts and seeds. At the narrow top it suggests you severely restrict refined grain (like white flour), saturated fats, sugar and alcohol.
This anti-inflammatory food pyramid would work really well for a type 2 diabetic, and it offers a simple way to know what and how much to eat for reducing inflammation. It will also reduce blood sugar and insulin levels.
There is overwhelming proof that what we eat affects our immune responses. So a new way of eating that avoids inflammation-causing foods is a great idea.
Staying active will improve your chance to dodge complications. It will also improve your insulin resistance.
This is not about doing everything perfectly. It is not about living forever.
It is about slow and permanent changes that improve your life with diabetes or prevent you from becoming diabetic.
It is about being able to do the things you want to do and being with the people you love as long as you can.
I'm hoping the best for you.