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There is a subset of people always committed to blaming diabetes on sugar consumption alone.
The newest metabolic villain these days in fructose.
But there are other more important things to consider.
The most important thing to consider is the truth about polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs).
Scientists know that these are harmful to the metabolism, it’s not news.
They discovered the diabetic effect back in the 1960s.
This study compares a high-PUFA diet directly to a high-sugar diet in mice.
And it conclusively shows that PUFA causes diabetes — not sugar.
Researchers used three groups of mice, one for control received a high-starch diet.
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Then there was a group that received a high-sugar diet and one received a high-fat diet of nuts and seeds.
In case you’re curious about what “spiny mice” are — they look like this.
They don’t have real spines, just really bristly hair.
But the study found:
There was virtually no adipose tissue gain on the sucrose-rich regimen. In contrast, the fat-rich seed diet resulted in marked weight gain, impaired glucose tolerance and moderate hyperinsulinemia.
You might wonder if the rats eating the PUFA-rich seeds ate more calories than the other groups?
They did not.
The sucrose-rich mice ate 14.0 kilocalories per week while the fat-rich diet ate 14.3 kilocalories per week.
At the end of the study, the sucrose-fed mice weighed even less than the control group (high-starch).
And the PUFA-fed mice weighed the MOST of the three groups.
The weighed nearly TWICE as much.
The PUFA-fed mice also had a higher serum glucose and insulin levels.
It may seem like a paradox — that higher sugar intake didn’t lead to higher blood sugar and insulin levels, but that higher fat did.
But it’s true — there’s even a name for it — The Randle Effect.
The term was coined in the ’60s — more than 50 years ago.
And yet — doctors still think it’s better to put patients on low-fat, low-sugar diets to fix blood sugar.
They advise patients away from saturated fats and sugars, the stuff our body knows how to handle.
And they encourage unsaturated fats like vegetable oils as so-called healthier options.
But the wrong fatty acids actively cause insulin resistance, increase blood glucose levels, and cause weight gain.
They do this by indirectly damaging an enzyme necessary for glucose metabolism.
With this enzyme knocked-out, blood glucose increases because the body isn’t using it quickly enough.
Think of it like a backed-up assembly line — the problem isn’t all the work to be done, it’s the broken process.
In the study, researchers measured the mice levels of glucose metabolizing enzymes.
The sucrose-fed group had much higher levels of the enzyme than the control or the fat-fed mice.
This higher level equates to an increase in their sugar metabolism and is why these rats didn’t gain weight.
The sugar-fed mice simply could use energy faster than the PUFA mice.
Another thing that showed the higher metabolism in the sugar-fed mice was their body temperature.
The mean temperature on regular chow was 37.1°C, and on the fat-rich diet was 37.0°, whereas in spiny mice on the sucrose-rich diet it was 37.9°C.
In the absence of PUFA, the body uses more oxygen and converts more sugar into carbon dioxide.
Because it converts sugar to carbon dioxide faster, the body generates more heat.
And the researchers could see the increase in metabolism because of increased thyroid levels.
The body converted more of the storage T4 thyroid to the active T3 thyroid.
The sucrose-rich mice had approximately 45% more circulating thyroid hormone than the PUFA mice after 12 months.
It’s important to realize that the sucrose-fed mice ate — essentially they ate table sugar.
Sucrose is one-half glucose and one-half fructose.
It’s important to know that because studies show that sucrose metabolizes faster than either glucose or fructose alone.
A very interesting phenomenon noted is that when fructose and glucose are ingested together (including fructose-containing sucrose), the oxidation rates of the mixed sugars were faster than that of either one of them ingested alone at the same dosage.
With this study, researchers compared the sucrose-fed mice to the control mice (starch-fed).
They concluded that sucrose is the most easily metabolized compound.
Fructose fear-mongering comes from people trying to shift the blame.
Because of it, many people still believe that fructose-rich fruit can cause diabetes.
But I think most of us know intuitively that this is simply not the case.
People and primates who eat a lot of fruit are nearly always skinny.
The truth is that Type II diabetes is largely a metabolic state caused by eating the wrong fats, and too much of it.
And this it’s reversible.
Fructose metabolism in humans – what isotopic tracer studies tell us
The Randle cycle revisited: a new head for an old hat