Let’s be honest, no one wants to be fat. While the media tends to praise the bone thin, and bash the ones with more to love due to aesthetics, there are more important reasons why being overweight is considered bleak (click here for a lovely list put together by WebMD). On the list, one of the most preventable diseases due to obesity in my opinion is Type II Diabetes. I recently read an an interesting article titled Obesity Mediates the Association between Mediterranean Diet Consumption and Insulin Resistance and Inflammation in US Adults published February 7th, 2017 in the Journal of Nutrition. It’s about how body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC), and consuming a Mediterranean diet mediate the markers of insulin resistance, a.k.a whether the fat around ones stomach or overall obesity paired with consuming a Mediterranean diet triggers insulin resistance or Diabetes Mellitus.
According to the American Diabetes Association, Type II Diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. This disease is essentially the inability of ones body to take sugar (glucose) out of the blood stream due to defective insulin receptors. The diagram below is a representation of how muscle and/or fat cells take glucose from the blood. The pink portion of the cell represents the cell membrane. In a normal functioning muscle or fat cell, insulin (the purple triangles) bind to insulin receptors (the green things), which trigger the stimulation of downstream proteins (Glut-4 and Glucose transporters) to allow glucose (the light blue hexagons) to enter the cell to be metabolized and used for energy. If insulin cannot bind to insulin receptors, then glucose will not be able to enter the cell, and consequently cause dangerously high levels of sugar to develop in the blood.
The research team who published the article mentioned above, understood that the Mediterranean diet (a diet composed of mainly consuming large quantities of fruits, vegetables, olive oils and whole grains, and smaller quantities of animal protein and unhealthy fats) has proven to lower cardiometabolic risk (a disease that essentially enhances the risk of diabetes due to insulin resistance) due to consequent weight loss. However, the team wanted to see if there is a direct link between insulin resistance and the amount of abdominal fat one has, or if insulin resistance is more-so modified or attenuated by general obesity, since, according to a study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, abdominal fat has been proven to affect metabolic disturbance more than general obesity.
So what did they do? I’m not going to bore you with every single little detail, but I think it’s important to understand how Park et al, derived their conclusion. Basically, they took data from 4700 US adults ranging from age 20-90 with no prior diagnosis of diseases such as cancer, diabetes or cardiovascular disease. The researchers had each participant log the types of foods they consumed during the study. A scoring method was used to assess the intensity of the individuals Mediterranean diet, scoring foods that pertained to the diet from 0-5, and negatively scoring foods that did not fit the diet. Potatoes were excluded from the study due to the variety of ways they can be prepared. Once each participant received a Med-Diet score, researchers measured each participants markers of insulin resistance i.e. glucose, insulin, glycated hemoglobin, fibrinogen, homocysteine, and lipoprotein a (definitions linked), and then used the statistical analysis software, SAS, to produce a linear regression curve. They compared the tertiles (any two points of an ordered distribution that split the graph into thirds) of the graph to draw conclusions.
What they found was interesting. They concluded that it was more-so the presence of abdominal adipose tissue that enhanced insulin resistance, a key characteristic in Diabetes Mellitus, opposed to overall BMI. This is because the adipose tissue in the abdominal region is expanded, and releases what are known as free fatty acids. According to PubMed, free fatty acids inhibit glucose intake from certain muscle cells, aka cause insulin resistance. Why is this relevant? Well because this finding adds to previously proven theories that cohesion to a Mediterranean diet improves ones health. The researchers also discuses previous findings explaining that those on a Mediterranean diet consume high amounts of healthy fats, high amounts of magnesium, and dietary fiber, which all positively effect the way our bodies metabolise glucose. Also, according to the American Journal of Medicine, it is clinically proven that a Mediterranean diet helps you lose weight.
I think it’s time to open our eyes, and realize that this isn’t a theory or some far fetched idea. It has been scientifically proven that consuming fruits, veggies, healthy fats, and whole grains is beneficial to your health, and can even help prevent a disease that, according to the Centers for Disease Control, 29 million people in America have. Sounds a lot like a vegan diet can have similar benefits doesn’t it?
*For copywriter purposes, I do not own the “Featured Image” for this article. It is from the link provided.