In February 2016, as I prepared to leave Bogotá, Colombia, after 3 weeks of studying Spanish, a few thoughts related to type 2 diabetes came to mind. Bogotá is a burgeoning city, growing leaps and bounds, transitioning from “a feudal society” (to quote the husband of my teacher) to a modern, invigorating, stimulating place. I loved it, and it’s exciting to see the changes coming about, but also shocking to see the stark contrasts. For grounding and perspective, the husband reminded me that women only gained the right to vote in 1957.
For me personally the most surprising discovery was that the brand new, modern apartment I rented, that had multiple USB connections in every room, has no central heat! Further, there is no hot water in the kitchen – only in the bathroom, supplied by an electric in-line hot water heater for the sink and shower.
At first, I thought that this was a factor of the neighborhood (services are taxed by “estrado”). This method of taxing services by socio-economic status is designed to give preference (“subsidies”) to the less advantaged. Unfortunately, it also results in stagnation and immobility by stigmatizing the poorer neighborhoods.
Later, I discovered that the modern, well-designed apartment of my teacher and her husband (both PhD’s teaching at the National University) also has no central heating and no hot water in the kitchen. ¡Qué sorpresa! They live in an upscale neighborhood in the northern reaches of the city. The “no heat” explanation relates in part to the climate. Bogotá has a moderate climate year-round. It is located close to the equator but at a very high elevation (8,675 feet or 2,644 meters), so temperatures are constant all year round. It never snows.
So this partially explains the central heating issue, but not the lack of kitchen hot water. “How do you wash dishes,” I asked the husband as he did them. “I scrub them well,” he said. Does that give you perspective?
Type 2 diabetes is similarly just emerging from the dark ages. One hundred and fifty years ago type 2 diabetes was understood as a dietary disease (see Retrospective #1 re: French physiologist Claude Bernard and English undertaker William Banting). It was known as a disease of excessive consumption of carbohydrates and was treated by reducing carbohydrates in the diet. Then, in 1921, Frederick Banting (bizarrely, a distant relation!) discovered how to make insulin in the lab, and since then type 2 diabetes has been treated like type 1 diabetes, a disease of too little insulin.
When our insulin receptor cells resist the uptake of glucose, i.e. they express Insulin Resistance (IR), the pancreas produces more insulin until it eventually wears out. Doctors hasten this catastrophic failure of the pancreas by adding pharmaceuticals, like sulfonylureas (Micronase, glyburide, glipizide, et al.) to push the pancreas to exhaustion. Then, the doctors add injected insulin to the patient’s regimen. This medieval practice, not unlike “bleeding the patient,” is still the Standard of Care of the medical establishment and their government overseers in the United States.
Until recently. We are finally beginning to see a Renaissance. Increasingly type 2 diabetes is being understood again as a disease of Insulin Resistance, resulting in too much insulin. The goal in treating type 2 diabetes should be not only to lower the glucose level in the blood (by diet instead of drugs), but also to lower the insulin level in the blood.
This will occur, and will only occur, when the glucose level lowers, because that is how the body “knows” that it needs to begin to burn fat for fuel (triglycerides, in the form of body fat stored around the “trunk,”) to maintain energy balance and a fully active metabolism. The body, including heart and brain, loves these fatty acids and the ketone bodies that are produced as a side effect of lipolysis (the break-down of triglycerides to fatty acids).
And, if you’re interested, THIS IS ALSO BEST WAY TO LOSE WEIGHT, EASILY AND WITHOUT EVER FEELING HUNGRY.
Bogotá is rapidly transforming itself. ¡Ojalá que el mundo de los diabéticos se haga lo mismo! Y pronto.