A study published Wednesday in the Journal of Translational Medicine proves that obesity and Type 2 diabetes are even more closely linked to high calorie diets than we thought. According to the findings of the research, gorging and overeating can tip your body into a pre-diabetic state in as little as a week.
Dr. Guenther Boden and Dr. Salim Merali of the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolomics Facility at the Temple University School of Medicine led the small research experiment, which required six men to consume 6,000 calories per day of the typical American diet for one week. The participants were in the normal to overweight weight range as determined by BMI calculations prior to the study. During the week long binge, consisting of meal breakdowns of ~50 percent carbs, ~35 percent fat, and ~15 percent protein, the participants were not allowed to engage in any physical activity to burn the calories off.
So what happened when their bodies were faced with processing a whopping 42,000 calories (as opposed to the typical week long allowance of 14,000 based on a 2,000-calorie diet)? The men gained an average of eight pounds and each reached a state of metabolic insulin resistance within two days of beginning the experiment. According to the National Institute of Diabetes amd Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), insulin resistance is a condition in which the body produces insulin but does not use it effectively. When people have insulin resistance, glucose builds up in the blood instead of being absorbed by the cells, leading to type 2 diabetes or prediabetes. "We ... believe that oxidative stress likely preceded the development of insulin resistance, and that oxidative stress, not inflammatory or [endoplasmic reticulum] stress, was the initial event that occurred after overnutrition," the authors concluded.
Translation: within 48 hours of overeating with little to no exercise (sounds a lot like some people's definition of a weekend), the men had completely compromised their metabolism and ability to stabilize their blood sugars. "The results of this study are valuable considering so many Americans tend to take in excessive amounts of calories on a daily basis," said Dana Angelo White, a dietitian and professor of sports medicine at Quinnipiac University in a report from WebMD.
That means it doesn't just require a total binge to compromise your metabolism, but slight, constant overeating can produce the same unhealthy effects. A study published in the journal Diabetes Care in 2014 (and cited in Boden's research) increased the caloric intake of 29 healthy men and women by 40 percent for eight weeks, which resulted in an 18 percent increased insulin resistance.
Similarly, a 2012 study in the PLOS One journal found an eight percent decrease in healthy insulin-stimulated glucose uptake after overfeeding 40 healthy men and women by 1,040 calories for 28 days.
All the studies conclude that overeating, whether it's binging or just slightly overindulging often, can take a big toll.
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Besides keeping your portion sizes in check, here are a few other ways you can prevent diabetes and insulin resistance:
Increase Vitamin D intake
According to the National Institutes of Health, Vitamin D studies show a link between people’s ability to maintain healthy blood glucose levels and having enough vitamin D in their blood. Fish oils, trout, salmon, cheese, eggs, and mushrooms are all gold sources of Vitamin D.
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Increase Your Activity
NIDDK studies show that insulin resistance goes down when you increase how much you move throughout the day. Try increasing your time spent walking for 30 minutes, five days per week (that's only five 6-minute walks each day at work).
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Keep Your Waist in Check
A waist measurement of 40 inches or more for men is linked to insulin resistance and increases a person’s risk for Type 2 diabetes. This is true even if a person’s BMI falls within the normal range, according to NIH.
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