When it comes to what we eat, it feels difficult to know who to believe. One article claims one thing, and the next claims another.
Physicist Dr. Michael Greger is also the author of the health and nutrition book ‘How Not To Die’, which instantly became a New York Times Best Seller. The book has become something of a holy grail within the plant based community, with a wealth of information on how switching to a plant based diet can be beneficial to human health.
We’re excited to bring you Dr. Greger’s thoughts each issue to dispel confusion over many of the misnomers floating around, so that you can feel confident when explaining your plant based diet to friends, family and colleagues.
First up is type two diabetes.
After the age of about 20, we may have all the insulin-producing beta cells we’re ever going to get. Beta cells are the cells inside the pancreas that produce, store and release insulin — the hormone which helps regulate sugar levels in the blood. So if we lose these beta cells, we may lose them for good.
We know that these crucial beta cells may be killed by excessive fat consumption. If you expose the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas to fat in vitro, they suck it up and then start dying off. As the fat starts to breakdown, products of this process interfere with the function of beta cells and this ultimately leads to beta cell death. Therefore, chronic increases in blood fat levels can be harmful to our beta cells, insulin production and pancreas.
It’s not just any fat; it’s saturated fat. Fats in olives, nuts, and avocados provides a slight increase in a protein which damages beta cells, but saturated fat really elevates this protein leading to significant beta cell death.
Simply, saturated fats are harmful to beta cells.
Bad cholesterol (LDL) can also cause beta cell death as a result of the formation of free radicals — unpaired electrons in the body associated with the development of cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
You can read Dr Greger’s column in full in the October issue of PlantBased.