If you are diabetic, overweight, or suffer from insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, or any of the other conditions conventional medicine associates with “elevated blood sugar,” I want to share a startling new discovery with you: Lowering your blood sugar may increase your risk of death.
These are the findings from an extraordinary new study that was recently published in The New England Journal of Medicine. This should have profound implications for the treatment of obesity, diabetes, and other related conditions but unfortunately, it probably won’t.
The ACCORD Study: Revolutionizing Our Understanding of Diabesity
In 2008, an extraordinary study was published in The New England Journal of Medicine. It is called the ACCORD study (1), and it is one of the most profound pieces of literature that exists regarding why conventional treatments for diabetes simply do not work and how they can actually lead to increased risk of death.
In the study 10,000 patients with diabetes were designated to receive intensive or regular therapy to lower blood sugar. These patients were monitored and their risks of heart attack, stroke, and death were evaluated. The patients who had their blood sugar lowered the most had a higher risk of death.
The patients who had their blood sugar lowered the most had a higher risk of death. How could this happen if, as we believe, elevated blood sugar is the cause of all the evils of diabetes? Why would lowering blood sugar lead to worse outcomes?
Amazingly, the study had to be stopped after three and a half years because it was evident that the aggressive blood sugar lowering led to more deaths and more heart attacks. This completely debunks the way conventional medicine understands and treats diabetes. It’s a revolutionary study. Yet for those of us who have been working to understand the real causes of diabesity, it isn’t all that surprising.
How could lowering blood sugar increase your risk of death?
The reason is simple: Elevated blood sugar is actually a symptom of underlying metabolic, physiologic, and biochemical processes that are out of balance … and lowering blood sugar with medications does not address the underlying issues that gave rise to the high blood sugar in the first place. This may surprise you, but many of the methods used to lower blood sugar such as insulin or oral hypoglycemic drugs actually make the problem worse by increasing insulin levels. The higher levels of insulin in the blood (hyperinsulinemia) cause systemic inflammation and hormonal balances in the body which increase your risk of developing many other chronic diseases.
Type 2 diabetes is a disease of too much, not too little, insulin. Insulin is the real driver of problems with diabesity. That means you don’t simply need more insulin in your blood to lower your blood sugar. Instead, what you need to do is treat the underlying causes that gave rise to the high blood sugar and insulin in the first place. The problem of insulin resistance must be addressed.
This leaves us with a final question: How can we address the fundamental underlying problem of our bodies resisting the effects of our own insulin?
Any hope we have for resolving this pandemic must use a new approach to the diagnosis and treatment of diabesity. That approach is called Functional Medicine.
(1) Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes Study Group, Gerstein HC, Miller ME, Byington RP, Goff DC Jr, Bigger JT, Buse JB, Cushman WC, Genuth S, Ismail-Beigi F, Grimm RH Jr, Probstfield JL, Simons-Morton DG, Friedewald WT. Effects of intensive glucose lowering in type 2 diabetes. N Engl J Med. 2008 Jun 12;358(24):2545-59.