Thursday, November 17, 2005

Insulin Resistance in your Cells?

MedPage Today reported yesterday on new findings from researchers at Yale - Insulin Resistance may be an inherited condition due to reduced mitochondrial activity in muscle cells in the children of those with Type II Diabetes.

That, the researchers said, can lead to insulin resistance even when the progeny are young, lean, and have normal glucose levels.

The finding adds to the weight of evidence suggesting that mitochondrial dysfunction in insulin-resistance pathways may play a major role in the development of type 2 diabetes, suggested endocrinologist Gerald I. Shulman, M.D., Ph.D., a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator at Yale and colleagues at Children's Hospital Boston.

The researchers believe these new findings may provide new insights into possible defects that may be responsible or contribute to the development of Type II Diabetes.

"These data support the hypothesis that reductions in mitochondrial content are at least in part responsible for the reduced mitochondrial activity that has previously been described in insulin-resistant offspring."

The changes they detected were independent of changes in other key transcriptional factors and co-regulators of mitochondrial development, they added.

In my mind, this type of research is so important - it underscores the critical need for a nutrient-dense, "real food" diet, especially in pregnant women. From well before we are born until the day we die, our nutrient requirements are fixed - we need essential nutrients to grow, develop, thrive, repair and build cells - without them we are functioning at a less than optimal level and when one is pregnant and not eating a nutrient-dense diet, providing less of the critical "building blocks" for the development of the fetus.

Over time, research such as this, is going to lead to radical changes in our dietary recommendations as our understanding grows even more. Throughout various periods in our life our nutrient requirements change - sometimes we need more fat, sometimes we need more protein - and as we hone in on these changing requirements, our dietary recommendations will develop to be more individualized than we see today.

I also believe that this type of research is going to contribute to the growing area of nutrition based on genetics - perhaps in the future we will see a test of some sort that can provide details to an individual about their genetic predispositions so their diet is tailored to their individual needs from a genetic and cellular level? Ahh, what the future holds for us!

Of note, Dr. Shulman is scheduled to present research findings at the upcoming Nutritional and Metabolic Aspects of Carbohydrate Restriction conference in January about his research in the area of "Insulin Resistance and Inflammation."

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