Scientists Explain Link Between High Fat Diets and Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms

According to new research, scientists are finally beginning to understand the link between high-fat diets and type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is characterized by obesity, insulin resistance and overly active immune systems that result in high levels of inflammatory chemicals in the body.

For years, it was uncertain how these three characteristics were related but a new study has begun to connect the symptoms together.

University of North Carolina researchers say that saturated fatty acids, which are typically found in processed meats, baked goods and butter, can activate immune cells to produce an inflammatory protein called interleukin-1beta.

The inflammatory protein then acts on the tissues and organs in the body to turn off their response to insulin, making them insulin resistant, according to senior study co-author Jenny Y. Ting, PhD, William Kenan Rand Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology.

“As a result, activation of this pathway by fatty acid can lead to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes symptoms,” Ting said.

Unsaturated fatty acids, such as those in nuts and vegetable oil, do not produce the same effect.

The research was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association Mid-Atlantic Affiliate.

The study was published in Nature Immunology.