The Science Behind Type II Diabetes

September 17, 2019 0 By Bertrand Dibbert


JOHN ESSIGMANN: One of the
physiological scenarios that we teach, and
is probably very common in biochemistry courses,
has to do with diabetes. I’m diabetic, and my great
grandfather was diabetic. His daughter, my
grandmother was diabetic. Five of her six sons were
diabetic, one of whom was my father. So you see a very
genetic disease here. OK? That’s, in my case, type 2
diabetic, so adult onset. So my cells are
insulin-resistant. So if I eat a meal that has
carbohydrate or fat in it, my pancreas is
probably responding. My beta cells in my
pancreas are probably OK, but the insulin
just isn’t able– but producing insulin–
but the insulin just isn’t able to
signal my cells to be able to take up the glucose. As a consequence, I’m
somewhat in a technical state of starvation. My glycogen reserves are
therefore smaller than yours, and I can tell this in times. For example, when I
first became diabetic, I loved mountain climbing
and hiking and so on, and I noticed that
I would go out. And I’d be totally exhausted
for the first 10 minutes or so, and that’s because I have
very small glycogen reserves. What I had to do is
this metabolic switch over to booting up oxidative
metabolism of fats. That all had to be
turned on, and it’s hard. It’s a hard transition,
but once it got going, as long as I stay
aerobic, in other words, I don’t go so fast that I go
anaerobic, I can climb forever. Because if I stay aerobic, I’ve
got plenty of fat reserves. In fact, it’s probably a good
thing that I’m burning them. So I’m just a little
bit different. I like to teach
this stuff in 5.07, in part because well there’s
probably not that many kids in the class, of 100, 130, or
so, students would be diabetic, but it’s about 6% to 8% of the
population in the United States right now. So everybody knows
someone who is diabetic, or maybe your parents are,
and what are the risk factors? So we teach that.