Diabetes And Your Liver

Dr Sandra Cabot is joined by naturopath Margaret Jasinska in this podcast to discuss how diabetes and liver issues, such as fatty liver, often go hand in hand with one predisposing to the other. The liver plays an important role in blood sugar control. So if your liver is fatty, you are more likely to develop insulin resistance or diabetes, as well as weight gain. A healthy liver is key to healthy glucose metabolism. So if you want to reduce your risk of diabetes, you need to get your liver functioning efficiently.

Listen to this podcast and leave a comment below if you have any questions.

DR CABOT: Hello. My name’s Dr Sandra Cabot and I’m joined today by naturopath and author Margaret Jasinska.

MARGARET: Hi, Dr Cabot! Thanks for having me on to discuss this important topic.

DR CABOT: Yes. It’s a really interesting one. Diabetes and your liver. So many people with diabetes never really think about their liver. They don’t pay much thought because they don’t understand how important the liver is to the control of their blood sugar.

MARGARET: Yes. And their liver might not be giving them specific symptoms or not symptoms that they think are attributed to the liver. But they are, in fact.

DR CABOT: That’s right! And the liver’s so important for blood sugar control. If you have a fatty liver, then you’re likely to be insulin resistant, which means the insulin is not able to control your blood sugar levels. And that will make your blood sugar very, very unstable. It’ll tend to go up and down. You’ll feel tired and it’ll be much harder to get control of your blood sugar levels. And this will pertain even if you are not diagnosed a diabetic. You’ll just feel tired.

MARGARET: Yes. And you don’t have to be overweight to have this problem either. Well, you don’t have to be overweight to have a fatty liver. And you don’t have to be overweight to have type 2 diabetes. And the majority of type 2 diabetics do have a fatty liver, even ones that look slim.

DR CABOT: Yes. And the other interesting thing, if you have a fatty liver, there’s not enough room inside the liver to store glucose in the form of glycogen. And glycogen is very important because normally, when your blood sugar level drops, your liver will release extra glucose into the bloodstream from the glycogen stores. And that maintains a nice, stable level of blood sugar. And it makes it much easier for you to stick to a healthy eating plan.

MARGARET: Yes, because you won’t get the energy crash or the cravings and hunger in the afternoon. Because if your blood sugar gets low, then your liver will help you out by releasing some glucose into your bloodstream. But people with a fatty liver, they can run out of fuel, like run out of glucose. And then be exhausted or irritable or ravenous and have strong sugar cravings in the afternoon.

DR CABOT: That’s right. So, if you’re getting that mid afternoon or midmorning slump, where you’ve got to have sugar or bread or something high in carbs, it could be just your fatty liver not being able to release the glucose from the glycogen. And once you improve your liver function, that goes away. Wonderful!

The other thing, a healthy liver is able to manufacture glucose from the protein and fat in your diet. So, you don’t really need to eat a lot of carbohydrate, particularly if you’re trying to lose weight. Now, if you have a sluggish or fatty liver, it won’t be so effective at manufacturing glucose from the protein and fat in your diet.

So, we’ve covered 3 reasons why a sluggish or fatty liver will make it very hard for you to control diabetes or prediabetes, and also much harder for you to lose weight.

MARGARET: Yeah. And make it harder for you to stick to a healthy eating plan. And make it harder for you to stick to an exercise program because it’s hard to do that when you’re feeling exhausted and ravenous.

DR CABOT: Yes. And a lot of people have what we call prediabetes. So, they’re not clinically diabetic, as far as a diagnosis goes, but they have impaired glucose metabolism. And the Centers for Disease Control have estimated that one in three Americans have blood sugar levels that are too high and are prediabetic. So, that’s a lot of people, isn’t it?

MARGARET: Yes. And most of them won’t know it because they’re not… a lot of people don’t go to their doctor for an annual check-up. Many people just don’t have blood tests. They may not have access or able to afford medical care.

DR CABOT: That’s right. So, if you have a fasting blood glucose or blood sugar level, same thing, done and it is between 100 to 125 milligrams per deciliter, then that is considered prediabetes. But a lot of people are told, “Well, your blood sugar is not diabetic but you have to be careful.” But really, you really need to get it below 90 to be safe. And to do that, you need a healthy liver. So, we’re trying to make people with prediabetes more aware of the importance of a healthy liver, as well. Very important.

And you can also have another test called an A1C, and that shows you the average level of sugar in your blood over 3 months. It’s a very good test, and that should really be below 5.7 to be ideal. If it’s between 5.7 to 6.4%, it can be considered prediabetes.

So, the good news is, by improving your liver, you can reverse this trend to becoming a diabetic.

MARGARET: Absolutely!

DR CABOT: So, by improving your diet with more leafy greens, more salads, more protein. Taking a good liver formula. Perhaps doing a little bit of raw vegetable juicing. Those things can really make a difference to your liver. If you’ve been exposed to toxic chemicals, or been drinking too much alcohol, take some N-Acetyl Cysteine. That’s also very helpful for improving liver function and therefore preventing diabetes.

So, I hope you’ve enjoyed the podcast. I certainly have! And thank you Margaret!

MARGARET: And thank you everybody for listening.