The metabolic theory states that the root cause of cancer is a defect in mitochondrial energy production or ‘an irreversible injuring in respiration’91. Once the cells ability to produce energy is compromised, this is hypothesised to lead to the subsequent accumulation of changes that make the cell cancerous92. A key change is decreased mitochondrial glucose metabolism in cancer cells. Cancer cells ferment glucose to lactate (which happens outside of the mitochondria) at a much higher rate than normal cells93, in a change called ‘The Warburg Effect.’ This implicates damage to the mitochondria and failure in energy production as a central process of cancer progression.
Cinnamon supplements may modestly improve blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes whose blood sugar is not well controlled with medication. In addition, one small study found that a branded cinnamon extract reduced fasting blood sugar by an average of about 10 mg/dL in prediabetic men and women with metabolic syndrome. Keep in mind, however, that only certain varieties of cinnamon have been shown to have this effect, and long-term safety studies have not been conducted.
The brain is different as it is dependent on carbohydrates as a fuel source. This is because fats cannot easily cross the blood-brain barrier. The inability to make use of energy within fat poses a problem during periods where there is limited carbohydrate in the diet. If blood glucose levels fall to low, brain function declines. Relatively little energy is stored as carbohydrate (2,000 kCal) compared to fat (150,000 kCal). The body's store of carbohydrates runs out with a few days of carbohydrate restriction. Once glycogen is depleted, a cascade of hormonal signals causes the body to increase the release of stored fats (from adipose tissue). Signals include the fall in blood insulin, rise in a hormone called glucagon and an increase in cortisol (stress hormone) 1. The increase in blood fatty acids is a key trigger for ketone production (ketogenesis). Unlike fats, ketones are readily used as a fuel in the brain. Fatty acids are converted into ketone bodies in the liver, and ketones can provide up to 60% of the brain's energy requirements during starvation 2. The graph below shows how BHB (black triangles) builds up in the blood over many days until it reaches a level of around 6 mM.
White mulberry (Moruns alba or Morus indica) has been traditionally used in Asia to help treat type 2 diabetes, and there is some preliminary evidence to support this use. Mulberry leaf extract (species not given) may lessen increases in blood sugar after ingestion of table sugar in healthy people and people with type 2 diabetes (Mudra, Diabetes Care 2007). Among people with type 2 diabetes, taking 1 gram of powdered white mulberry leaf three times daily (after breakfast, lunch and dinner) for four weeks was found to lower fasting blood sugar by 27%, while taking 5 mg of the anti-diabetes drug glibenclamide lowered fasting blood sugar by only 8% (Andallu, Clin Chim Acta 2001).
Forget Atkins and Paleo — the new low-carb diet du jour is called keto, as in ketogenic. Although there are many similarities between these diets, a keto diet is all about restricting carbohydrates and increasing healthy fats. The goal is to force your body’s metabolism into ketosis, which means it burns fat instead of glucose — because without carbs, glucose isn’t readily available.
Like fiber and protein, fat buffers blood sugar spikes. In fact, unsaturated fats have been specifically linked to improved insulin resistance. Just be sure to avoid refined fats, including trans fats and processed vegetable oils, like corn, soybean, and safflower oils, which can be pro-inflammatory. Sources of quality fats to consider adding to your diet include: nuts, olive oil, ghee, coconut oil, avocado, and fatty fish like salmon.
264. Jing E., Emanuelli B., Hirschey M. D., et al. Sirtuin-3 (Sirt3) regulates skeletal muscle metabolism and insulin signaling via altered mitochondrial oxidation and reactive oxygen species production. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2011;108(35):14608–14613. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1111308108. [PMC free article] [PubMed] [CrossRef] [Google Scholar]