By Ryan Squire

Cardiodiabesity Visceral adipose tissue or VAT fat was the target of Sharon Himmelstein's opening remarks, and for good reason: VAT fat releases chemicals that enter the liver and lead to diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Himmelstein explained that the amount of VAT is an indicator for diabetes.

The leading reasons for the spike in VAT in the world population is the change in eating habits over the last few decades. Convenience, advertising, erratic eating, and over eating have lead to VAT levels to shoot up.

Sharon explained that the problem with this visceral adipose tissue is that these dysfunctional fat cells fill other fat cells in the body triggering many biological reactions, which cause disruptions in organs throughout the body. As a person becomes viscerally overweight, insulin levels shoot up to compensate for the fatty tissue deposits. High insulin levels, even without the presence of diabetes, cause problems with: glucose metabolism, gout, inflammation and cardiovascular disfunction. High insulin levels also break down pancreatic tissue leading to pre-diabetes and diabetes.  Sharon said that VAT is even leading to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, caused by visceral fat as it accumulates in the liver and often leading to cirrhosis.

There is hope. Sharon shared that losing 5-10% of your body weight is the single most important thing to do as visceral adipose is the first fat to be expelled from the body. Sharon went on to say losing 5-10% of body weight mobilizes a loss of 30-40% of visceral fat and this modest weight loss also enhances insulin sensitivity.

The next most important lifestyle change is nutrition. Sugary beverages are the leading source of added sugar in the diet and those calories don't fill you up, so while you ingest the calories, you never feel full. The American Diabetes Association and Sharon offer the following recommendations for the prevention of diabetes:

  • Lose 5-10% of body weight
  • Increase physical activity to at least 150 minutes per week of moderately intense activity
  • Increase fiber average intake from the average 12/15 grams per day to the recommended daily intake of 28 grams per day (based on 2000 calorie diet)
  • Three plus servings of whole grains
  • Five plus servings of fruit and vegetables

Sharon went on to say that high fiber is so important in the prevention of diabetes because it helps control weight, prevent obesity, slows glucose absorption, and helps regulate glucose. Some of the best sources of dietary fiber are whole grains, wheat germ, bran, corn, popcorn, brown and wild rice, vegetables, fruits (not juice), peas, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, soy and baked potato with the skin. suggests that people balance calories, enjoy food and eat less, make half of your plate fruits and vegetables, switch to fat-free or low-fat milk, make half your grains whole grains and drink water instead of sugary drinks.

To learn more about the best kinds of food for the prevention and treatment of diabetes, Sharon recommends "Volumetrics" (Barbara rolls and Robert A. Barnett).