We think of type 2 diabetes as a disease characterised by high levels of sugar in the blood and a lack of response by our body to insulin. But there is so much more to it than that.
People with type 2 diabetes are at increased risk of high blood pressure, infections, kidney and nerve damage, and high cholesterol. In fact, diabetes can impact on almost every part of the body, and scientists are still trying to decipher the “How?” and “Why?” of this fact.
Researchers collaborating through several universities in Canada may have solved a small piece of the puzzle. They analysed genes present in the intestine of 18 people; all obese, but only nine had type 2 diabetes. They identified 36 genes involved in intestinal functions such as digestion, immunity and cholesterol metabolism. Out of these 36, eight were significantly associated with inflammation and oxidative stress, and all eight showed increased sensitivity in those with diabetes.
This increased sensitivity correlated with inefficient lipid (cholesterol and fat) metabolism in the intestine. Could this be the reason why people with type 2 diabetes show a spike in cholesterol levels following a meal? Further studies are needed but this investigation identified that diabetes seems to actually change the way our intestine functions.