A recent study has found that there is an additional obstacle in obtaining good health for obese individuals, as well as type 2 diabetics, in that these conditions lead to the production of a certain protein that inhibits muscle growth. This troubling mechanism also appears to be a strong link between pre-diabetes and full-blown type 2 diabetes.
The muscle blocking protein is known as myostatin. Myostatin is produced within the muscles, but has the effect of limiting further muscle growth in those areas, regardless of physical activity. Past research has shown that high myostatin levels occur alongside starvation, as well as other “muscle-wasting” conditions, such as AIDS. From a natural standpoint, the reason high myostatin levels are associated with starvation is because having large muscle mass leads to more rapid starvation, because the muscles require more calories. It’s believed by the researchers that the pre-diabetic condition, insulin resistance, which is commonly found in obese individuals and is a prime characteristic of type 2 diabetes as well, produces similar mechanisms in the body to those of starvation, accounting for the following findings.
The current study has found that obese and type 2 diabetic individuals produce abnormally large amounts of myostatin, creating an extra challenge when attempting to change fat to muscle through necessary exercise. This is particularly dangerous for diabetics, who need to control their blood sugar levels in order to limit the damage created by the disease. Says lead author Dr. Dustin Hittel, “the body reverses muscle production using myostatin. This is particularly worrisome because losing muscle mass further erodes your ability to control your blood sugar with exercise.”
It’s also noted that for insulin-resistant pre-diabetics, obese or not, losing muscle mass is one of the primary stages in the development of full type 2 diabetes. While it is not known whether this lack of muscle mass is directly a major cause for type 2 diabetes, the observation of diminishing muscle mass for pre-diabetics should further motivate a healthier lifestyle to try and hold off the dangerous disease.
Source: Defeat Diabetes Foundation: Hittel, Dustin. McSwiney, Don. Diabetes news release. February 2009.