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Diabetes: The Vicious Cycle


Diabetes is one of the most prevalent chronic conditions globally. According to statistics from WHO, a whopping 422 million people suffer from diabetes worldwide. Studies show that public awareness of the lifestyle choices and risk factors of this common disease are at an all-time high. Due to its prevalence however, diabetes and prediabetes are also often normalised despite its malignant potential to our most vital organs.

The liver plays a key role in regulating glucose and lipid metabolism. When there is an excess of glucose in the bloodstream, these are stored in the liver for later use. In individuals with fatty liver however, the liver is unable to store glucose, and this exacerbates insulin resistance, worsening type 2 diabetes. Studies have shown that this bi-directional relationship leading from fatty liver to type 2 diabetes and back to the liver causes a vicious cycle that results in the progression of both diabetes and progressive liver disease. It is thus crucial for diabetic individuals to monitor their liver for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a condition that affects almost half of the population with type 2 diabetes.

The endocrine function is one of the main functions of the pancreas – that is, the production of insulin. When pancreas function deteriorates, B-cells in the pancreas may fail and not be able to produce enough insulin to block glucose out of the bloodstream, resulting in high blood sugar. In a reverse causality, studies have also found individuals with type 2 diabetes to be twice as likely to develop pancreatic malignancy.

Diabetes is one of the leading causes of kidney disease. Almost one-third of diabetic individuals develop diabetic nephropathy (kidney disease) due to clogged kidney vessels from high sugar levels in the blood. Over time, high sugar levels in the blood damage the delicate filtering units in the kidneys, leading to diabetic nephropathy and increased risk of other kidney problems.

Given the bi-directional relationship between diabetes and our vital organs, one can better manage diabetes by paying more attention to liver, pancreas and kidney health. For a start, getting to a healthy weight and decreasing liver and pancreas fat is shown to reduce diabetic symptoms significantly. When it comes to managing diabetes, we strongly recommend opting for solutions that provide comprehensive support not just in lowering blood glucose but one that offers protection against diabetes-induced impairments to the organs.


Loria, P., Lonardo, A., & Anania, F. (2013). Liver and diabetes. A vicious circle. Hepatology Research, 43(1), 51–64.

O’Donnell, E. (2019, March 6). The Hidden Risk of Liver Disease from Diabetes. WebMD.

Salvatore, T., Marfella, R., Rizzo, M. R., & Sasso, F. C. (2015). Pancreatic cancer and diabetes: A two-way relationship in the perspective of diabetologist. International Journal of Surgery, 21, S72–S77.

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