Diabetes and Dolphins

By Cindy Bishop
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They call him Flipper, Flipper, faster than lightning,
No one you see, is smarter than he,
And we know Flipper, lives in a world full of wonder,
Flying there under, under the sea!

I’m not sure when my dolphin love began. But, since I’m a product of the 60’s and 70’s, it could have started with Flipper on Sunday nights, or the first time I swam with dolphins (metaphorically) on The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau.

I suspect it doesn’t really matter. Like most humans, I possess an unexplainable respect and admiration for dolphins which probably has more to do with my suspicion that they possess human qualities we’re only beginning to understand.

Exciting new research suggests that dolphins (bottlenose dolphins to be exact), have what could be considered a form of type 2 diabetes . The fascinating part, beyond the fact that they would have diabetes at all, is their ability to flip an internal switch and turn it on or off when it serves them. It’s believed that this is an evolutionary adaptation in order to protect their big ol’ dolphin brains. Big, as in the second biggest brain next to ours – ratio-wise.  

We need plenty of glucose running through our bodies because it’s necessary to keep our brains functioning, so maybe the same is true for dolphins. The difference is, dolphins eat fish. Fish is high in protein and low in sugar. So, where do the dolphins get their supply of glucose? Highly evolved insulin resistance. They activate their ‘diabetes’ when they need it. They can flip it on when they’re sleeping and flip it back on when they’re noshing on breakfast in the morning.

There is still disagreement that dolphins use glucose the same way we do, because their metabolism is different. Because they have a layer of blubber, for example, they store and use energy differently.

 It’s still an exciting finding. There are more similarities between dolphins and humans than ever before believed. New studies found that dolphins that when dolphins fast overnight, the fluctuation in their blood chemistry were the same found in humans.

Now if dolphins are the best model for type 2 diabetes study, that’s great, as long as they perform studies on live dolphins.

 Read a lot more on the dolphin-human diabetes connection, here.

We promise we won’t experiment on you, but if you’d like to learn how to master your Type 2 Diabetes, join us for our 7th annual Living Well™ – Mastering Type Diabetes Program, running April 18 – April 24, read more here!

4 Responses (Add Yours)

  • Cindy says:

    Hey! Where’s the dolphin love?!

  • WLW says:

    Because of the new documentary, it seems there’s a lot of dolphin talk…people talking about how they’re self-aware! It’s pretty great stuff.

    Another thing dolphins seem to possess is not only a competitive spirit but also group supportive behavior…

    Which motivates you most? 1. Competition, 2. Excitement, 3. Trash talk, 4. Support?

    We’re exploring these at http://www.weightlosswars.com

    What do you think?
    .-= WLW’s last blog post..Quick, Healthy Meals! =-.

  • cindy says:

    Hmmm…probably competition (although trash talk can really get my blood boiling), after which I’d relish some genuine support from someone I love and admire and then maybe a little excitement to celebrate.

  • Jaime says:

    The dolphin “diabetes switch” is really interesting. The Pima tribe could use that for sure, for their contact with processed foods! The dolphins are miraculous to me, moreso that they will even deal with us after our species’ treatment of them. Yes, study them live, please!

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