Diabetes | September 2, 2017 | Author: Naturopath
After eating your glucose levels are elevated, insulin is then secreted from the pancreas, its job is to drive glucose into the cells to be metabolised. There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that too much sugar is bad news for your body.
It’s as addictive as cocaine and its effects are similar. Sugar stimulates the production of dopamine, a pleasure hormone. Without even thinking about it, we may crave sweets and simple carbohydrates. Our body builds up a tolerance for sugar so the more you eat the more you want even if you’re not hungry.
Neurotransmitters in the hypothalamus, a part of the brain, are responsible for the sleep/wake cycle, among other things. They are sensitive to sugars even small increases in blood glucose inhibit orexins’ transmission, thereby inducing a sleep state. So while you experience a sugar “high” shortly after eating/drinking, the “crash” will soon follow.
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Of course, there are other factors such as activity level and metabolic rate that come into play, but the body burns sugar first for energy. What it can’t immediately use, it stores for when you need it, as fat. In addition, eating too much sugar makes you overeat by suppressing the hormone leptin.
Leptin is responsible for telling the body when to stop eating. If you feel tired and lethargic from consuming sugar, you’re also less likely to exercise.
A rise in blood glucose stimulates insulin production to get it back down to normal levels. Insulin decreases blood sugar levels: when it fluctuates or gets too low, your body thinks it needs more fuel. So you eat even when you don’t really need to. And this is what sets up the vicious cycle.
That’s because glucose reduces the activity of white blood cells, which are responsible for killing pathogens like viruses. Eating too much sugar on a regular basis makes us more susceptible to whatever contagion may be floating around. When blood glucose levels are high this is known as hyperglycaemia. The average adult should have blood sugar levels under 6.1mmol/L when fasting. Excess sugar consumption has been linked to everything from diabetes to Alzheimer’s disease. Diabetes has been coined the “silent killer” because the symptoms are so easy to miss, particularly in type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is divided into two main categories;
These people have abnormally high blood sugars because something has destroyed the cells in their pancreases that secrete insulin. Without insulin their cells can’t burn glucose. People with Type 1 Diabetes have completely lost the ability to secrete insulin. Usually this happens because an autoimmune attack has killed off the beta cells in their pancreas that secrete insulin. Occasionally people get diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes after surgery, a serious accident, or some sort of poisoning that destroys their pancreas.
About 90% of diabetics are type 2 diabetics. For these individuals the cell receptors have lost sensitivity to insulin and they are not allowing glucose into the cells. Being overweight / obese is a major contributing factor to type 2 diabetes especially if the excess weight is being carried around the mid-section. Type 2 diabetes is primarily caused from a poor lifestyle and diet. Persistent high levels of blood sugar cause your body to become desensitized to the messages transmitted by insulin, thus causing you to become insulin-resistant. Weight loss can a lot of the time restore normal blood sugar levels especially if dietary changes are also implemented.
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The World Health Organization estimates that diabetes will be the 7th leading cause of death in the next 15 years. The total number of deaths caused by diabetes is projected to rise by 50% in the next decade alone.
Prolonged exposure to blood sugars that are only two to three times higher than normal can cause diabetic complications. All the diabetic complications seem to begin after prolonged exposure to high blood sugars damaging the blood vessels. These include the arteries that supply your heart and the much smaller blood vessels that supply your retinas, kidneys, and nerves.
The very early changes in blood vessels that eventually lead to heart disease start to happen when people’s blood sugars rise over 8.6mmol/L one hour after the start of a glucose tolerance test.
High blood sugars make these blood vessels stiff and fragile. Over time they tend to rupture and bleed.
Like the other complications it is caused by damaged blood vessels, in this case the tiny capillaries that supply your nerves. When your nerves don’t get enough oxygen they start to die, starting from your toes up. This nerve damage hurts for a while. Then as it progresses your nerves die off and become numb. This may feel a bit better but dead nerves make you more prone to infections.
Your nerves do much more than let you know something hurts. They also notify the immune system when tissue is damaged or when you are under bacterial attack. Dead nerves no longer can do this, so invading microorganisms can feast on your flesh undisturbed, because your immune system is no longer getting the message that your defenses have been breached.
Even if your immune system does become aware that you are fighting off an invader, your sugar-clogged, damaged blood vessels make it hard for immune cells to reach the site of the infection. This is why people who have had very high diabetic blood sugars for decades end up suffering the incurable infections and gangrene and the doctors end up having to amputate their lower limbs.
Reports from people with neuropathy who have lowered their post meal blood sugars suggest that keeping blood sugars under 7.8 mmol/L at one hour after eating meals can slowly reverse neuropathy.
For patients with type two diabetes the most important things they can do to prevent the complications associated with diabetes is to loose excess weight and maintain an active and healthy lifestyle with exercise and a high fibre diet.
As well as diet and exercise supplements can play a role in helping to reverse the damage caused by diabetes as well as reverse type 2 diabetes itself. While there are many things in natural medicine to help with diabetes and the complications associated with it the following are just a few examples of supplements known to help
Low magnesium levels is common in people with type two diabetes. Research has shown that magnesium allows proper glucose and insulin metabolism. In type 2 diabetes magnesium is lost through excessive urination. Its also been found that in people with type 1 diabetes and low levels of magnesium have more damage to their eyes and more neuropathy.
Chromium plays an important role in the regulation of insulin and its effects on carbohydrate, protein and lipid metabolism. Insulin resistance is a common denominator in a cluster of complications associated with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes and chromium can help reduce insulin resistance.
Scientists have found a way to combat and even reverse the damage that sugar does to your brain: by increasing your intake of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) occurs naturally in the membranes of our brain cells. It’s known to strengthen the synapses in our brain, enhancing memory and learning.
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