Diabetes, Part 1: Understanding the Disease

By: Dr. Anup Mulakaluri, ND, AWC

Diabetes is recognized by the CDC as one of the most prevalent disease in the USA. About 29.1 million have diagnosed diabetes, but more than 80 million, about a third of Americans, have pre-diabetes.(1)

Pre-diabetes is a condition where individuals have borderline elevated blood sugar, an indication of a dysfunctioning or over-whelmed blood sugar management system… Individuals with prediabetes have up to 30% risk of developing diabetes within 5 years…

The true danger of this disease comes from the fact that we often don’t recognize the symptoms until late in the disease process. Often, symptoms might seem un-related like increased urination, thirst, headaches, changes to eyesight, nerve pain in hands or feet or elevated blood pressure… Many of us ignore these signs as normal part of aging. Therefore, many discover diabetes after suffering recurrent hypoglycemic episode or diabetic coma.

Most people discover diabetes through their annual check-ups or astute diagnostic work by their doctors. It is so important to catch this disease early because it is not only dangerous, but it can be easily prevented or reversed through natural means…

Before we get to the natural medicines, let us visualize what the problem is… First image I would like to bring your mind is a rough crystal… A sugar molecule is like this crystal, with rough edges like a shard of glass… In the blood stream, sugar flows in blood in the form millions of these crystals. Imagine now, the sharp crystal scraping against the blood vessel walls, causing microscopic cuts and scrapes. Imagine the effect of these cuts and scrapes occurring over the course of months and years… These effects cause inflammatory damage to blood vessels, microscopic bleeds from small vessels; an effect that is extensively demonstrated through studies on damage to eyesight.(2) Most consequences of diabetes are related to this nature of sugar.

Another major way that sugar becomes damaging is in the presence of inflammation… To visualize this, imagine burnt sugar; how it become black and sticky… When sugar crystals are exposed to oxygen in the blood stream, they become “oxidized” and bound to a fat, protein, or DNA molecule to produce an end-product called AGE’s (Advanced glycation end-product).(3) These AGE’s similar to burnt sugar are sticky and un-useable. They get stuck in arteries and promote more plaque and narrowing of blood vessels.

So, we know the two ways in which sugar causes damage in the body – 1) Micro-lacerations in the blood vessels and organs; 2) by producing plaque and narrowing blood vessels… Let’s talk about what kind of problems this creates…

The micro-lacerations in the blood vessels first affect the tiniest blood vessels in the body. These tiny blood vessels are found on the surface of our skin of our feet, hands, inside our eyes and kidneys, penis or female genitalia, etc. Damage to these blood vessels starts congesting blood flow and causes damage to nerves and other tissues that depend on the blood supply.  Result is restricted blood flow to the hands, feet, sexual organs, retina of the eye, etc. This can cause damage to vision, numbness/tingling of hands and feet, as well as loss of libido and erectile dysfunction…

Blood vessel narrowing starts putting pressure on the heart… Causes a rise in blood pressure, results in extra work for the heart muscles. Like any other muscle in the body, the heart tries to grow bigger to deal with the extra pressure. But, the heart is not designed like any other muscle in the body; it doesn’t have much room to grow… So, the heart becomes very congested and dysfunctional over time… Narrowing blood vessels also raise the risk of heart attacks… Heart disease and kidney disease are the most prevalent and severe side-effects of diabetes.(4,5) as many as 68% of diabetic over the age 65 die from some form of heart disease. Diabetes is also the number one cause of amputations of lower extremity.(6)

The Good News:

Looking at the overwhelming numbers of people with diabetes and understanding the insidious nature of the disease process paints a grim picture for health… But, the good news is diabetes is quite reversible and controllable. Individuals who achieve this goal are able to enjoy a full life and prevent heart disease and kidney disease related to diabetes. An individualized strategy must be used to address the specific value and lifestyle choices of the individual. Here, we can highlight some important principle of treatment and ways these can be applied. There principles are:

1.      Reduce simple sugar and carbohydrate intake in diet.

2.      Improve insulin production from the pancreas.

3.      Improve insulin-sensitivity in muscles and other tissues.

4.      Promote overall metabolic activity of the body to consume or store sugar safely.

5.      Balance blood sugar through adjustment of daily routines and meal schedules.

In the next part we will discuss how we can achieve these targets in the process of reversing and controlling diabetes.

 

References:

1.       CDC.gov “National Diabetes Statistic Report, 2014” Center for Disease Control and Prevention. online article http://www.cdc.gov//diabetes/pubs/statsreport14.htm

2.       Lorezi, M and Gerhardinger, C. “Early Cellular and Molecular Changes Induced by Diabetes in the Retina.” Diabetologia (2001) Vol. 44; 791-804.

3.       Uribarri J, et al. Advanced Glycation End Products in Foods and a Practical Guide to Their Reduction in the Diet. J Am Diet Assoc. 2010 June; Vol. 110(6), Pg. 911–16.

4.       Heart.org “Cardiovascular Disease & Diabetes.”, American Heart Association, August (2015), online article: <http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Diabetes/WhyDiabetesMatters/Cardiovascular-Disease-Diabetes_UCM_313865_Article.jsp/#.V5ZoqvkrKhc>

5.       Kidney.org “Diabetes – A Major Risk Factor for Kidney Disease.” National Kidney Foundation, 2015. Online article: <https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/diabetes>

6.       Diabetes.org “Foot Complication.” American Diabetes Association, Feb. 5, 2016. Online article: http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/foot-complications/?referrer=https://www.google.com/

 

 

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