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NOTE:   The studies we will review are tagged with citation numbers like this: [2]
If you “click” on that red number, you will be transported to the actual study.
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Natural Management of Blood Sugar

Blood sugar (or blood glucose) is the currency of energy throughout the body.

Every human cell contains hundreds to thousands of tiny little power plants, called the mitochondria, whose principal function is to turn glucose (C6H12O6) into 36 energy units called ATPs.

In fact, these little organelles completely reverse the process of photosynthesis, in which plants use sunlight to turn carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H2O) into glucose.

This is one of the miracles of life.   Our cells then use those ATP energy units to power every process in the body, including muscle contraction, tissue repair, cell reproduction, and the manufacture of proteins, hormones, and our overall health and immune competency.

The hormone insulin, which is manufactured by the pancreas, controls the delivery of blood glucose into our cells.   When this process fails, the body declines into a disease state.   The best know failure of sugar management is called diabetes.   It’s also known as hyperglycemia (hyper = too much).   Both abnormally high or abnormally low blood sugar levels can wreak havoc in the body.

It’s estimated that 24 million Americans (or 8% of our population) has diabetes, and there may be as many as another 18 million undiagnosed cases.   The American Diabetes Association (ADA) estimates that an additional 57 million Americans are pre-diabetic.   Unfortunately, 1.6 million new cases of diabetes are diagnosed every year.   [1]

Diabetes induces a spectrum of complications, because over time, high glucose levels damage nerve tissue, and “gum up” the smallest blood vessels in our eyes, kidneys, hands, feet and the heart muscle.   In the most serious cases, loss of vision, gangrene in the limbs, or even kidney failure may occur.

The inflammatory damage that occurs to the innermost (or intimal) layer of our blood vessels predisposes us to atherosclerosis (or hardening) of the arteries, leading to high blood pressure and other complications, including heart attack or stroke.   [2]

Let’s discuss the hormonal management of blood glucose, and then review the Shaklee supplements that support a healthy blood sugar level.

Hormonal Control

Hormones like insulin are complex chemical triggers that choreograph numerous bodily functions.   Scientists have identified 51 separate hormones in humans. [3]   Although hormones circulate throughout the body, they only impact the cells that have specific receptors for it.   They are referred to as the target cell.

In general, hormones operate with the classic “lock and key” mechanism.   The hormone is the key that turns the lock, switching on, or switching off various processes and functions throughout our body.   [4]

There are 3 classes of hormones:

  • Steroids, which include the sex hormones, and are made from cholesterol.

  • Amino Acid hormones, which includes adrenaline, and

  • Peptide hormones, which are the most numerous and diverse group of hormones.
    Insulin is found in this class.

Only 2% of the cells in the pancreas actually produce insulin.   They are called the Beta cells.   [4]   Every cell in our body contains approximately 10,000 receptors for insulin, out of an astounding 10 million receptors found upon every cell membrane.

Insulin lowers our blood sugar levels by “commanding” the cell membrane to transport glucose out of your blood stream, and into your cells.

A second hormone called glucagon, reverses this process, by stimulating the liver to break down stored glycogen, to be released into the blood as glucose, thus elevating sugar levels back into the normal range, so we constantly maintain a narrow range of 80-100 mg/dl.   At all times.

So, these 2 hormones work together antagonistically to maintain a constant,
and well-controlled flow of sugar to the engines of our cells, 24 hours a day.

So... What Goes Wrong?

  • Certain viruses, including rubella, Epstein-Barr, and retroviruses, and diseases like the mumps, chicken pox, and measles, can damage or destroy the Beta Cells of the pancreas. [5],   [6]

  • Early exposure of infants to dairy products (in particular cow's milk with it’s β (beta) casein proteins), or excessive exposure to high nitrate levels in drinking water, or low vitamin D consumption, have all been linked to increased risk for Type 1 diabetes. [6]

  • An August 2008 report in the Journal of the American Medical Association also tied elevated levels of arsenic in the water supply to increased risk of diabetes, because arsenic interferes with the cell’s ability to transport glucose across the cell membrane. [7]

  • Another cause of poor sugar management is referred to as pre-diabetes, also known as Syndrome X, Insulin Resistance, or Metabolic Syndrome.   This occurs when cells lose their ability to bind with insulin.   If the key can’t turn the lock, the door won’t open.   Then, blood sugar levels (and insulin levels) both sky rocket, causing havoc throughout the body.

Although the cause of metabolic syndrome is unclear,
it’s strongly associated with this group of risk factors:

high blood pressure,

high blood sugar,

imbalanced cholesterol levels, and the

development of abdominal fat layers.

When all these conditions are present, the risk for developing diabetes
increases five-fold.

The Good News for all of us is that these risk factors are alllifestyle-related”, and are amenable to changes in our diet, activity levels, and vitamin supplementation program. [8]

The early symptoms of diabetes are related to hyperglycemia, and include the 3–P’s:

  • polydipsia     (excessive thirst)
  • polyphagia   (constant hunger), and
  • polyuria        (frequent need to urinate).

When the body fails to reduce high sugar levels, the kidneys are recruited to dump sugar into our urine, leading to dehydration and eventual kidney damage.

Sugar also makes red blood cells sticky, where they begin to
clog up the smallest blood vessels, leading to a variety of disease states:

  • Retinopathy – which involves damage to, and narrowing of the blood vessels in the eyes, leading to potential blindness

  • Neuropathy – which causes tingling, burning, numbness, and pins and needles sensations, particularly in the hands, legs, and feet

  • Peripheral Vascular Disease – poor circulation in the hands & feet may eventually lead to gangrene and loss of fingers and toes

  • Heart Disease – is a side effect of the damage to the vascular system and the increased strain on the heart muscle

  • High Blood Pressure – due to narrowing and eventual hardening of the major arteries

  • Infections – diabetics tend to be more prone to infections, and also, they do not heal very well

These various complications of diabetes contributes to 75,000 deaths a year, and diabetes is listed as the #6 leading cause of death by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).   [9]

Diabetics often have impaired ability to convert beta-carotene into vitamin A, so supplementation with pre-formed vitamin A is necessary.   Diabetics also have increased requirements for multiple other nutrients, including chromium, magnesium, and vitamins C, E, & B complex.   Replenishing these nutrients with supplementation has been shown to improve glycemic control, and to reduce the complications associated with high blood sugar.

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Frank M. Painter, DC

HealthQuest Newsletter
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