Diabetes, Immune Balance, and Inflammation3 min read
We obtain our energy from the glucose (sugar) that circulates in our bloodstream. The body uses insulin, a hormone, to control circulating levels of glucose. Too high a level of glucose is just as bad as too little glucose. Those who cannot control their blood sugar, for example diabetics, are at greater risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, eye, kidney, skin, and nervous system complications.
Inflammation is a major contributor to diabetes. Inflammatory markers are higher in diabetics as compared to controls, indicating chronic, inflammation. Fat cells, especially those found around one’s waist, release pro-inflammatory cytokines. These biochemical messages result in inflammatory responses that can go on to destroy insulin-producing cells.
Controlling excessive inflammation, reduces the likelihood of getting chronic diseases, including diabetes. Diabetics that lower their levels of inflammation, decrease their risk of having other conditions.
The key to excellent health is having the right balance of pro-inflammatory (molecules that lead to inflammatory responses) and anti-inflammatory cytokines (molecules that dampen inflammation). We need enough inflammation to defend the body against infection and cancerous cells, but not so much that the body starts to destroy healthy tissues, such as insulin-producing cells.
Restoring immune inflammatory balance, homeostasis, may reduce diabetic symptoms, help guard against infections, and contribute to overall health by giving the body a chance to heal itself.
Get To Your Ideal Weight.
Obese individuals are at greater risk of getting diabetes. Fat cells release pro-inflammatory cytokines, messages that result in inflammation. Many diabetic symptoms are reduced, even with minimal weight loss.
Make smarter beverage and food choices.
Current suggestions about eating are, to ignore the fat content of your food, and concentrate on decreasing your total carbohydrate intake.
Limit your intake of:
- Liquid carbohydrates such as soda, fruit juices, “energy” drinks, beer.
- Fried foods.
- Starches, such as corn, white rice, chips, nachos, French fries.
- White flour products such as breads, pasta, cakes, desserts.
Fill Half Your Plate with Vegetables and Colorful Fruits.
You might wish to include some of the following as well: Brewer’s yeast, broccoli, buckwheat, liver, okra, peas, and spinach.
Become Physically Active.
Exercise, even without weight loss, helps control blood sugar levels. Muscles release anti-inflammatory molecules every time they contract. To help balance the levels of inflammation in the body, try to be physically active at least 150 minutes a week. Walk at a brisk pace. Stand, instead of sitting. Work faster when in the garden. Exercise while watching TV. Just get moving!
Vitamin D May Play A Role In Balancing Inflammatory Responses.
Vitamin D, actually a hormone-like biochemical, is involved in cell growth and immunity. Organ systems such as liver, skin, thymus, small intestines, and pancreas have cells that bind a form of vitamin D. It suppresses pro-inflammatory cytokines and increases the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines. Diabetics often do not have enough vitamin D in their bodies.
The body produces its own vitamin D when one is exposed to the sun. Moderate sun exposure, until the skin is slightly pink, during the summer months, stimulates the production of its vitamin D. In temperate climes, vitamin D supplementation may be necessary.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce inflammation. It is recommended that individuals consume 2-3 servings of fish/week or omega-3 fish oil supplements. [Omega-3s from plant sources may not have the same benefits.] Diabetics have found these fatty acids to be are helpful, but check with your health practitioner to see if fish oil is right for you.
Moderate Coffee Consumption.
Certain compounds in coffee may help decrease inflammation, suggesting that in diabetes moderate consumption of coffee may be helpful.
Immune researchers have shown that consumption of multiple servings/day of hyperimmune egg is a natural way to help the body regain its immune homeostasis.
Lifestyle changes, rather than medication, are the best ways to regain immune balance, immune homeostasis, and control blood sugar.