Inflammation and Diabetes
In the past Diabetes has been blamed on genetics or the result of eating certain foods. More recent research however, has proven that Type 2 Diabetes results from chronic inflammation caused by poor nutrition and/or chronic stress. These two factors affect us at the cellular level. To understand this let’s look at how these two factors affect us and why they lead to chronic inflammation.
First let’s look at how sugar is taken in by cells. In order for glucose to be used two fundamental things need to occur- glucose sensing and glucose absorption. Cell membranes contain insulin receptors. When we eat, our bodies send out more insulin to let cells know to receive glucose. When glucose comes in contact with receptors a signal is sent letting the cell know of the present glucose. Once this signal is received, the cell membrane receives another signal to allow the sugar to be absorbed. Of course all of these reactions require there be the right internal environment and communication inside the cell, and that insulin be present. Once glucose is taken in, it is processed by the mitochondria. The mitochondria is essentially the cell’s energy plant, taking in oxygen, fat, glucose, and carbohydrates to create ATP, a form of energy cells use. This process requires the mitochondria to push glucose and oxygen through a series of chemical changes. During this process, electrons and protons are used to pump the mitochondria, turning it into a low voltage battery of sorts, releasing chemicals that energize our cells. The problem occurs however, when too much sugar is taken in by the mitochondria due to a fatty and sugary diet.
As more sugar enters, it causes the mitochondria to pump faster and faster. This uncontrollable activity causes the cell to break down. This is due to electrons combining with oxygen species which results in superoxides. This causes genes or DNA to break up, leading to cell degeneration and early cellular aging. Under these circumstances inflammatory markers are produced in excess in an effort to keep us alive. This however, paves the way for insulin resistance, a major factor in diabetes.
Insulin resistance is when there is insulin and glucose outside of the cell, but (figuratively speaking) they’re ringing the doorbell and no one is answering. This has detrimental effects on the entire body because the excess sugar has nowhere to go causing increased blood sugar levels if not corrected. As excess sugar in the blood travel the body, they end up on tissue and nerves causing more inflammation to occur.
Some major inflammatory markers produced in excess under these conditions are TNF, Nuclear factor, C reactive protein, interleukin, and eicosanoids. Under normal conditions these markers are important for immune response and required to initiate inflammatory response; some act as pro or anti-inflammatory. Elevated production of these can contribute to the formation of tumors, blood clots, affects circulation, skin, and brain, and promotes chronic inflammation, coronary disease, and diabetes.
Another way inflammation contributes to the formation of diabetes is inflammation of adipose cells. Adipose cells store fat. Excess sugar in the body is turned into fat and stored away. When these cells become overloaded, they produce a variety of cytokines, another inflammatory marker, into the bloodstream. As these markers come in contact with cell membranes they disrupt insulin signals as well as signaling between pancreas cells, affecting glucose regulation and homeostasis. This severely affects the pancreas and liver, causing them not to work correctly, leading to diabetes.
When the stress mechanism is turned on specific hormones are produced in excess. One of these is cortisol. Prolonged stress, or chronic stress, causes high levels of cortisol. High levels of cortisol affect inflammation throughout the body, including the brain. Cortisol particularly affects the hippocampus, endocrine system, cardiovascular activity, and the immune system. For today though, we’ll focus on the immune system. The immune system has the responsibility of removing unhealthy cells, destroying cancerous cells, bacteria, viruses, fungus, or any foreign chemical components in the body. Cortisol affects the body’s ability to produce immune cells, therefore immune cells are created incorrectly. This means they aren’t capable of performing their duties, particularly being able to recognize sick cells and remove them. Sick cells produce toxins which has a domino effect, causing other cells to become sick.
When incorrectly functioning immune cells pass by a sick cell, they don’t remove it, allowing the toxins to spread. Over time entire organs, such as the pancreas become filled with sick cells and are unable to function correctly. When the pancreas doesn’t work correctly insulin either isn’t produced correctly or isn’t produced in adequate amounts. This causes elevated blood sugar levels. Additionally, immune cells may attack healthy cells causing inflammation. Inflammation is an immune response which aids in healing however, a weak immune system can’t regulate inflammation.
These two factors, chronic stress and poor nutrition, have a very negative effect on the body. As has been shown, hundreds of inflammatory genes turn on as a consequence of these conditions. Cellular repairs and removal become difficult to impossible, equilibrium and homeostasis can’t occur in cells. Many other damaging effects occur, all of which culminate to the formation of diabetes. The good news however, is that despite common belief, diabetes can be reversed. The body is miraculous in healing itself if given the right tools and environment. These include proper nutrition and managing stress levels. Phytotherapi has protocols to help give the body what it needs to heal. Our Inflammation protocol helps with the chaos produced by chronic inflammation while our Stress protocol helps heal anxiety and other manifestations of stress. If type 2 diabetes has developed, our Diabetes protocol helps the body reverse this chronic illness. Even if damage has been occurring for a long time, healing can happen and the body and its systems can reach equilibrium and homeostasis again. Just as important, we can have better peace of mind knowing we are healthy once more.