Maintaining normal blood sugar levels has become a concern for many in the United States and across the globe. Diabetes affects more than 420 million people around the world, with 90 percent having Type 2 diabetes. Put another way, one in 11 adults have either been diagnosed with diabetes or have pre-diabetes.
Why is this epidemic happening? Certainly, the prevalence of refined sugars and carbohydrates in the diet is a factor. The result is that the body is under constant stress to maintain a healthy glucose level. Given how pervasive sugar is in our food supply, our bodies are under constant stress to manage and maintain a healthy blood sugar level. Lifestyle patterns of eating a high sugar diet combined with high stress and genetic predisposition to diabetes can create the perfect storm. African Americans, Asian Americans and Latinos are more prone to developing diabetes.
Many people are looking for a way to lower blood sugar and improve the body’s insulin management, and they want to use a natural remedy to do so. Nutrients like cinnamon bark and alpha lipoic acid are important. Vitamin D is another important nutrient. It is most associated with bone health, but vitamin D levels also impact blood sugar. Low vitamin D influences insulin resistance, a condition that occurs when the body doesn’t exhibit a normal response to the hormone insulin. While the exact cause of insulin resistance is unknown, chronic stress, obesity, high blood pressure, and a sedentary lifestyle all contribute to the condition. Since the average American spends 21 hours a day being sedentary, this poses a challenge to maintenance of healthy blood sugar levels. As a result, the body does not properly convert glucose to energy, and blood levels of glucose remain high as a result. Most people are actually deficient in Vitamin D, particularly during winter months with not much sunlight (required to convert the vitamin into a form that is usable by the body). Daily vitamin D has been shown to improve fasting blood sugar levels and A1C, your average blood sugar over the last three months. High A1C is linked to diabetes.
Another nutrient thought to influence insulin is chromium, which is a trace mineral found in foods like broccoli and grapes. Unfortunately, a high sugar diet can quickly deplete the body’s chromium, so taking a supplement is the best way to ensure you are getting ample chromium. Vitamin C also boosts chromium absorption so it is an important vitamin to add to your daily regimen.
Glucose levels are a delicate balance. There must be sufficient circulating blood glucose, but the glucose must also be able to be converted properly by insulin into energy. When the balance is disrupted, so is the body’s ability to regulate this crucial production of energy. Nutrients like chromium ensure that the proper enzymes are reacting to maintain this delicate balance.
We mentioned earlier that high blood pressure is thought to contribute to insulin resistance, but what contributes to high blood pressure? Heavy metals can actually cause high blood pressure, which impacts not only insulin, but also greatly increases a person’s risk for developing heart disease or having a heart attack.
For example, lead is well known as raising blood pressure. The body can store heavy metals; lead is stored in the bone and can be released back into the body to wreak havoc on blood pressure. Other heavy metals, like arsenic and tungsten, are also associated with high blood pressure.
Where do these heavy metals come from? Lead exposure is most often associated with old house paint but can also come from drinking water and batteries. Arsenic can also be found in drinking water and is ever-present in soil, fertilizer and crops. Tungsten is a common pollutant found in air, industry and drinking water.
Heavy metals are a huge concern because of their effect on blood pressure, but they have other effects on the heart including their contribution to oxidative stress. Heavy metals reduce the body’s ability to defend itself from oxidative stress because they bind with the antioxidant glutathione and hamper its ability. As a result, the cardiovascular effects of inflammation and atherosclerosis set in.
Many experts believe that systemic inflammation is a huge risk factor for not only heart disease, but many other diseases.