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People with diabetes whether Type 1 diabetes or Type 2 diabetes, have an increased risk of severe complications if the disease goes undiagnosed, untreated, or if it is poorly managed. The high blood glucose levels that occur make it easier for blockages to form in the body's arteries and for nerve damage, causing numbness and tingling, especially in the legs and feet. Most people with diabetes have health problems such as high blood pressure and cholesterol that increase one's risk of heart disease and stroke. In fact 65% of diabetics die from it. There are two common forms of diabetes; Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes, or insulin-dependent diabetes is usually first diagnosed in children, teens, or young adults. In this form of diabetes the beta cells of the pancreas no longer makes insulin because the body's immune system has attacked and destroyed them. Without insulin to move glucose into cells, blood glucose levels become excessively high, a condition known as hyperglycemia. Because the body cannot utilize the sugar, it spills over into the urine and is lost. Weakness, weight loss, and excessive hunger and thirst are among the consequences of this "starvation in the midst of plenty." Patients become dependent on administered insulin for survival.
Type 1 diabetes is usually a progressive autoimmune disease, in which the beta cells that produce insulin are slowly destroyed by the body's own immune system. It is unknown what first starts this cascade of immune events, but evidence suggests that both a genetic predisposition and environmental factors, such as a viral infection, are involved.
Progression from early stage to full−blown diabetes can take seven years or longer. Unfortunately, by the time a person is aware of the symptoms of type 1 diabetes, about 80% to 90% of the beta cells have been destroyed.
Type 2 diabetes mellitus is becoming increasingly prevalent, both in the United States and worldwide. Patients with type 2 diabetes also exhibit obesity, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia, a constellation of cardiovascular risk factors sometimes referred to as metabolic syndrome X. The disorder is most often diagnosed in patients more than 40 years old, but detection at younger ages is rapidly increasing. Type 2 diabetes patient makes insulin but is unable to circulate hormone to stimulate glucose uptake in muscle and fat and suppress glucose release from hepatic stores. Hence, type 2 diabetes is characterized by insulin resistance rather than absolute insulin deficiency. The rate of insulin resistance rises with obesity. Conversely, it decreases in response to exercise and weight loss.
Recent research has found PPARgamma to be deactivated in adipose tissue in type 2 diabetes patients. These adipose tissue trap insulin, making them unavailable to the body to process the food we eat into energy. This cause even more hunger and thus we increase our food intake, and further caused increased fat storage and obesity.
The first broad therapeutic strategy to treat patients with Type 2 diabetes is to help the body require less insulin through diet and exercise. Aside from reducing the intake of sugar, caloric restriction appears in itself to improve insulin sensitivity. Even a few pounds of weight loss can markedly lower blood glucose levels (at a give insulin level). The other broad strategy is to increase the insulin level, which can be attempted by insulin secretagogues Sulfonylureds or Meglitinides.
New research on type-2 diabetes are focusing on Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated receptors (PPARs), which control how the body uses sugar and fat. PPARs have been known to exist for 14 years, but their suspected role in metabolic syndrome emerged only gradually. They come in three flavors: alpha, delta and gamma. Alpha, discovered in 1990, is involved in controlling how the body processes fat. PPAR delta was isolated shortly thereafter, but it remains the most mysterious of the three; it may play a direct role in artery inflammation, which could turn out to be a more lethal risk than high cholesterol. PPAR gamma, though it wasn't identified until the mid-Nineties, is the best-understood flavor, controlling how keenly certain cells heed insulin's instructions to lower blood sugar levels.
Patients with a mutant version of the PPAR gamma gene have a 25% higher risk of developing adult-onset diabetes, in which cells stop responding to insulin's orders. Existing diabetes drugs, such as Actos from Eli Lilly and Avandia from GlaxoSmithkline , resensitize the body to insulin by turning on the PPAR gamma receptor. In turn, that can cut C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation, by up to 40%.
But PPAR gamma drugs come with an annoying side effect: They make patients fatter. That led drug firms to craft compounds that simultaneously trip PPAR gamma and PPAR alpha, potentially reducing the amount of heart-attack-causing fat in the blood. Two such compounds are in final-stage human trials at Bristol-Myers Squibb and AstraZeneca . In initial trials the medicines were able to control blood sugar, cut triglycerides by over 30%, lower LDL ("bad" cholesterol) 20% and increase the "good" HDL 15%. But devising a dual-acting PPAR drug without side effects could be tricky. Merck and Novo Nordisk killed their entrants after signs the drugs may cause cancer in lab animals.
Eli Lilly, meanwhile, is working on a drug that targets only PPAR alpha. Six years ago it partnered with San Diego-based Ligand, a biotech firm cofounded by Salk's Ronald Evans, who did early work on PPARs. One Ligand drug hits only alpha receptors and may be a thousand times more powerful than existing fibrate drugs. The drug also raises good cholesterol by up to 20% and, in a surprise bonus, lowers blood pressure. It could reach the market by the end of the decade.
The introduction of refined sugars into the modern diet has had tremendous negative health consequences on world health. For example, diabetes, especially insulin-independent diabetes (Type 2), is growing rapidly in the United States, particularly among children. This type is partly due to the inability of insulin to effectively transport sugar to receptor sites and into cells, where the sugar can be metabolized. Instead of being "burned up," sugar builds in the blood, creating a potentially serious health problem. This inefficiency can occur for a number of reasons, including: insufficient insulin production due to pancreas dysfunction (though many Type 2 diabetics produce excess insulin); the inability of insulin to carry sugar to receptor sites; a defect in the insulin; or a defect in the receptor that does not allow for the sugar to be transported through the cell membrane.
Even if one does not have diabetes, it is important to maintain healthy blood sugar levels through proper diet, exercise, and weight management. This is especially important in children who were recently found to obtain 14% of their daily calories from sweet drinks (sodas), overtaking white bread as the primary source of total daily caloric intake.
Regardless of the reason, a number of botanicals, in addition to key lifestyle recommendations, have been shown in modern research to support healthy blood sugar levels by enhancing sugar metabolization.
Research has shown Andrographolide to activate PPARgamma receptor and maybe beneficial certain auto-immune disease such as type-1 diabetes. Activation of PPARgamma in adipose tissue could also be beneficial to type-2 diabetes. Research has shown Andrographolide to decrease the glucose concentrations of diabetic rats and normal rats at the effective dose (1.5 mg/kg). Andrographolide also enhanced the uptake of glucose. Moreover, the mRNA and protein levels of the glucose transporter were increased suggesting that andrographolide can increase the glucose utilization to lower plasma glucose in diabetic rats lacking insulin.
Gymnemia Sylvester is commonly used as a "Sugar Destroyer". It has been used in Ayurveda to regulate sugar metabolism. Gymnema boosts the amount of insulin available in the body to process sugar. When chewed, gymnema leaves actually block the taste of sweetness, thereby effectively suppressing the craving for sugar.
4-hydroxyisoleucine is the active ingredient in Fenugreek. Research has shown 4-hydroxyisoleucine to assist the pancreas in the production of insulin, reduce fasting blood sugars and improve after-meal glucose tolerance significantly. 4-hydroxyisoleucine plays a valuable role in insulin-promotion and glucose regulation. 4-hydroxyisoleucine stimulates insulin secretion, thereby limiting the extent to which blood glucose (the glycemic index) is elevated.
Cinnamon has long been treasured for its exquisite flavor and aroma. Cinnamon help to increase metabolism by raising body heat (thermogenesis), improve digestion and assimilation, and potentiate the effects of our food. A study by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) (Broadhurst et al. 2000) found that cinnamon was the most bioactive among 49 spices in directly stimulating cellular glucose metabolism (the ability of cells to utilize sugar). In a clinical trial involving 60 subjects, 1/4 to 1.5 teaspoons of cinnamon powder daily help reduced blood glucose levels 18-29% in 40 days (Khan et al. 2003). Cinnamon increases the activity of PI-3 kinase, an enzyme that is critical in regulating the ability of glucose to be transported into the cell, where it can be utilized as energy. In addition to its ability to potentiate insulin, the cinnamon also supported healthy triglyceride and cholesterol levels, both important health benefits in general.
In a human clinical Trials conducted by the Damai Hospital in Malaysia, volunteers were given 100mg of Eurycoma Longifolia extract (standardized to 40% Glyco saponins, 22% Eurypeptides) for 8 weeks. Volunteers who have type 2 diabetes showed improvement in blood glucose levels. This may be due to the increase in IGF-1 (Insulin like Growth Factor-1) levels. IGF-1 has similar properties as insulin and it has been shown in research to improve blood sugar profiles in type 2 diabetes patients.
Mucuna Pruriens seeds contain high level of magnesium and zinc that may contribute to its hypoglycemic properties, which seem to act indirectly by stimulating the release of insulin and/or by a direct insulin-like action.
Maintaining healthy weight and increasing lean body mass are key components in supporting healthy blood sugar levels. Recently it was reported that only two days of inactivity resulted in a decreased level of insulin sensitivity. Therefore, supporting healthy blood sugar levels is extremely important for those wanting to maintain a healthy lifestyle. In obesity, or in those with a significantly higher percentage of body fat over lean muscle (body mass index greater than 25), it is very difficult for insulin to do its job effectively. The reason is quite simple: fat cells can prevent insulin from actually reaching insulin receptor sites; the fat physically blocks the receptor, and the sugar that should have been burned off through cellular function remains in the blood. It is important to know that, in such cases, there is often nothing at all wrong with the pancreas (the insulin-producing organ), the insulin, or the receptor sites. The fat simply prevents insulin and sugar from reaching their target. In many cases, people are over-producing insulin in an attempt to get more sugar to the receptor sites. After awhile, the pancreas can become exhausted and no longer produce adequate amounts of insulin. Therefore, a primary therapy for supporting healthy blood sugar levels is proper weight management through diet and exercise