It is unfortunate that so many diabetics, and some doctors, do not understand that diabetes entails a lot more than elevated blood sugar. In truth, it is an extremely complex disorder involving numerous metabolic pathways. This is why so many organs and tissues are involved in the disease: eyes, blood vessels, nervous system, kidneys, and heart. Interestingly, the disease exercises a profoundly negative sffect on the vascular system.
We have known for a long time that diabetics have a much higher incidence of heart attacks and strokes than the rest of the population.3'5 This appears to be linked to an increased risk of LDL cholesterol oxidizing in their vessels, which means a greatly increased risk of atherosclerosis affecting virtually every blood vessel in the body, especially microscopic vessels.396 Alteration of these microvessels leads to diabetic retinopathy (blindness) and kidney damage.
As we have seen, oxidized LDL cholesterol beneath the endothelium intensely irritates the artery, which responds by thickening its muscle layer and sending fibroblast cells to wall off the inflammation to prevent further damage. The result is a narrowed lumen that significantly slows the flow of blood through the affected artery.
This is the simplified version of a very complex process that involves biochemical reactions involving special enzymes, eicosanoids, cell-adhesion molecules, growth-promoting molecules and metabolic intermediates. What you need to know is that many natural substances have been found to block these destructive reactions and correct various metabolic malfunctions.
Take vitamins C and E and the carotenoids, for example. LDL contains, deep in its core, six vitamin E molecules, which act as built-in protection against oxidation. Normally, this is a very effective mechanism. Vitamin E, for example, can scavenge a powerful free radical called peroxyl ten thousand times more powerfully than it can fat molecules. But, there is a problem. The inner core of the LDL molecule is liquid and can contain free radicals that escape the fat-soluble vitamin E. This is where water-soluble vitamins come into play: vitamin C and carotenoids, both water soluble, can enter this area and neutralize these free radicals, preventing the vitamin E from being oxidized. Once again, this process demonstrates the importance of the antioxidant network, and why you should take all of the antioxidants, not just one or two.
Vitamin E also helps diabetics in other ways. A recent study of diabetics showed that two important metabolic products become elevated when blood glucose levels are high, diacyg-lycerol (DAG) and protein kinase-CB (PKC-B), both of which are associated with severe
Was this article helpful?
Diabetes is a disease that affects the way your body uses food. Normally, your body converts sugars, starches and other foods into a form of sugar called glucose. Your body uses glucose for fuel. The cells receive the glucose through the bloodstream. They then use insulin a hormone made by the pancreas to absorb the glucose, convert it into energy, and either use it or store it for later use. Learn more...