One of the most important elements of being able to reverse your diabetes is to repair the cells and tissues that have been damaged by the diabetes.
Cells and tissues are damaged within a diabetic's body via several harmful biological and biochemical processes, including inflammation, oxidation and glycation.
These cellular processes not onlyfuel Type 2 diabetes, but, they, also, prevent the reversing of Type 2 diabetes.
Glycation (Advanced Glycated End Products)
Diabetes is specifically characterized by damaged or glycated red blood cells that cause damage to your arteries and capillaries as these glycated red blood cells circulate throughout your body.
As these glycated red blood cells circulate and damage your blood vessels, this leads to chronic cellular inflammation and excess oxidation. This, in turn, causes even more damage.
FYI: Here is an example of a glycated red blood cell:
As you can see from the diagram, a glycated red blood cell has "jagged" edges, which cause damage to the linings of your blood vessels as these red blood cells circulate throughout your body.
In response to this damage, your immune system triggers various white blood cells and other cells to release various enzymes and repair agents to try to repair the damage caused by these glycated red blood cells.
But, the immune system lacks the resources (e.g. vitamins, minerals, other nutrients) to repair the damage, so it becomes overwhelmed and ill-equipped to deal with the scope of this disease.
Because of the high insulin levels and high blood glucose levels, your kidneys try to get rid of the excess glucose via frequent and excessive urination. But, this excessive urination depletes the body of key vitamins (B-Complex, Vitamin C, Vitamin E) and minerals (calcium, potassium, magnesium, chromium), many of which are needed to fight the diabetes.
The loss of these nutrients prevents proper carbohydrate/protein/fat metabolism, electrolyte balance, nerve protection, insulin regulation, muscle relaxation, and antioxidant protection from free radicals.
In addition, the breakdown of homocysteine is inhibited, causing an increase of cell inflammation leading to a buildup of plaque in the artery walls, which become rigid, thicker and more narrow -- a precursor to developing high blood pressure and heart disease.
The glycated red blood cells have glucose attached to the hemoglobin portion of the red blood cell, as indicated by your hemoglobin A1C.
These glycated red blood cells produce advanced glycation endproducts, or AGEs for short.
As depicted in the following diagram, these AGEs bind to your cells and tissues (such as kidneys, liver, retina, lungs) and contribute to age- and diabetes-related chronic inflammatory diseases such as atherosclerosis, asthma, arthritis, myocardial infarction, nephropathy, retinopathy, and neuropathy.
In order to help your body repair the cell and tissue damage, what is needed by your body is a potent nutritional program that specifically addresses the insulin resistance, inflammation, oxidation, glycation and depletion of vitamins and minerals.
Then, and only then, can the body begin to repair the damage being caused by the diabetes, and allow the body to heal over a period of time.
Unfortunately, many nutritional programs fail to address all of these areas. This is one of the reasons why many diabetics' bodies remain in a diabetic state.
Note: For more information, refer to the Inflammation and Oxidation web page.
Healing and Repair Phases
When you are young, your body is in a constant and continual state of repair and renewal. A good indicator of this is the smoothness and plumpness of your facial skin because of collagen production. Another indicator is how fast your body heals a cut or a bruise.
But as you get older, your body's cell repair and renewal processes begin to slow down, while harmful processes such as oxidation cause your skin to age due to less collagen production.
When your body is fighting a disease such as Type 2 diabetes, it is under constant attack due to oxidation and various other harmful biological processes such as glycation, chronic inflammation and toxicity.
Your body is in a continual state of attempting repair and renewal of the cell damage caused by the diabetes. But, if nothing is done to help the body with the repair and renewal processes, and interrupt the harmful biological processes, then, these processes eventually take their toll after many years.
So, the key is to provide the body with the necessary key resources via super foods and other nutrients that help to support the body's repair and healing processes while stopping or slowing down the damage caused by the harmful biological processes.
There are four (4) major phases involved in healing and repairing a diabetic’s body to prevent, slow down or reverse the damage and the associated complications:
- Blood Glucose Lowering Phase includes a decrease in blood glucose and insulin production and an increase in glucose uptake by the cells, enabling the body to better utilize the excess blood sugar.
- Blood Glucose Stabilization Phase reduces insulin resistance and inflammation, leading to a further decrease in blood glucose and insulin production; and, a strengthening of the immune system to fight off infections. In addition to better utilizing glucose, the body's cells are able to metabolize and burn fat., triggering a gradual loss of weight This eventually leads to a reduction in the need for diabetic medications.
- Inflammation Stopped Phase reduces the cell damage, enabling the cells to better absorb the key nutrients needed to improve the diabetic’s overall health. Oxidation (free radical damage) and toxin levels are also reduced.
- Cell Repair Phase leads to stronger blood vessels, healthier tissues, etc. enabling lower blood pressure, cholesterol, healthy eyes, healthy kidneys, healthy cardiovascular system, etc.
Note: Although these phases are associated with a diabetic's body, many of the same principles and ideas can be applied to a non-diabetic's body as well.
Blood Glucose Lowering Phase
Once a Type 2 diabetic starts to eat properly (e.g. the Death to Diabetes Nutritional Program), the blood glucose levels gradually start to come down, usually within 14 to 21 days, sometimes sooner. This leads to an increase in insulin sensitivity within the cells and a better utilization of insulin by the cells.
Blood Glucose Stabilization Phase
As blood glucose levels continue to lower, glucose uptake into the cells increase, that is, the amount of glucose absorbed into the cells increase causing an increase in the energy within the cells. This improves the activity of white blood cells, which in turn, strengthens the immune system so that the diabetic is no longer as easily susceptible to infections.
Eventually this leads to a reduction in the amount of insulin being produced by the pancreas; and, also a reduction in insulin resistance, allowing the liver and muscle cells, to store any extra glucose so that it is not converted to fat (triglycerides) in the blood.
Because of the reduction in insulin, the body is able to metabolize fat, leading to a gradual and consistent loss of fat (weight), if you are overweight.
Inflammation Stopped Phase
Following the reduction in insulin and glucose levels, key nutrients are more readily absorbed by the cells enabling the cells to function much better.
In addition, oxidation (free radical damage) and toxin levels are also reduced. More importantly, the cellular inflammation is reduced, preventing the further spread of damaged cells and tissues.
Cell Repair Phase
This, in turn, sets the stage for the body to initiate the cell repair and healing processes so that the body can recover from the damage caused by the diabetes and high blood glucose/insulin levels.
In addition, this leads to the following health improvements:
- There is an increase in the utilization of vitamins (B-complex, Vitamin C, Vitamin E) and minerals (calcium, potassium, magnesium, chromium), which are no longer being excreted in the urine due to the kidneys trying to get rid of the excess glucose.
- These nutrients prevent proper carbohydrate/protein/fat metabolism, electrolyte balance, nerve protection, insulin regulation, muscle relaxation, and antioxidant protection from free radicals and AGEs.
- There is a decrease in the production of cholesterol by the liver due to the insulin no longer activating the HMG-CoA reductase enzyme.
- There is a decrease of blood viscosity (thickness) due to the fact that there is no conversion of any extra glucose to fat, decreasing the triglycerides/LDL cholesterol and the formation of blood clots, preventing heart attacks and strokes.
- There is no longer a buildup of plaque in the artery walls due to a decrease of cellular inflammation because of less homocysteine.
- There is a decrease of inflammation markers such as homocysteine, C-reactive protein (CRP), fibrinogen, and lipoprotein(a), leading to less sticky and better moving blood.
- There is a decrease in advanced glycated end products (AGEs), causing less damage to the protein in the cells, preventing the accelerated aging of the cells.
- There is a decrease in blood pressure due to the lower insulin/glucose levels, thinner blood and relaxed arteries.
- There is an increase in cellular function, allowing cells to absorb nutrients, produce energy, remove toxins, and repair the body.
- Also, the lower insulin/glucose levels prevent the triggering of hormonal hunger – so that diabetics don't feel tired and hungry (hormonal hunger).
All of this leads to the need for less medications, better diabetes management and a significant improvement is the diabetic's overall health.
How Superior Nutrition Helps to Repair and Heal Diabetic's Body
Nutritional support for wound healing can greatly affect the three major phases of the repair and healing process: the inflammatory, proliferative, and remodeling phases.
Poor nutrition can prolong every stage of the wound healing process and cause the development of non-healing wounds. Significant wounds can increase the nutritional demands of the body, which means that a patient will need more nutrients than usual to allow for optimum wound healing.
Proper nutrition is essential for wound healing. This means eating a well-balanced diet including fruits, vegetables, organic whole grains, raw nuts, quality proteins, and healthy fats like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids.
However, the body has specific nutritional needs for optimal wound healing. These include increased protein, vitamin A, vitamin C and zinc consumption. Incorporating foods high in these nutrients gives your body the tools it needs to repair injuries.
To heal a wound, the body needs to produce new proteins from amino acids. When nutrition is inadequate, the body tries to get these amino acids from the lean body mass (LBM), which is the sum of the body's protein and water content.
Approximately 50 to 60 percent of the LBM is composed of the skeletal muscles. In the presence of significant wounds, such as non-healing wounds, this response can lead to severe muscle wasting. When the loss from the LBM reaches 20 percent, the body will try to conserve the LBM by limiting the amino acids used for wound healing.
At this stage, the process of wound healing slows. Further loss of proteins can also cause the development of new wounds due to skin thinning brought about by the loss of collagen proteins.
Collagen Production and Oxygen Levels
Two of the key biological processes associated with cell repair and healing is Collagen Production and Increased Oxygen Levels.
Collagen Production: Vitamin C helps wounds heal quicker by assisting with production of collagen, a protein that your body uses to make connective tissues, such as skin, tendons and ligaments.
A laboratory study on diabetic mice, published in the August 2012 issue of the "International Journal of Molecular Medicine," found that applying vitamin C directly to an incision decreased healing time and boosted skin strength with higher content of collagen in the healing tissue compared to control mice that did not receive vitamin C.
As you get older, your body produces less collagen, which slows down your cell repair. And, if you're diabetic, your body produces even less collagen and there is less cell repair and healing.
This is why it's so important to eat healthy foods that can help with the collagen production as well as the cell repair and healing.
Oxygen Levels: Antioxidant vitamins, including C, E, A, zinc and selenium, appear to speed wound healing, according to a study published in the January 2012 issue of the journal "Clinical Nutrition."
In the study, trauma patients with wound healing disorders took oral supplements of the vitamins for 14 days. Results showed that oxygen levels in the healing tissue, which has high energy requirements and requires high levels of oxygen to provide the necessary energy, were maintained in the supplemented group but decreased in the control group.
Additionally, wound closure happened faster in the supplemented group. Researchers concluded that eating foods (such as vegetables)that contain antioxidants might help wounds heal faster.
General Nutritional Requirements for Healing
Carbohydrates should supply 50 to 60 percent of the total caloric intake to ensure adequate energy stores. Carbohydrates are also important components of glycoproteins, which play roles in the wound healing process. Cell migration and proliferation are processes mediated by cell surface molecules composed of carbohydrates.
High quality carbohydrates that help with cell repair and healing include green, leafy vegetables, bright-colored vegetables, beans, and some whole fruits.
Proteins, which are made up of amino acids, should constitute 20 to 25 percent of the required caloric intake. Amino acids such as leucine, arginine and glutamine have been shown to possess anabolic activity. Protein production is a vital process in wound healing. This process is mediated by fibroblasts, which produce collagen, the skin's major structural protein.
To promote optimal wound healing, increase your intake of protein, which is essential for immune system functions, skin health and the production of enzymes. In fact, it is a necessary fuel for most bodily functions.
High quality proteins include "clean" meat, poultry and fish. Meats like venison and organic beef are good for providing your body with the protein it needs to heal wounds, as are free range poultry like chicken and turkey; and, seafood like shrimp, tuna, cod and halibut.
Fats comprise 20 to 30 percent of the total dietary requirement. They also provide additional energy during wound healing and are the raw materials used for the production of new cell membranes.
High quality fats include plant oils such as extra virgin olive oil that contain monounsaturated fats; and, fish oils that contain Omega-3 EFAs .
Vitamin A, which is stored in the liver for several months, can be found in butter, egg yolk, carrots, squash, pumpkin and other orange foods. The vitamin works to stimulate the inflammatory response and, in effect, jumpstart collagen synthesis. This function is necessary for the development of new skin and veins. According to the National Institutes of Health, low levels of this element can lead to increased risk of wound infection and delayed healing.
Along with vision and immune system support, vitamin A promotes skin health and cell growth. Food sources include calf liver, organic eggs and raw milk for their vitamin A content; and, all provide protein as well, making them effective choices for wound healing.
Additionally, vitamin A can be obtained from orange and yellow fruits and vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, turnips, winter squash, cantaloupe and apricots. Dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, mustard greens and swiss chard are other options for high vitamin A content and wound healing.
Vitamin B consists of several different types, including B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin) and so forth. The main purpose of this vitamin complex is to metabolize carbohydrates and proteins to produce energy, which is essential for cell growth and movement. Vitamin B can be found in a range of foods, most commonly poultry, eggs, dairy and fish.
Vitamin C is important to the synthesis of collagen and the growth of new blood vessels to replace damaged tissue. This element also has a strong antioxidant effect that enhances the immune system and, in effect, protects against wound infection. Another benefit is that vitamin C helps the body better absorb iron, which works to supply the wound bed with oxygen and energy for more efficient cellular development.
Vitamin C has a wide variety of functions and benefits, especially from its antioxidant properties. One such benefit is the ability to accelerate wound healing. Berries and citrus fruits are excellent sources of vitamin C, as are broccoli and cauliflower, bell peppers, asparagus, peas, tomatoes and kiwi. Additionally, dark leafy greens are not only high in vitamin A, they are also high in vitamin C, making them optimal foods to promote wound healing.
Zinc is a mineral that has many benefits for the body, including helping balance blood sugar levels and metabolism, promoting immune system functions and strengthening sensory perceptions.
Conveniently, many of the foods high in zinc are also high in the other nutrients necessary to optimal wound healing. These include calves liver and other meats, shrimp, peas, asparagus, broccoli and dark green leafy vegetables.
Consuming foods that contain zinc are recommended for people with wounds and injuries. Such foods include meat products (oysters and other sea foods, beef, chicken, etc), dairy products, wheat germ, and various nuts, beans, and lentils.
Superior Nutrition Stops Diabetic Complications
A superior nutritional program (such as the DTD Nutritional Program) is powerful enough to stop the progression of your diabetes and the development of one or more diabetic complications, e.g. retinopathy, nephropathy, neuropathy, or heart disease.
If you want to do more than just control your blood sugar, here is a list of the author's key books for repairing and healing your body:
For more information about the specific foods and nutrients that help to repair and heal a diabetic's body, refer to the Healing Foods for Reversing Diabetes web page.
Note: The defining of these 4 phases by the author led to the development of his 6-stage Diabetes Wellness Program.
Disclaimer: This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
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