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Diabetes & The Immune Connection With Blood Sugar

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Q: What is diabetes?

A: The World Health Organization reports that 177 million people around the world are afflicted with diabetes, a disorder of the metabolic and endocrine systems. In the United States alone, 18 million people live with the disorder, according to The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.  The World Health Organization predicts that by the year 2025, at least 300 million people worldwide with live with the disease.

Most of what you eat everyday is broken down into glucose, the main source of energy for your body. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, allows your body cells to accept glucose and utilize it for energy and growth. When someone has diabetes, their body fails to use the glucose from food efficiently. Too much sugar builds up in the body and can lead to symptoms of diabetes, which include: frequent urination, excessive thirst, extreme hunger, unusual weight loss, increased fatigue, irritability and blurry vision.

Diabetes is divided into two major subgroups: Type 1 and Type 2. The sugar level problem in Type 1 diabetes is thought to be caused by an autoimmune response ofinsulin deficiency. Insulin deficiency means there is not enough, or any, insulin being made by the pancreas due to a malfunction of its insulin producing cells.  In Type 2 diabetes the problem is generated by insulin deficiency and/or resistance. Insulin resistance occurs when insulin is being made by the pancreas but the cells of the body are resistant to its action, which results in sugar levels being too high.

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases estimates that of the 18 million people who have diabetes in the United States, five million do not even know they have the disease yet.

People with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have heart disease or a stroke and their heart disease tends to be more severe. (American Heart Association) 

Q: How does the immune system work?

A: The immune system’s ability to protect your body is both instinctive and learned—in other words, it fights invasions with both innate and acquired responses. Each individual is born with innate immunity—the ability of the immune system to generally recognize foreign invaders. Along with passive defenses like skin, stomach acid and mucus, the innate immune system also contains active immune response mechanisms that include Natural Killer, or NK cells, and macrophages. Like all innate front line defense agents, NK cells do not need prior exposure to an infectious microbe in order to act. They simply recognize foreign cells and go to work.

Any substance that triggers an immune response is called an antigen. Sometimes a germ makes it past your immune system and you catch a cold, the flu or worse. An illness is a visible sign that your immune system failed to stop the germ. But you do get better; and that’s proof that your immune system is doing its job. It gathered knowledge about the invader, mounted a defense and eliminated it properly. If your immune system didn’t do anything, the infection would eventually overrun your body.

Unfortunately, even the strongest innate immune system can’t handle all the various microbes we encounter daily. That’s where acquired immunity comes in. Immune cells learn new skills and build new tools to deal with ever-increasing microbial invaders. But for this system to adapt for attack, it first must recognize a threat before it can build the tools to fight, which is why you sometimes feel like you’re “coming down with something” for several days. The good news is that after the acquired immune system builds the tools for a specific infection, it remembers it and is ready for the next attack.

Inflammation is an immediate response by the immune system to an infection or injury, such as when you get a cut on your arm. In most cases, as the immune system deals with the problem, the immune cells then retreat from the area and inflammation and swelling go down. But occasionally, the immune cells do not withdraw and the inflammation continues, creating a chronic problem within the body. Researchers are beginning to discover a link between chronic inflammation and a host of conditions, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

Sometimes the immune system makes a mistake and acts inappropriately to a certain situation. One such mistake is autoimmunity. For reasons not entirely understood by scientists, the immune system begins to attack the cells, tissues, and organs of the body the same way it would normally react to a germ. Autoimmune conditions include allergies, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome and many others.

Q: What is the immune system connection to diabetes?

In both types of diabetes, the immune system plays a crucial role. Type 1 diabetes, or juvenile onset diabetes, is an autoimmune condition where the body’s immune system overreacts and attacks the pancreas, effectively shutting off insulin production, the important link to utilizing glucose within the body. There is also increasing evidence that low-grade inflammation is involved in the progression of Type 2 diabetes and associated complications. Elevated levels of some inflammatory cytokines, such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-[alpha] and interleukin (IL)-6, may predict the development of Type 2 diabetes. Several drugs with anti-inflammatory properties lower such markers, as well as blood sugar levels, while possibly decreasing the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. This mild state of inflammation may be the common precedent of both Type 2 diabetes and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Diabetics, both Type 1 and Type 2, are often more susceptible to infections as a result of their bodies not being able to properly utilize glucose. These diabetes-related complications include problems of the heart, kidneys, eyes, feet and skin, nerves, teeth and gums.

Q: What are some nutrients to combat the problems associated with diabetes?

A: Scientific research has uncovered several important nutrients that can protect your body against the damaging effects of diabetes.

  • Transfer factors
    Transfer factors, tiny molecules that transfer immunity from one entity to another, can boost or balance the immune system, whatever your body’s particular situation requires. They promote the immune system’s ability to remember past invasions, allowing your body to more quickly respond to similar health threats. Transfer factors also educate naïve immune cells about a present or potential danger in your body, along with a plan for action and speed up the recognition phase of an infection. Transfer factors can be extracted from a variety of sources, the two most powerful and most abundant being cow colostrum (first milk) and chicken eggs. Combining these two sources of transfer factors provides a broad spectrum of support, utilizing the strength of two animals for maximum power for your immune system.

    Transfer factors have the ability to suppress an immune system that is overreacting and help restore balance, as in the case of Type 1 diabetes. Transfer factors can also lend important support for Type 2 diabetes, helping to combat inflammation. Diabetics, both Type 1 and Type 2, are often at a higher risk of infection as a result of their bodies not being able to properly utilize glucose. Transfer factors can greatly boost the immune response, allowing the body to respond quickly and efficiently to health threats.
  • Pterocarpus marsupium (Indian kino)
    Pterocarpus marupium has been used for centuries in India specifically for the treatment of diabetes. It regenerates and revitalizes the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas.
  • Momordica charantia (bitter melon)
    Bitter melon has become a widely used traditional supplement for diabetes.It acts as a mediator between the body’s cells and insulin already produced by the pancreas. It blocks the formation of glucose in the bloodstream and breaks down the barrier that prevents cells from using their own natural insulin.
  • Gymnema sylvestre
    Gymnema sylvestre is well known for its ability to balance blood sugar levels within the body. Like Indian kino, gymnema sylvestre also works to rejuvenate and regenerate function within the insulin producing beta cells of the pancreas.
  • Alpha lipoic acid
    Alpha lipoic acid (ALA), known as the metabolic antioxidant, helps support the body against the often damaging secondary effects of diabetes, such as nerve damage, optical damage and heart complications. Alpha lipoic acid has also been shown to decrease insulin resistance and thus help control sugar levels within the body.

Success Stories

Mike W.
Branford, Connecticut

For a guy who once dreamed of getting his morning blood sugar reading below 150, imagine my excitement when I began taking a product for diabetes containing transfer factors, Indian kino, gymnema sylvestre, and bitter melon. Here are my morning readings for the last ten days:  117, 83, 76, 69, 97, 116, 76, 62, 71, 77, for a ten-day average of 84.4. Anything between 80 and 120 is considered an excellent morning reading.  My doctor indicated he had to cut back on my normal medication because my readings are “too low.” Wow, after being on the new product just five weeks, have we got a tiger by the tail here or what?

Dorothy H.
Washington

I am a 65 year-old mother and grandmother.  I was diagnosed in 1993 with diabetes.  In 1998 I suffered a heart attack.  From the time I was diagnosed, I experienced extreme differences when monitoring my sugar count. In addition to medication, I tried to regulate my blood sugar levels with diet, stress relief and sufficient rest.  Because these efforts were fruitless, I was put on three medications, one of which caused even bigger differences in my daily sugar counts. I was very exhausted. I lost the ability to get an energetic start to my day and started sleeping in later and later.  I felt like passing out at least three to four times during a typical week and would grab peanut butter to prevent from falling on my face.  Under any kind of stress extremes, my count would read 400+.

I apprehensively agreed to try a product for diabetes containing transfer factors, Indian kino, alpha lipoic acid, and bitter melon. For the first time in 11 years, my sugar counts began to respond favorably. On my husband’s birthday, we went to a restaurant and I decided to eat my favorites.  Later that night, the family gathered for chocolate cake with chocolate sauce and ice cream, cheese and ritz crackers.  I took my blood count at 10:00 p.m. and feared the worst.  My blood sugar was at 195!  In the past, this type of day would have produced numbers of 350+.  I no longer get extreme light headedness and dizziness and see spots to the point of nearly passing out.  I no longer need my peanut butter fix and I am back to rising early in the morning!  My highest count on a regular day has been 125! 

 

Yudkin JS, Stehouwer CD, Emeis JJ, Coppack SW: C-reactive protein in healthy subjects: associations with obesity, insulin resistance, and endothelial dysfunction: a potential role for cytokines originating from adipose tissue? Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 19:972-978, 1999.

 

 

© 2005 Transfer Factor Institute All Rights Reserved




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