More than 100 million U.S. adults (almost half of the American population) are now living with diabetes or prediabetes, according to a report by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The report finds that as of 2015, 30.3 million Americans – 9.4 percent of the U.S. population –had diabetes.
Diabetes means having too much sugar in their blood. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to other severe medical conditions like heart disease, nerve damage, kidney problems, eye damage, and many other health problems.
What Causes Diabetes?
Unlike Type 1 diabetes which is caused by the immune system attacking itself and destroying insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, Type 2 diabetes has multi-factorial etiology, ranging from genetic predisposition to individual lifestyle and environmental factors- like lifestyle, stress, excessive calorie intake, and obesity.
Has your doctor told you that you are in the pre-diabetes state?
Have you been diagnosed with diabetes?
Although pre-diabetes and diabetes may sound like different conditions, the reality is, they are faces of the same coin, with similar risks.
Many people don't take control their blood sugar seriously in pre-diabetic stage until they are declared diabetic.
High blood sugar DOES NOT cause diabetes. Diabetes is caused by excess insulin in your body, and NOT excess blood sugar. Excess blood sugar is a symptom, but not the cause when it comes to diabetes.
After eating, the food is broken down into sugar, and pancreas gets a trigger to produce insulin. The sugar is then stored in the liver and muscles to be used as energy. But there is a limit to the amount of sugar the liver and muscles can store. Think of your liver and muscles as small bags with limited storage space. If sugar keeps coming in, the bags will soon be packed to capacity.
In comes your in-house housekeeper for excess sugar, the insulin. Insulin escorts the excess sugar that can’t “fit” into the liver and muscles and takes it to fat cells, where it is converted into fat and stored.
Note here- that “carbovores” already have spiked up insulin levels, so they have ample valets to park the excess glucose easily to fat cells.
But what if a lot of sugar is outside a fat cell but can't get inside to be stored as fat? The sugar will naturally go back to blood. This causes your blood sugar to rise- AKA prediabetes and diabetes.
So when your doctor told you, that you are prediabetic, it means that the damage has already been done, and you are insulin resistant. While you think that you may not be at risk because you are thin, there is a term called "skinny fat." And 20% of people with sugar issues are thin and fall in this category.
Insulin is a vital hormone as it helps reducing blood sugar. For insulin to work, the tissues in our bodies have to be sensitive to its action, and the first organ to stop responding to insulin is the liver, followed by the muscles and eventually fat.
When there isn't enough insulin, or it isn't used as it should be, the glucose(sugar) can't get into the body's cells and build up in the bloodstream. The cells, unable to get the glucose they need to fail to function at the optimal level, and the build-up causes severe damages all around.
As long as your insulin level is elevated or depleted, you can’t burn fat and will most likely struggle to lose weight.
The REAL Cause of Diabetes
On a cellular level, the cause of diabetes is simple. Medical research groups like Moritz et al, 2002; Carroll & Ashcroft, 2006; Regazetti et al, 2009; Halerg et al, 2009; Heinis et al, 2010; Cheng et al, 2010 recently discovered that oxygen levels in pancreatic beta cells regulate the activity of pancreatic cells through hypoxia-inducible factor 1-alpha.(1)
Cell Oxygenation – A New Hope for People with Diabetes?
Typically when new cells are surgically placed, it takes a while for the body to form a blood supply network to these new cells and many die off in the early stages... A biomaterial is in testing stage that can be grafted on the skin like a patch... and would allow immediate oxygen supply and increase the chances of the organ or cells taking hold. In particular, it would be beneficial for transplanting pancreatic cells as these require huge amounts of oxygen to survive and function.
Successful pancreatic cell transplants would give patients with Type 1 diabetes the ability to produce their own insulin...however ...much more research is needed before it can hopefully start treating those with diabetes.
More and more patients are seeking out alternative and natural remedies to help treat their symptoms, but it seems that oxygen therapy is often overlooked.
Oxygenating the cells in your body is proven to have many positive health benefits and it has been found that it can aid in the prevention of several diabetic symptoms. A main complication of diabetes is limb amputation due to a lack of circulation. Regular oxygen therapy has been shown to aid cellular oxygenation and healing, increasing the oxygen levels reaching your extremities to prevent cell death and helping to heal ulcers.
Diabetic patients are 3 times more likely to develop Glaucoma which can lead to blindness. Supplemental oxygen has been shown to ensure continued oxygenation to the eye and to relieve the pressure that the fluid build-up can cause. Glaucoma is also difficult to spot until it is too late therefore taking supplemental oxygen can help to ward off this symptom before it's too late.
Diabetes also weakens the body and its ability to self-heal and can affect the sensory areas of the brain.
Many Type 1 sufferers experience symptoms similar to being under the influence of alcohol which can have a significant impact on their day-to-day life.
Supplemental oxygen has been shown to aid in nerve regeneration and general body repair and healing which can alleviate these symptoms. Oxygen Therapy is an effective alternative treatment for diabetes and can be used as a method of prevention against specific debilitating ailments commonly experienced by people with diabetes.
What Affects Body’s Insulin Levels and Resultant Blood Sugar Response?
Artificial sweeteners alter blood sugar response
Non-caloric artificial sweeteners (NAS) are often chosen to combat weight problems because they do not contribute to overall calorie intake and are thought to subvert the rise in blood glucose levels that occur in response to food intake. However, research has proved that commonly used NAS formulations drive the development of glucose intolerance through induction of compositional and functional alterations to the intestinal microbiota.
According to a study published in September 2013 in Diabetes Care. When 17 obese, non-insulin-resistant people sipped a beverage sweetened with sucralose before taking a standardized dose of glucose, their blood sugar and insulin peaked at higher levels than when they drank plain water.
Type 2 diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance have also been linked to alterations in gut microbiota composition. Analysis of gut bacterial genomes shows that microbial-gene signatures differ between patients with and without diabetes, and people with impaired glucose tolerance There are recurring arguments that intense sweeteners increase appetite for sweet foods, promote overeating, and may even lead to weight gain
Stevia, a sweet food, NOT AN ADDITIVE, which helps in the metabolism of sugar, which would be ideal for people with diabetes, has now been approved as a dietary supplement by the F.D.A. With enough reasonably safe choices like stevia and agave, that are almost without arguable controversy, why risk the synthetics?
Read more about the “Aspartame” Disease in my blog here!
Dehydration spikes up blood sugar
Dehydration triggers hyperglycemia, and the sugar in your circulation becomes more concentrated. As a result of high blood sugar, you tend to urinate more.
Some Medicines mess with sugar control
Prescription and OTC medicines like steroids used in inflammatory conditions, auto-immune disorders and asthma, cause blood sugar to shoot up. Birth control pills, even certain antidepressants, antipsychotics, diuretics, nasal decongestants can cause higher than normal sugar readings. Some drugs may even lower blood sugar and lead to hypoglycemia.
Irregular sleep can disrupt blood sugar levels in the body
Restless nights, changes in sleep patterns do more harm than merely hurting your mood or energy levels. As per a review published in 2015 in Therapy, lack of sleep may increase the risk of developing diabetes by imperiling glucose control and insulin sensitivity. Not getting enough sleep is a form of chronic stress on the body, and stress causes blood sugar levels to rise. Consistent sleep routine helps improve your overall health and can assist in managing blood sugar levels as well.
Love your Cuppa’ Joe? Give this a thought before you pick up the next one-
How much caffeine is safe if you’re at risk of diabetes or already have the disease is murky. While some research, like a review study published in June 2016 in the European Journal of Nutrition, found that healthy, regular coffee drinkers who consumed three to four cups of coffee per day saw a reduced risk of developing type 2. Earlier research suggests that drinking too much caffeine may cause blood sugar levels to spike in those who already have the disease.
According to the Mayo Clinic, while consuming up to 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine per day is safe for most people, in those with diabetes, the substance can affect how insulin behaves, leading to low or high blood sugar. You may notice blood sugar swings after drinking only two 8-ounce plain cups of brewed coffee.
How Diabetes Affects Our Respiratory System
The average capacity of the human lungs is between 4 and 6 liters of air. This gets reduced if the lungs become diseased or damaged due to habits like smoking.
Diabetes adversely affects our breathing in multiple ways. Though breathing difficulties is not a common symptom or a side effect of diabetes, the risk of having difficulty in breathing is higher in people with diabetes as compared to normal healthy individuals.
Diabetic Ketoacidosis- the root cause of Kussmaul breathing
Rapid or labored breathing is known as Kussmaul Breathing. A symptom of Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA). DKA is caused by very high blood glucose levels accompanied by a high level of Ketones in the blood. DKA mainly strikes when people with diabetes haven't taken sufficient insulin. Without adequate insulin, the body begins to break down fat as fuel, the result? A build-up of acids in the bloodstream called ketones.
A hazardous condition, DKA should be treated as an emergency, the signs and symptoms often aggravate quickly, sometimes within 24 hours.
Remember, untreated diabetic ketoacidosis can be fatal.
Shortness of Breath (SOB) and kidney failure
Kidney disease is one of the most common side-effects of diabetes, with more than 40% of Americans with diabetes affected by it. If a person with diabetes feels breathless or experiences shortness of breath while climbing the stairs, it could be a result of kidney failure. Chronic kidney disease can also lead to anemia, which is nothing but the shortage of RBC, less RBC means fewer carriers for oxygen, and the body struggles to get enough oxygen to the muscles, leaving the patient with shortness of breath.
Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA)
People with diabetes have a 3 times higher risk of developing sleep apnoea. The difficulty in breathing while sleeping is often triggered by due to excessive body weight, and being overweight is the primary cause of sleep apnoea.
As we all know, any changes in our Circadian rhythms affect blood sugar levels, and thus, diabetes and OSA could be interrelated at multiple levels. Learn more about OSA in my blog- Sleeping, Snoring, Strokes and the way we breathe
Flu and diabetes
Flu (influenza) is a viral infection and one of the most common ones at that. A dangerous complication of flu is pneumonia, and people with diabetes are more at risk of developing this complication than people without diabetes. Read the article here.
Viral infections like flu lead to higher blood sugar levels and increase the risk of short-term complications like ketoacidosis and Hyperosmolar Hyperglycemic State (HHS).
Can Breathing Help Manage Diabetes?
Breathing can help manage diabetes, blood sugar, and associated health issues better!
Optimal Breathing™ exercises can help in controlling blood sugar and bring insulin levels in the normal range."Diaphragmatic Breathing controls complications attributed to elevated Blood glucose levels."
Data collected before and after consumption of a 900-calorie breakfast composed of 80% carbohydrates, 10% proteins, and 10% lipids were analyzed.
Ten (10) minutes after the meal, 8 subjects spent 40 minutes performing simple diaphragmatic breathing in a quiet place. The other 8 subjects, representing the control group, spent the same time sitting in an equivalent quiet place reading a magazine.
Blood samples were collected immediately before the meal as well as 1 hour and 2 hours after the meal and Heart rate, plasma levels of glucose, insulin, reactive oxygen metabolites, and biologic antioxidant potential was recorded.
Results, in normal group, showed high blood sugar induced free-radical production and reduced antioxidant levels. Whereas the group performing Diaphragmatic breathing exercises recorded reduced heart rates increases insulin, reduces diabetes (Blood Sugar) count and reduced free radicals.
The Optimal Breathing™ exercises are simple, effective and economical, and when used along with medical treatment for diabetes, they become a potent weapon in the management of diabetes.
Breathing helps in reducing insulin resistance
The parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) gets stimulated with Optimal Breathing™. Stimulated PNS inhibits sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and reverses insulin resistance.
A 2014 study showed the effect of 6 months practice of comprehensive breathing program on reducing blood glucose, improving quality of life and preventing progression of cardiac neuropathy.
Breathing affects body weight and composition which contributes to improved diabetes status
With breathing exercises, the lungs are filled with fresh oxygen, which improves the oxygenation of entire body cells. The enhanced oxidation helps in burning fat and assists in managing diabetes.
Breathing helps control stress, a trigger for blood sugarOxidative stress is nothing but an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants in our body. This type o stress triggers diabetes-induced inflammation, insulin resistance and thus, results in elevated blood sugar levels.
Can we avoid stress, possibly not, in today’s world.
With Optimal Breathing™; catecholamine-the neurotransmitter responsible for the increase in oxidative stress, blood pressure, and insulin resistance- can be rendered ineffective. Optimal Breathing exercises and techniques promote a calming effect on the mind – and your entire body becomes better equipped to handle the increasing levels of oxidation.
Breathing regulates sleep
Better breathing helps in achieving decreased levels of inflammatory cytokines, rennin, and other pro-inflammatory agents. The reduced levels of inflammatory agents mean optimal blood pressure and heart rate, and reduced levels of stress-inducing hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. Better sleep means relaxed hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis (HPA), less spike or yo-yo-ing in sugar levels which in itself help in improving the quality of life of diabetic patients.
Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) is the part of the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS) that regulates the functions of the internal organs such as the heart, lungs, pupils, kidneys, stomach, and intestines. It controls the involuntary functions such as breathing, the heartbeat, and digestive processes.
ANS is closely related to obesity, weak heart and respiratory system fitness, insulin resistance and hypertension. With a combination of breathing techniques and exercises, the damage to the central and peripheral nervous system that is caused by diabetes mellitus can be contained. The never conduction velocity which is affected by having too much sugar in the blood can be improved.
According to a study, The regular practice of diaphragmatic breathing significantly improves heart rate variability with a favorable prognostic picture in ischemic heart disease patients who have diabetes. These effects seem to be potentially beneficial in the management of IHD patients with diabetes.
Lung dysfunction, a common complaint in extreme diabetes cases can cause insulin resistance and can increase blood glucose levels. Regular practice of breathing exercises can increase lung volume.
Diabetes is our body telling us that we are going the wrong way in managing it. It has been conclusively proved that low oxygen in cells can cause diabetes, and managing the way our body takes in, assimilates and synthesizes oxygen can help manage diabetes.
If you are a diabetic or a prediabetic, the first step towards a better life is your commitment to managing your diabetes by making healthy eating and physical activity a part of your daily routine.
You should also keep a close eye on your sugar levels and watch out for high/low sugar symptoms. Remember, HgbA1C is not always an accurate indicator of complication risks. Blood sugar can rise in your body when the body is unable to transport glucose fast enough to brain and heart and resorts to maintain a higher level of blood glucose to make up for it.
What you eat plays a huge role in managing diabetes, even reversing it to an extent.
Further references (1)
- P. Buteyko, MD, Ph.D., The theory of the pathogenesis of diabetes mellitus. Basic principles of hormone therapy, published in the Buteyko method. Its application in medical practice, ed. by K.P. Buteyko, 2-nd ed., 1991, Titul, Odessa, p. 5-9.
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Glassford AJ, Yue P, Sheikh AY, Chun HJ, Zarafshar S, Chan DA, Reaven GM, Quertermous T, Tsao PS, HIF-1 regulates hypoxia- and insulin-induced expression of apelin in adipocytes, J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2007 Dec;293(6): E1590-6.
Halberg N, Khan T, Trujillo ME, Wernstedt-Asterholm I, Attie AD, Sherwani S, Wang ZV, Landskroner-Eiger S, Dineen S, Magalang UJ, Brekken RA, Scherer PE, Hypoxia-inducible factor 1alpha induces fibrosis and insulin resistance in white adipose tissue, Mol Cell Biol. 2009 Aug;29(16):4467-83.
Heinis M, Simon MT, Ilc K, Mazure NM, Pouysségur J, Scharfmann R, Duvillié B, Oxygen tension regulates pancreatic beta-cell differentiation through hypoxia-inducible factor 1alpha, Diabetes. 2010 Mar;59(3):662-9.
Moritz W, Meier F, Stroka DM, Giuliani M, Kugelmeier P, Nett PC, Lehmann R, Candinas D, Gassmann M, Weber M, Apoptosis in hypoxic human pancreatic islets correlates with HIF-1alpha expressionFASEB J. 2002 May;16(7):745-7.
Regazzetti C, Peraldi P, Grémeaux T, Najem-Lendom R, Ben-Sahra I, Cormont M, Bost F, Le Marchand-Brustel Y, Tanti JF, Giorgetti-Peraldi S, Hypoxia decreases insulin signaling pathways in adipocytes, Diabetes. 2009 Jan;58(1):95-103.