Cu­ri­ous Cook: Au­tumn food tales from ru­ral France

Cer­tain vi­ta­mins and min­er­als can help im­prove blood sugar con­trol, and pre­vent or re­duce the de­vel­op­ment of ma­jor com­pli­ca­tions in di­a­betes.

The Star Malaysia - - Nation -

Of Chi­nese and French food, lead in rice and for­ag­ing for mush­rooms.

IF you have a sweet tooth, chances are you have been warned of the dan­gers of di­a­betes. But do you re­ally know the se­ri­ous im­pact it can have on your health?

There are cur­rently about 2.5 mil­lion adults with di­a­betes in Malaysia. Even more shock­ing is the fact that this rate is ac­tu­ally the high­est across Asia and one of the high­est in the en­tire world.

In con­junc­tion with World Di­a­betes Day on November 14, let’s learn more about this dis­ease.

What is di­a­betes?

The pan­creas pro­duces a hor­mone called in­sulin, which trans­ports glu­cose from food to cells where it is con­verted into en­ergy.

When the body is un­able to pro­duce a suf­fi­cient amount of in­sulin (or none at all), di­a­betes oc­curs.

Some­times, the body can­not use its in­sulin ef­fec­tively, which also causes di­a­betes.

Hav­ing di­a­betes means that blood glu­cose lev­els re­main high for a long time and this leads to var­i­ous health com­pli­ca­tions, in­clud­ing heart dis­ease, stroke, kid­ney dis­ease, eye prob­lems, den­tal dis­ease, nerve dam­age and foot prob­lems.

Di­a­betes also af­fects the body’s abil­ity to pro­tect and heal it­self from within, due to in­creased free rad­i­cals, de­creased an­tiox­i­dants, and a lack of key vi­ta­mins and min­er­als.

Re­search shows that di­a­bet­ics are com­monly de­fi­cient in vi­tal nu­tri­ents such as vi­ta­mins A, B1, B6, B12, C and E, as well as mag­ne­sium, chromium and bi­otin.

Symp­toms of di­a­betes

If you’re con­cerned about high blood sugar, look out for the fol­low­ing signs:

● Uri­nat­ing of­ten

● Feel­ing very thirsty

● Feel­ing very hun­gry even though you are eat­ing reg­u­larly

● Ex­treme fa­tigue

● Blurry vision

● Cuts or bruises that are slow to heal

● Weight loss even though you are eat­ing more

● Tin­gling, pain or numb­ness in the hands or feet

Take note, how­ever, that some type 2 di­a­bet­ics may ex­pe­ri­ence such mild symp­toms that the dis­ease can go un­no­ticed for a long time.

Who is at risk?

You could be in dan­ger of di­a­betes if you are:

● Aged 45 or older

● Over­weight or obese

● Phys­i­cally in­ac­tive

Other risk fac­tors in­clude:

● Fam­ily his­tory of di­a­betes

● High choles­terol

● High blood pressure

● His­tory of heart dis­ease or stroke

● Pre­di­a­betes or ges­ta­tional di­a­betes dur­ing preg­nancy

Other causes of di­a­betes have been re­ported but such cases are rare:

● Ge­netic mu­ta­tions

● Hor­monal dis­eases

● Cer­tain med­i­ca­tions

● Dam­age to the pan­creas

How to pre­vent di­a­betes

High blood sugar and di­a­betes can be pre­vented nat­u­rally with a healthy lifestyle:

● Ex­er­cise: Fit­ness in­creases in­sulin sen­si­tiv­ity and helps in­sulin con­vert glu­cose to be used by the body. Burn­ing fuel also im­proves over­all health and sheds ex­cess weight, re­duc­ing or elim­i­nat­ing the need for med­i­ca­tion.

● Re­duce stress: Stress re­leases hor­mones that raise your blood sugar. Take some time off and treat your­self to what­ever helps you re­lax.

● Stop us­ing dig­i­tal de­vices at night. Blue light from tablets and mo­bile phones harm your eyes and keep you awake. In­ad­e­quate rest can el­e­vate blood sugar lev­els, so make sure you get enough sleep.

● Drink up: This will flush out ex­cess flu­ids from your blood­stream, but make sure it’s wa­ter in your glass and not sweet drinks or al­co­hol.

● In­crease your in­take of fi­bre, dark leafy greens and lean pro­tein.

A healthy diet low­ers blood sugar lev­els, slows down di­ges­tion of car­bo­hy­drates and de­creases risk of di­a­betes. Mul­ti­vi­ta­mins can also help sup­ple­ment your diet with spe­cific nu­tri­ents that are nec­es­sary for di­a­bet­ics.

Key nu­tri­ents for di­a­bet­ics

Be­cause di­a­bet­ics have lower lev­els of cer­tain nu­tri­ents and an­tiox­i­dants in their bod­ies, they have very spe­cific di­etary needs.

Sup­ple­men­ta­tion should in­clude vi­ta­mins and min­er­als that have been shown to im­prove blood sugar con­trol and pre­vent or re­duce the de­vel­op­ment of ma­jor com­pli­ca­tions of­ten as­so­ci­ated with di­a­betes like pe­riph­eral neu­ropa­thy (nerve dam­age).

Vi­ta­min B1 is part of an en­zyme that helps pro­duce en­ergy and metabolise car­bo­hy­drates.

Di­a­bet­ics and pre-di­a­bet­ics are of­ten de­fi­cient in vi­ta­min B1.

As a com­po­nent of glu­cose tol­er­ance fac­tor (GTF), vi­ta­min B3 (niaci­namide) aids car­bo­hy­drate me­tab­o­lism. It also con­trols blood sugar through a mech­a­nism un­re­lated to GTF.

Most di­a­bet­ics are de­fi­cient in vi­ta­min B6, which pro­tects against the de­vel­op­ment of di­a­betic pe­riph­eral neu­ropa­thy.

Vi­ta­min B12 (cyanocobal­amin) is a key com­po­nent of car­bo­hy­drate me­tab­o­lism. How­ever, B12 de­fi­ciency is sig­nif­i­cantly greater in di­a­bet­ics.

Vi­ta­min C lev­els also tend to be lower in those with di­a­betes, lead­ing to sor­bitol ac­cu­mu­la­tion in red blood cells, and ul­ti­mately, cer­tain types of end-or­gan dam­age.

Vi­ta­min E and se­le­nium are es­sen­tial an­tiox­i­dants that pre­vent free rad­i­cal dam­age. They are also in­volved in glu­cose bal­ance.

Zinc is im­por­tant for in­sulin syn­the­sis by pan­cre­atic B cells and in­sulin bind­ing to liver and fat tis­sue cells. A de­fi­ciency of zinc may lead to sig­nif­i­cantly higher glu­cose lev­els and lower in­sulin lev­els.

Man­ganese is a co­fac­tor for cer­tain key en­zymes in­volved in the me­tab­o­lism of sugar.

Al­pha lipoic acid is a po­tent an­tiox­i­dant highly rec­om­mended for di­a­bet­ics and those with high blood sugar.

It is in­volved in turn­ing glu­cose into en­ergy and im­proves glu­cose up­take by mus­cle.

Apart from neu­tral­is­ing free rad­i­cals, it pro­motes re­moval of glu­cose from the blood and helps pre­vent di­a­betic com­pli­ca­tions.

Clin­i­cal re­search has proven that vana­dium can in­crease in­sulin sen­si­tiv­ity due to its in­sulin-like ef­fects. This trace mineral is es­pe­cially im­por­tant for peo­ple with blood sugar ab­nor­mal­i­ties.

Chromium boosts in­sulin sen­si­tiv­ity in di­a­betic and pre-di­a­betic pa­tients by in­creas­ing the amount and ac­tiv­ity of in­sulin re­cep­tors on cells for greater ef­fi­ciency of glu­cose up­take.

It also al­lows bet­ter con­trol of sugar with less in­sulin and helps con­trol weight gain and fat ac­cu­mu­la­tion, de­creas­ing the risk of heart dis­ease and stroke.

Be­sides en­hanc­ing in­sulin sen­si­tiv­ity, bi­otin plays a strong role in sta­bil­is­ing blood sugar lev­els.

Bi­otin-in­de­pen­dent en­zymes acetyl Co A car­boxy­lase and pyru­vate car­boxy­lase are vi­tal for those with blood sugar dis­or­ders.

The right vi­ta­mins and min­er­als help di­a­bet­ics man­age healthy blood glu­cose lev­els and im­prove gen­eral well-be­ing.

How­ever, some of the most im­por­tant nu­tri­ents for their con­di­tion – al­pha lipoic acid, vana­dium, chromium and bi­otin – are not com­monly found in reg­u­lar mul­ti­vi­ta­mins.

Al­pha lipoic acid is es­pe­cially vi­tal as it is a triple ac­tion an­tiox­i­dant.

Firstly, it is sol­u­ble in both fat and wa­ter, so it can fight free rad­i­cals in both en­vi­ron­ments. This makes it more ef­fec­tive com­pared to other an­tiox­i­dants.

Rapidly ab­sorbed and trans­ported across cell mem­branes, it is able to pro­tect cells in­side and out.

Fi­nally, it has the unique abil­ity to re­gen­er­ate and re­cy­cle other an­tiox­i­dants to con­tinue de­stroy­ing free rad­i­cals.

Vana­dium has been shown to in­crease in­sulin sen­si­tiv­ity and re­duce blood glu­cose lev­els in type 2 di­a­bet­ics.

It mim­ics the ef­fects of in­sulin in the body, thereby boost­ing up­take of glu­cose from the blood into mus­cle, liver and fat cells.

Chromium is a nec­es­sary com­po­nent for nor­mal in­sulin func­tion­ing as it im­proves the ac­tion of in­sulin through its ef­fect on re­cep­tors. Stud­ies with sup­ple­men­tal chromium demon­strated sig­nif­i­cant pos­i­tive ef­fects on glu­cose, in­sulin, HbA1c and choles­terol lev­els in type 2 di­a­bet­ics.

Bi­otin in­creases the ac­tiv­ity of the en­zyme glu­cok­i­nase, which is the first step in util­i­sa­tion of glu­cose by the liver. This results in bet­ter blood glu­cose con­trol.

Fur­ther­more, the com­bi­na­tion of bi­otin and chromium has been proven to sig­nif­i­cantly im­prove gly­caemic con­trol in di­a­betic pa­tients.

Re­mem­ber that the ideal mul­ti­vi­ta­min and min­er­als sup­ple­ment for peo­ple with di­a­betes and high blood sugar has to be de­signed to meet their spe­cific nu­tri­tional needs for op­ti­mum health and preven­tion of ill­nesses.

Look for es­sen­tial vi­ta­mins, min­er­als and an­tiox­i­dants, in­clud­ing vi­ta­mins A, C, D, E, B1, B2, B6, B12, niaci­namide, folic acid, bi­otin, cal­cium pan­tothen­ate, zinc, man­ganese, cop­per, se­le­nium, chromium, vanadyl sul­phate and al­pha lipoic acid.

Th­ese will strengthen the im­mune sys­tem to fight ill­ness and dis­eases, pro­tect against harm­ful free rad­i­cal dam­age to body cells, tis­sues and or­gans, en­er­gise the body and im­prove vi­tal­ity.

Do add on a daily regime of mecobal­amin (500mcg three times a day), which stud­ies have proven pro­tects against di­a­betic nerve dam­age.

Dis­cov­ered by Ja­pa­nese sci­en­tists, it helps pro­mote healthy nerves, pre­vent nerve in­flam­ma­tion and pro­tects against the de­gen­er­a­tion process of the ner­vous sys­tem.

Re­search has shown it is clin­i­cally proven to re­pair and heal dam­aged pe­riph­eral nerves, and even re­gen­er­ate healthy new nerves in di­a­bet­ics.

In ad­di­tion, it works syn­er­gis­ti­cally with al­pha lipoic acid.

This ar­ti­cle is cour­tesy of Live-well Nu­traceu­ti­cals. For more in­for­ma­tion, con­sult your phar­ma­cist or call Livewell INFO­line: 03- 61426570 (Mon to Fri; 9am to 5pm) or e-mail The in­for­ma­tion pro­vided is for ed­u­ca­tional and com­mu­ni­ca­tion pur­poses only and it should not be con­strued as per­sonal med­i­cal ad­vice. In­for­ma­tion pub­lished in this ar­ti­cle is not in­tended to re­place, sup­plant or aug­ment a con­sul­ta­tion with a health pro­fes­sional re­gard­ing the reader’s own med­i­cal care. The Star dis­claims all re­spon­si­bil­ity for any losses, dam­age to prop­erty or per­sonal in­jury suf­fered di­rectly or in­di­rectly from re­liance on such in­for­ma­tion.

Di­a­bet­ics have lower lev­els of cer­tain nu­tri­ents and an­tiox­i­dants in their bod­ies.

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