Diabetes: The Echo Effect
Over the years, I've talked about various aspects of
diabetes, but never actually devoted an entire newsletter to the
subject. Yes, high fructose corn syrup, starches, and added
sugars are a problem, but they only scratch the surface of the
The Diabetes Echo Effect
Type 2 diabetes is not like any other disease. Most diseases
such as cancer and MS are linear. In other words, you get the
disease and it progresses in a straight line, from point A to
point B. It may have regressions and remissions in which it
backs up on its linear path for a bit, but then it picks up
steam and once again proceeds on down the same track to its
ultimate conclusion. Diabetes does not do that.
Diabetes actually follows multiple, mutually reinforcing
paths -- an echo effect if you will, with each echo reinforcing
and amplifying all the other echoes, or "effects". This
distinction is of vital importance because it mandates
multiple points of intervention if you wish to reverse diabetes
and not just slow its progression.
Reversing Diabetes Begins with Understanding Insulin
Despite long intervals between meals and the erratic intake
of high glycemic carbohydrates, blood sugar levels normally
remain within a narrow range. In most humans, this range is from
about 70-110 mg per dl. (Note: a blood sugar reading of 100
equates to about 1/5 of an ounce of sugar (5 g) total in the
bloodstream of an average 165 lb (75 kg) male. That's it: 1/5 of
The body's mechanisms for restoring normal blood glucose
levels when it drops outside of its range (either low or high)
are extremely efficient and effective.
High blood sugar levels are regulated by the hormone insulin,
which is produced by beta cells in the islets of Langerhans in
the pancreas. These cells are extremely sensitive to variations
in blood glucose levels and, under normal circumstances, respond
with extraordinary speed to any variation.
When you eat high glycemic foods, you suddenly increase the
amount of sugar in your blood. This increase triggers the beta
cells in the pancreas to release insulin, which travels in the
blood to cells throughout the body, where it facilitates the
uptake of sugar in the individual cells so that it can be
quickly converted to energy. If you eat too much sugar, insulin
tells the body to store the excess sugar as glycogen in the
liver (and also, to a lesser degree, in muscle tissue). When the
glucose levels come down to acceptable levels, this triggers the
beta cells in the pancreas to stop the production and release of
insulin, which allows the process to stabilize. When blood
glucose levels drop too low, however, the hormone glucagon is
released from alpha cells (located in the pancreas), which
triggers the release of sugar stored in the liver as glycogen;
thus, once again bringing blood sugar levels back to normal. One
important note: release of insulin is strongly inhibited by the
stress hormone, noradrenaline, which is why blood sugar levels
increase so dramatically during stress.
The Initial "Sound": Insulin Resistance
On the surface of the cells of your body sit insulin
receptors. These little "lock and key" chemical gateways act
like little doors that open and close to regulate the inflow of
blood sugar. After many years of consuming a high-glycemic diet,
these cells become damaged by exposure to so much insulin that
their "doors" begin to malfunction and shut down.
As a result, the fat cells, muscle cells, and liver cells of
the body become resistant to insulin so that normal amounts of
insulin are no longer adequate to produce a normal response. The
cells require ever and ever greater quantities of insulin to
achieve even the most minimal response. Insulin resistance in
fat cells results in the breakdown of stored triglycerides,
which elevates free fatty acids in the blood. Insulin resistance
in muscle cells reduces glucose uptake which keeps sugar levels
high in the blood, and insulin resistance in liver cells reduces
glucose storage, which also raises blood glucose levels.
The First Diabetic Echo: Increased Production of Insulin
To continue the "door analogy" we started above -- with fewer
doors open, as we mentioned, your body needs to produce ever
more insulin to "push" the glucose into the cells. More insulin
causes even more doors to close and as this vicious cycle
continues, a condition called "insulin resistance"
This is a primary cause and effect response by your body. If
normal insulin levels are not enough to make the cells behave
properly, the beta cells in your pancreas continue to sense high
levels of glucose in the blood; they thus go into overdrive to
pump out ever greater quantities of insulin in an attempt to
bring blood sugar levels back to normal. In most cases, this
extra insulin is enough to bring things back under control --
for a time -- but with two significant side effects:
- It puts undue stress on the beta cells in the pancreas.
They can only operate in overdrive for a limited period of
time before they burn out. At that point, not only can they
no longer produce sufficient levels of insulin even under
prodding, they have effectively lost all ability to produce
insulin under any conditions. They are burnt out.
- The increased insulin comes with a whole host of its own
side effects. See Echo Three below.
The Second Diabetic Echo: High Sugar Damage
Too much sugar in the blood leads to increased thirst in the
body's attempt to get rid of the extra sugar. This leads to
increased urination and starts putting an extra burden on your
kidneys. Too much sugar causes the small blood vessels
throughout the body to narrow as your body tries to abate the
damage caused to organs by minimizing the ability of the excess
sugar to reach them. The higher the blood sugar level, the more
the small blood vessels narrow. The blood vessels thus carry
less blood, and circulation is impaired. Poor circulation in
turn results in complications such as: kidney disease, poor
wound healing, and foot and eye problems. This sugar imbalance
also alters fat metabolism, increasing the risk that
cholesterol-laden plaque will build up in the large blood
vessels. Finally, sugar also sticks to proteins, in effect
carmelizing them, causing their structural and functional
properties to be changed. It is a primary reason that wounds
don't heal since they have trouble making quality collagen, the
connective tissue that is the major structural protein in the
The bottom line is that people who have diabetes are at
considerable risk of multiple "complications."
In addition, as we mentioned earlier, stress results in the
adrenal glands pumping adrenaline into the bloodstream which
increases free fatty acids in the blood and shuts off the
release of insulin. In obesity, less and less insulin is able to
reach the insulin-responsive muscles. In the end, there is not
enough insulin to meet the demand.
Diabetic neuropathy (damage to nerves caused by diabetes)
affects the peripheral nerves, such as those in the feet, hands
and legs. Symptoms include numbness, tingling and pain.
The Third Diabetic Echo: Excess Insulin Damage
Excess sugar is not the only problem associated with
diabetes. Excess insulin is also a killer. Insulin is the master
hormone of your metabolism. When it is out of balance and your
insulin levels are consistently elevated, a long list of deadly
complications are created:
- Heart Disease
- Hardening of the Arteries
- Damage to Artery Walls (elevated insulin levels are
directly implicated in the damage done to arterial walls
that leads to atherosclerosis)
- Increased Cholesterol Levels
- Increased Triglycerides
- Elevated Blood Pressure
- Vitamin & Mineral Deficiencies
- Kidney Disease
- Fat Burning Mechanism Turned Off
- Accumulation and Storage of Fat
- Weight Gain -- Obesity
The Fourth Diabetic Echo: Destruction of the Beta Cells
This is the big echo in which all the other echoes get ramped
up to catastrophic levels.
When blood sugar levels rise even slightly above 100 for as
little as two hours, beta cell failure is detectable. People
that maintain blood sugar levels of as little as 110 can lose as
40% of their beta cell capacity in as little as two years.
In other words, the very cells of your body responsible for
keeping blood sugar under control are destroyed by the excess
blood sugar that they are unable to control, which echoes back
on the beta cells in the pancreas, destroying them and thus
causing blood sugar levels to rise even further. This then
reverberates through the body once again, echoing back once more
on the pancreas, killing even more beta cells -- on and on until
there are no beta cells left to destroy.
Echo Five: Breakdown of the Body
At a certain point in the process, when your body can no
longer produce any insulin and resists even the insulin you take
through injection, you begin to experience the ravages of
diabetes. At that point, you're looking at:
- Kidney failure
- Heart disease
Summarizing the Diabetic Echo Effect
Let's say you start developing the early signs of diabetes
and you decide to clean up your diet. The problem is that you've
already started the echoes. So although your diet may now have
lower amounts of sugar, your pancreas is compromised so that it
can't produce enough insulin to handle even normal amounts of
sugar, and the cells of your body are now resistant to insulin
so that even if your pancreas weren't damaged, it couldn't
produce enough insulin. This means that sugar levels remain high
in your bloodstream even though you've corrected your diet, and
the diabetic damage continues apace.
But it doesn't stop there. Remeber, an entirely separate echo
has also been set in motion. As a result of the higher than
normal levels of sugar and insulin in your blood, you've damaged
your kidneys so that they can no longer fully cleanse your blood
of waste. That means that even if you are able to reestablish
normal blood sugar levels, the toxins not cleared by your
kidneys continue to damage the organs of your body -- including
the pancreas and the kidneys, which means the damage continues
apace and eventually your pancreas and kidneys will fail.
Don't worry. Although the situation may sound grim, it's not
hopeless. It does, however, present the limitations of the
medical approach, and it does show why the Baseline of Health
program, which deals with the whole body all at once, is likely
to produce significantly better results than the medical
So What Can You Do About Diabetes?
Standard medical treatment offers several flawed approaches:
- Drugs like metformin seek to inhibit the absorption of
high glycemic carbohydrates in the intestinal tract and
enhance insulin sensitivity in the body, thereby reducing
the need for extra insulin.
- The major problem with metformin is its effect on
the gastrointestinal system, ranging from a mild loss of
appetite to nausea, vomiting, abdominal discomfort,
cramps, flatulence and diarrhea. Many patients find
these symptoms impossible to cope with and discontinue
the tablets within days.
- Lactic acidosis is a rare but dangerous side effect
of metformin. This is a serious condition where the
cells of the body do not get enough oxygen to survive.
It is caused by a build up of lactic acid in the blood.
Most of the cases described have been in people whose
kidneys were not working well (as we've already seen, an
inevitable problem with diabetes).
- Drugs like glyburide work by stimulating the pancreas to
release more insulin.
- Glyburide is so effective that you need to carry
glucose pills with you in case you produce so much
insulin that your blood sugar drops too low and you fall
into a diabetic coma. Although this rarely happens, it
is indicative of the larger problems with glyburide:
- It raises insulin levels so high that your body
faces all of the problems of high insulin levels
- It doesn't repair beta cells; it just forces
them to work harder -- thus speeding up the day when
they break down and become dysfunctional.
- Extra insulin in the form of pills or injections cover
you when the beta cells in your pancreas have burned out and
can no longer produce sufficient insulin by themselves or
even when stimulated by drugs such as glyburide -- until,
that is, your body's insulin resistance is so high that no
amount of insulin is adequate for the task at hand. At that
point, your body goes into rapid decay.
A Diabetic Alternative: Stopping the Echoes
Obviously, any viable alternative needs to address the
problems that medicines do not. They also need to work "with"
the body so that they can work long term -- not squeeze your
body dry until it eventually breaks down. And finally, any
viable alternative needs to stop all of the echoes -- all of
them without exception -- so that nothing bounces back to
retrigger the problems.
With that in mind, in addition to changing your diet (no more
sodas and high glycemic snack food), you will want to explore
the following options:
- Inhibit absorption of high glycemic foods, without
creating unwelcome responses in the intestinal tract, such
as those experienced using metformin. This can be
accomplished with the following herbs:
- Naturally reverse insulin resistance so less insulin is
- Repair beta cells in the islets of Langerhans in the
pancreas to optimize insulin production reserves as opposed
to forcing the cells to dramatically overproduce as with
glyburide, which leads to inevitable burn out.
- Lower blood sugar levels through proper diet and herbal
- Reduce stress. Remember, adrenaline suppresses the
release of insulin.
- Protect organs and proteins from damage caused by higher
than normal levels of sugar through a mixture of
antioxidants and nutraceuticals such as:
Alpha lipoic acid or R lipoic acid
- Protect organs from damage caused by higher than normal
insulin levels by cleaning the blood and by using:
The bottom line to preventing and reversing diabetes is to do
everything, and do it all at once. Since diabetes is not a
single straight line progression disease, you need to stop every
single "echo" so that no aspect of the disease can reverberate
and start the whole process moving downhill again. You need to
stop it all or it will all start again.
# # #
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