If you have diabetes, what I’m about to tell you in this blog post could prevent you from having a premature heart attack, save your eyesight, kidneys, legs, and nerves—even save your life. Diabetes has a devastating effect on virtually every system in the body, which sets the stage for a variety of diabetic complications. But, as I will explain, this devastation is largely preventable.
Nutrient Losses Cause Diabetic Complications
Diabetes is a nutritional wasting disease. The elevated blood sugar levels that characterize diabetes cause excessive urination. In fact, diabetes mellitus is taken from two Greek words meaning “to pass through” and “honey,” referring to excessive glucose-laden urination.
High blood sugar levels, which are caused by either lack of insulin or insulin resistance (type 1 or type 2 diabetes, respectively), overwhelm the kidneys’ capacity to reabsorb glucose as well as all water-soluble nutrients. Elevated blood sugar levels essentially act like an osmotic diuretic, washing out virtually everything.
Every time blood sugar rises and urination increases, patients with diabetes lose water, magnesium, zinc, B12, B6, folic acid, and many other nutrients. Although water is replaced by drinking, nothing is done to replenish the water-soluble nutrients that are also swept out.
Replacing Lost Vitamins and Minerals Is Critical
As a result of these continual nutritional losses, diabetes is our number one cause of blindness, amputation, and kidney failure, and it dramatically increases the risk of both heart attack and stroke. I believe that if you were to give a healthy person an osmotic diuretic every day without replacing nutrients, they would develop these (and other) diabetic complications. Let’s examine some of the nutrient losses and their consequences.
- Magnesium. Excessive urination washes out magnesium. Low magnesium levels are present in 25 percent of people with diabetes, and even those with levels considered to be “high” for diabetics don’t reach the average levels of the non-diabetic population.
As magnesium levels decrease, glucose control deteriorates because magnesium is essential to normal carbohydrate metabolism. Low levels are associated with diabetic retinopathy, and diabetics with the lowest magnesium levels have the greatest risk of going blind. Low magnesium is also associated with high blood pressure and vasospasm (constriction of blood vessels) as well as cardiovascular disease. Magnesium is involved in glucose transfer across cell membranes and improves insulin sensitivity and glucose control. It also helps decrease oxidative stress.
- Zinc. Zinc is another water-soluble nutrient that is flushed from the body, and as a result, many diabetics have low zinc levels. This deficiency may impair the immune system, particularly T-cell function, which could lead to more infections and non-healing ulcers. Zinc deficiency also can cause hair loss as well as diarrhea, which triggers further nutrient losses.
- B vitamins. B6, B12, and folic acid are water-soluble and therefore vulnerable to loss via excessive urination caused by diabetes. This leads to increased homocysteine levels and dramatically increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Low levels of B6 can cause glucose intolerance, depression, cracked lips, and dry skin. A B12 deficiency may have no obvious symptoms at first, but over time it can produce mental disturbances, anemia, and impaired nerve function. A lack of folic acid may bring on depression, forgetfulness, insomnia, irritability, and fatigue.
- Antioxidants. People with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are routinely low in virtually all of the water-soluble antioxidants, and those with type 2 diabetes are often low in fat-soluble vitamins A and E. At the same time, high blood sugar causes severe oxidative stress, which consumes whatever antioxidants are available. If antioxidants are not liberally replaced, then free radical damage is accelerated.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble antioxidant and vulnerable to urinary losses as well as poor cellular uptake. Blood cell levels of vitamin C are often substantially decreased in people with diabetes. As you probably know, severe vitamin C deficiency causes scurvy, which leads to bleeding gums, bruising, and poor wound healing. Furthermore, lack of vitamin C is linked with susceptibility to infection.
Folks, I don’t believe there is a single essential micronutrient that is not either wasted or used up in patients with diabetes. Not one. And the consequences of this fact are obvious.
The diabetic condition demands that these nutrients be replenished—and in large supply—to prevent the devastation that comes from nutritional deficiencies and ultimately leads to diabetic complications. Yet of the tens of thousands of patients with diabetes who have been treated at the Whitaker Wellness Institute since it opened in 1979, I do not recall a single one whose conventional physician had put him or her on a nutritional supplement regimen to counteract these inevitable losses.
Glucose Control Won’t Solve the Problem
It’s also important to realize that glucose control won’t solve the problem. Here’s why. Although good glucose control reduces urinary losses of micronutrients as well as the other stresses of the diabetic condition, it does not eliminate them, because even under good control there are regular periods of high blood sugar. This point is missed entirely by virtually every conventional physician.
However, intervening with aggressive therapies to correct the numerous nutritional losses—even after diabetic complications have already occurred—can often mitigate these complications and prevent future occurrences.
Help Yourself to Better Health
At my clinic, we routinely prescribe high doses of water- and fat-soluble vitamins and minerals to virtually all of our patients. However, for our patients with diabetes, we bump up those amounts by at least 50 percent to compensate for nutritional deficiencies and protect against diabetic complications.
If you have diabetes, it is imperative that you do the same and replenish these vital nutrients. If you are seeing a conventional doctor, ask this question: “Doctor, I understand that diabetes causes losses of many micronutrients in the urine. Would it be wise for me to be on a nutrient supplement regimen to counteract those losses?”
If your doctor says it’s not needed or gives you some garbage about lack of science or some other nonsense, run—don’t walk—to a physician with a different attitude toward nutritional supplementation. You will save yourself a whole lot of needless suffering.
Now it’s your turn: Have you used any other natural therapies to prevent or treat diabetic complications?
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