Eight per cent of the adult population in Australia suffers from type 2 diabetes. This condition – along with its less common cousin, type 1 diabetes – may induce some devastating complications affecting our microcirculation (the circulation within our smallest blood vessels).
At worst, these complications could lead to heart disease, stroke and blockages in the arteries to the legs known as peripheral vascular disease. Additionally, all forms of diabetes may cause problems with our microcirculation; potentially damaging the small blood vessels in the eyes, resulting in a condition known as diabetic retinopathy, damaging the kidneys leading to diabetic nephropathy, and also affecting the peripheral nerves, a condition known as peripheral neuropathy.
You’re more at risk from these harmful macrocirculatory effects if you have specific cholesterol abnormalities linked to diabetes, a more significant risk for hypertension – or are a smoker. That’s the bad news out the way.
A new study, published November 24, in the journal Science Translational Medicine, gives hope to people suffering from microcirculation health disorders related to their diabetes. The study examines the ability of a chemical known as RAGE229 to potentially reverse the damaging effects of these conditions on the end organs, such as the kidneys and the eyes.
Current thinking on diabetes has it that the majority of complications seen in the microcirculation are more often related to diabetic control and involve difficulty in maintaining a healthy blood sugar level. Elevated blood sugar levels interact with a variety of proteins and fats to create harmful products known as advanced glycosylated end products (AGEs). These AGEs basically cause the microcirculation to become sluggish and thus diminish the function of the organs affected by these chemicals.
AGEs have the potential to kickstart disease in all organs in the body. There is a receptor on the outer surface of our cells known as RAGE and this acts as the receptor for AGE products. High levels of sugar in the blood stream leads to particles that rip apart a variety of cellular components, including DNA. The damage created by all of the above leads to molecules called damage-associated molecular patterns or DAMPS.
The interaction between DAMPS binding to RAGE leads to a tail of toxic chemicals injuring the cell.
The new Science Translational Medicine study provides a beacon of light because it has shown early promising signs that the RAGE229 chemicals may be harnessed to potentially reverse the damaging effects of AGEs in our bodies.
At present, this has only been demonstrated in mice, where it has shown a degree of reversal in kidney damage and other parameters of organ injury. The scientists involved are working to find derivations of the RAGE229 molecule to hopefully develop a drug candidate that could be taken by diabetics to reverse organ damage.
Diabetes in all its forms can lead to devastating vascular effects on a variety of organs in our bodies. To give one example, many medical scientists are now referring to Alzheimer’s disease as type 3 diabetes, suggesting that if you survive vascular events in your 60s and 70s as a type 2 diabetic, it is relatively common to develop Alzheimer’s disease because of the profound effects of microvascular damage in diabetics.
A study performed in South Asians living in Southern California demonstrated clearly that sticking to aggressive lifestyle changes is four times more powerful than drug therapy for the management of Type 2 diabetes to prevent vascular complications. Type 2 diabetes is very common in this ethnic group.
In fact, the vast majority of diseases affecting our modern world are preventable through early detection, significant lifestyle intervention including achieving ideal body weight, consuming high-quality nutrition involving eating less calories and more natural food, combined with a regular exercise program.
Apart from my often-quoted five keys to healthy living, the appropriate use of orthodox medicine and evidence-based supplementation is a superb adjunct to lifestyle change.
Thus, my strong advice to you is not to wait until the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes to start your lifestyle intervention. The time to start is right now
IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.