The body’s cells, especially brain and red blood cells, obtain their energy needs from the glucose (sugar) that circulates in the bloodstream. There is an optimum amount of glucose that our body needs. Too high a level of glucose, is just as bad as too little. The body uses insulin, a hormone, to support healthy levels of blood sugar. Individuals with diabetes cannot properly control their blood glucose levels, and are therefore at risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, eye, kidney, skin, and nervous system complications.
The probability of getting diabetes is especially high in obese individuals. Fat cells, especially those found around one’s waist, release pro-inflammatory cytokines. The production of these immune factors result in inflammatory responses that destroy insulin-producing cells, making it difficult for the person to control their blood glucose.
Dr. Umut Ozcan of Children’s Hospital Boston, has stated that “For 20 years, inflammation has been seen as detrimental, whereas it is actually beneficial.” Research demonstrates that obese individuals have difficulty in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels due to imbalances of inflammatory molecules. Some proteins triggered by inflammation help the body control glucose levels, whereas other types of inflammatory molecules are detrimental to maintaining healthy glucose levels.
Dr. Ozcan continues, “It may be that inflammatory pathways are not working optimally and there could be a resistance to the cytokines that mediate the inflammation.”.
Restoring immune homeostasis, balance, by helping the body control excessive inflammation may reduce the symptoms of diabetes or the risk of getting the condition in the first place. Lifestyle changes, rather than medication, are the best way to regain immune balance.
Please look for our next posting that will describe ways that one can help correct imbalances between pro-inflammatory (molecules that lead to inflammatory responses) and anti-inflammatory cytokines (cell messages).