Two Common Nutrients Could Help Painful Symptoms of Diabetes

Poor diet may play an important role in the development of diabetes, and eating healthily will lower your risk of getting it, if only by helping to keep your weight lower.  Some vitamins and minerals are more important than others are, not only in helping to prevent diabetes, but also in keeping someone who already has the condition in the best health.  In addition, a diet rich in minerals and vitamins – a diet full of fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, oily fish, and low fat dairy – is the best possible way for diabetics and non-diabetics alike to stay healthy.

A poor diet of junk food or cheap fatty foods may not actually cause diabetes, but it is a sure route to weight gain and obesity, a prime risk for the disease.  White sliced bread, for example, combines a high glycemic index with the absence of micronutrients that were milled from the whole grain during production.  These include chromium, vital for keeping the pancreas healthy and producing adequate insulin, and some B vitamins, which are needed for the maintenance of the endocrine system.

Whether or not poor diet causes diabetes, anyone diagnosed with the condition will need to learn better ways of eating to keep symptoms down and blood sugar controlled.

A recent study published in the Diabetes Care journal has highlighted the importance of Lipoic acid and topical capsaicin in keeping diabetics healthy and minimizing the impact of diabetic neuropathy, a symptom that can be painful and disabling.  Neuropathy occurs when long-term high blood sugar damages the nerves, leading to loss of sensation or even pain in the hands and feet.  The condition can lead in extreme cases to gangrene and the necessity for amputation, and may also affect other areas of the body.

Lipoic acid, or R-Alpha Lipoic, is an anti-oxidant sold as a dietary supplement in capsule form, but can also be manufactured by the human body.  It is found in most foods, especially offal and green leafy vegetables, though eating more of these does not necessarily raise levels in the body.  In the body it is important in the production of Glutathione, another anti-oxidant which aids the function of vitamins C and E.  As the body ages levels of Lipoic acid tend to fall.

A tiny chemical difference between the Lipoic acid made by the body and that produced commercially means the supplement form is actually more effectual, meaning taking capsules would be better for diabetics.  The substance is also currently being used in clinical trials  to test its effects in prevention of  cardiac disease and atherosclerosis.

Capsaicin is the “hot” component of chili peppers and currently being investigated by scientists as a treatment for type 1 diabetes and some cancers.  In laboratory experiments, it was seen to reverse diabetes in mice and may help regulate blood sugar levels.  It also releases substance p, which is a chemical transmitter of pain messages but after an initial jolt seems to numb the nerves to further pain.

Although both these substances hold promise for helping diabetics, the study also commented that, as with any supplement, taking large doses could be counter-productive and could cause further health problems.

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