Diabetes is running rampant in the U.S., and it shows no signs of letting up. Sugar is in so much of our food and drinks, and the obesity that it leads to, as well as lack of activity, are leading the parade to host of health problems associated with diabetes. There are two types of diabetes, types 1 & 2. Type 1 is also called juvenile diabetes, in which the body’s immune system destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Most people will require daily insulin injections. Type 2, also called adult-onset diabetes, occurs when the cells in the body become resistant to insulin, a hormone that carries glucose (blood sugar) from the blood to the body’s cells. Initially, the pancreas secretes more insulin, but after a few years production declines. MOST cases are caused by obesity and inactivity. A major problem with high blood sugar and diabetes is that initially there are no symptoms, and the damage it causes can occur for years until the symptoms arise.  Key markers are high cholesterol, triglycerides, and high blood pressure. The good thing about type 2 diabetes is that it responds well to lifestyle changes, especially if it is caught early.

Muscle cells, which take up a good portion of glucose in the blood, have receptor sites on their cell walls that welcome it’s entry into the cell. Inactivity and obesity cause these receptors to have less affinity for the glucose, causing blood sugar levels to stay elevated. High glucose causes heart disease, organ failure (especially eyes and kidneys), nerve damage, and other health issues.

Reducing sugar in your diet and exercise are a great 1-2 punch that will lower glucose levels. Exercise actually increasesthe affinity of  the receptors on the muscle cells, acting kind of like a sponge drawing glucose out of the blood and lowering blood sugar. Do you need any other reason to exercise?

Another way to help control blood sugar is vinegar (I use unpasteurized apple-cider vinegar). Vinegar contains a substance which interferes with carbohydrate (sugar) metabolism, lowering blood sugar levels. It also has weight-loss ability. Remember, eating high sugar or starch meals increases insulin levels, and insulin loves to store fat. Most people don’t want to store fat, they want to use it for energy. One study showed that people taking 2 tbsp of vinegar before 2 meals/day normalized blood sugar levels and caused an average weight-loss of 2-3 pounds in 4 weeks. If you can’t down it straight, mix it with a glass of water about 10 minutes before a meal.

Stay well, John R. Blilie, M.S.