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Diabetes Increases Heart Risks

February 4, 2015
Leigh Erin Connealy, M.D.

Diabetes is one of the scariest epidemics of our time. I’ve personally treated thousands of diabetic patients over the years. They make up just a small fraction of the 29 million Americans—and 387 million worldwide—who live with this disease.

Diabetes affects every inch of your body in some way. It puts your kidneys, nerves, eyes, feet, gums, teeth, and heart at risk of permanent damage.

As if that’s not bad enough, a recent study showed that diabetic women tend to develop serious heart complications more often than men.

This study followed 680 diabetic patients (56 percent men, 44 percent women). Researchers compared blood pressure, cholesterol, and A1c levels between the sexes. They found that women had significantly worse systolic blood pressure (the first of the two numbers in a reading). The women’s LDL (“bad”) cholesterol readings were much higher, too—by an average of 12 mg/dL. Overall, the women had a harder time keeping all three factors (blood pressure, cholesterol, and A1c) in healthy ranges.

Why do women fare so much worse than men? A couple factors could be to blame. First, studies show that doctors tend to (mistakenly) treat women less aggressively for heart disease.

Second, thanks to a natural drop in estrogen, women experience a spike in inflammation as they age. (Estrogen acts as a natural anti-inflammatory.) This surge in inflammation affects how efficiently the body uses insulin and influences blood pressure and cholesterol.

I can’t say it enough—man or woman, if you have diabetes, you must control it to limit your risk of complications.

And you’ll be happy to learn that there are safe, simple, inexpensive ways to do just that–without drugs, risks or side-effects.

Treating Diabetes Naturally

Changing your diet and exercising regularly are the two most important things you can do. Beyond that, most doctors prescribe medication (such as metformin) or insulin injections.

I have a problem with prescribing these drugs, especially insulin. I feel it causes more problems than it solves. One study actually found that insulin use made diabetics more prone to hypertension. It’s completely counterproductive!

Instead, I recommend taking nutrients that naturally control blood sugar. One of the best is berberine.

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The Drug-Free Diabetes Cure

Berberine targets AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), a metabolism regulator. Activating AMPK improves insulin sensitivity and helps move glucose into your cells, where it can be turned into energy.

A recent analysis of 27 studies showed that, berberine managed blood sugar and controlled blood pressure and cholesterol as well as or better than many drugs. And berberine delivers all of these powerful benefits without any negative side effects. It’s truly a win-win-win!

Other excellent treatment options for diabetes include:

  • Chromium, a trace mineral that improves blood sugar metabolism;
  • Vanadium, another trace mineral that lowers glucose and total/LDL cholesterol;
  • Gymnema sylvestre, an herb that reduces glucose and cholesterol, cuts sugar cravings, and helps to regenerate the pancreas.

Extra Support for Women

Women have special needs when it comes to managing diabetes and heart disease.

Estrogen and progesterone both play a role in how cells respond to insulin. Declining hormone levels after menopause can trigger fluctuations in blood sugar—much more so than in premenopausal women.

Estrogen also protects artery walls, helping to keep them flexible and blood flowing freely. A drop in estrogen tends to have the opposite effect, paving the way for potential heart problems.

For women, the first line of defense against heart and blood sugar concerns is to balance hormones.

Phytoestrogens are plant compounds that resemble the body’s natural estrogen and mimic it effects. In doing so, phytoestrogens can help balance hormones and relieve menopausal symptoms. Some of the most powerful include black cohosh, red clover, pueraria mirifica, soy, and hops.

I also recommend lowering inflammation. The best nutrients for this are omega-3 essential fatty acids, curcumin, and alpha lipoic acid (ALA). In addition to being a powerful anti-inflammatory, ALA helps convert glucose into energy, so it has double the benefit for diabetics.

Using this natural approach will set you up for better control of your hormones and blood sugar while preventing heart complications related to diabetes.

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  • Wanda Wyatt

    Shared on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you.

  • Wanda Wyatt

    Great article and good advice.


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