It is crucial that diabetics (and those predisposed to diabetes) understand the ways in which blood glucose causes damage and take active steps to interrupt these processes. The most notorious process is glycation, the same process that causes food to brown in an oven. Glycation (defined as sugar molecules reacting with proteins to produce nonfunctional structures in the body) is a key feature of diabetes-related complications because it compromises proteins throughout the body and is linked to nerve damage, heart attack, and blindness.
Oxidative stress is also central to the damage caused by diabetes. Diabetics suffer from high levels of free radicals that damage arteries throughout the body, from the eyes to the heart. Once again, it is important that diabetics understand their need for antioxidant therapy to help reduce oxidative stress and lower the risk of diabetic complications.
In one clinical study, vitamin C significantly increased blood flow and decreased inflammation in patients with both diabetes and coronary artery disease (Antoniades C et al 2004). Three studies suggest that vitamin C, along with a combination of vitamins and minerals (Farvid MS et al 2004), reduces blood pressure in people with diabetes (Mullan BA et al 2002) and increases blood vessel elasticity and blood flow (Mullan BA et al 2004).
Vitamin E has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes (Montonen J et al 2004). One double-blind trial found a reduction in the risk of cardiac autonomic neuropathy, or damage to the nerves that supply the heart, which is a complication of diabetes (Manzella D et al 2001).
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