By Maureen Williams, ND
Healthnotes Newswire (July 14, 2005)
When people with type 2 diabetes supplement with chromium, an electrocardiogram (ECG) measurement believed to indicate a reduced risk of heart disease improves, according to the American Heart Journal (2005;149:632–6).
Type 2 diabetes (sometimes called adult-onset diabetes) is a chronic disease marked by inability to control blood sugar (glucose) levels. Blood sugar regulation depends in large part on the hormone insulin, which stimulates the entry of glucose from the blood into the cells. In many people with type 2 diabetes, however, the cells are no longer sensitive to insulin, a state known as insulin resistance. In such people, both blood glucose and insulin levels are elevated, and high blood levels of glucose and insulin can damage many tissues of the body, including the blood vessels. Heart disease risk is greatly increased in people with type 2 diabetes and the degree of risk has been found to correlate closely with the QTc interval.
Chromium is an essential trace mineral that enhances the effect of insulin in the body, potentially decreasing insulin resistance. Many, though not all, studies have shown that supplementing with chromium improves blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes.
An ECG measures the electrical impulses associated with the contraction and relaxation cycles of the heart muscles. A single cycle shows an ECG pattern of distinct changes that are named with the letters, P, Q, R, S, and T. The P wave reflects the contraction of the atria and the set of spikes and waves known as the QRST complex reflects the contraction of the ventricles. The duration of ventricular contraction, from initiation to relaxation, is measured by the length of the QRST complex and is known as the QTc interval. A number of studies have found that a long QTc interval is a strong risk factor for stroke, heart attack, and death.
The current research studied 50 people with type 2 diabetes who were managing their diabetes with diet alone and did not have evidence of serious complications such as heart or kidney failure. They were randomly assigned to receive either 1,000 mcg of chromium picolinate per day or placebo for three months. Each person then received the other treatment for a second three months. Physical exam, blood tests, and ECGs were performed at the beginning of the study, and after three and six months.
At the end of three months, insulin levels were significantly lower in the group using chromium than in the placebo group. The reduced insulin level was maintained in this group during the second three months of the study when they did not use chromium, suggesting that the effects of chromium supplementation persisted after treatment was stopped. The group that used chromium during the second three months had a similar drop in insulin levels by the end of the study. The QTc interval was also significantly shorter in the chromium group than in the placebo group at the end of the first three months. This reduction in QTc interval was maintained in the second three months, and the group that supplemented with chromium in the second three months had a similar reduction in the length of the QTc interval by the end of the study.
The results of this study show that supplementing with chromium can shorten the QTc interval in people with type 2 diabetes. This reduction in the length of the cardiac cycle is likely to indicate that the risk of heart disease has been reduced. Longer studies are needed to verify that chromium supplementation can have this benefit for people with high cardiac risk due to type 2 diabetes.
Maureen Williams, ND, received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Seattle, WA. She has a private practice in Quechee, VT, and does extensive work with traditional herbal medicine in Guatemala and Honduras. Dr. Williams is a regular contributor to Healthnotes Newswire.
White flour contains diabetes-causing contaminant alloxan:
You may want to think twice before eating your next sandwich on white bread. Studies show that alloxan, the chemical that makes white flour look "clean" and "beautiful," destroys the beta cells of the pancreas. That's right; you may be devastating your pancreas and putting yourself at risk for diabetes, all for the sake of eating "beautiful" flour. Is it worth it?
Scientists have known of the alloxan-diabetes connection for years; in fact, researchers who are studying diabetes commonly use the chemical to induce the disorder in Rats.
In the research sense, giving alloxan to an animal is similar to injecting that animal with a deadly virus, as both alloxan and the virus are being used specifically to cause illness. Every day, consumers ingest foods made with alloxan-contaminated flour. Would they just as willingly consume foods tainted with a deadly virus? Unless they had a death wish, they probably would not. Unfortunately, most consumers are unaware of alloxan and its potentially fatal link to diabetes because these facts are not well publicized by the food industry.
How does alloxan cause diabetes? According to Dr. Hari Sharma's Freedom from Disease, the uric acid derivative initiates free radical damage to DNA in the beta cells of the pancreas, causing the cells to malfunction and die. When these beta cells fail to operate normally, they no longer produce enough insulin, or in other words, they cause one variety of adult-onset type 2 diabetes. Alloxan's harmful effects on the pancreas are so severe that the Textbook of Natural Medicine calls the chemical "a potent beta-cell toxin." However, even though the toxic effect of alloxan is common scientific knowledge in the research community, the FDA still allows companies to use it when processing foods we ingest.
The FDA and the white flour industry could counter-argue that, if alloxan were to cause diabetes, a higher proportion of Americans would be diabetic. After all, more consumers consume white flour on a regular basis than are actually diabetic. This point is valid, but it does not disprove the alloxan-diabetes connection. While alloxan is one cause of adult-onset type 2 diabetes, it is of course not the only cause. As the Textbook of Natural Medicine states, "current theory suggests an hereditary beta-cell predisposition to injury coupled with some defect in tissue regeneration capacity" may be a key cause. For alloxan to cause injury to an individual's beta cells, the individual must have the genetic susceptibility to injury. This is similar to the connection between high-cholesterol foods and heart disease. Eating high-cholesterol foods causes heart disease, especially in people who have family histories of heart disease. The link between alloxan and diabetes is as clear and solid as the link between cholesterol and heart disease.
If you've been eating white bread for years and you have a family history of diabetes, all hope is not lost for you. Studies show that you can reverse the effects of alloxan by supplementing your diet with vitamin E. According to Dr. Gary Null's Clinicians Handbook of Natural Healing, vitamin E effectively protected lab rats from the harmful effects of administered alloxan. Now, you're not a lab rat, but you're a mammal and vitamin E is definitely worth adding to your daily regimen of nutritional supplements, especially if you have a history of eating foods made with white flour and are at high risk for diabetes.
Even if you are already diabetic, some simple changes to your diet can help treat your diabetes. First of all, stop eating foods made with white flour. Even though you already have diabetes, vitamin E supplements can still help you, as can many common foods. Garlic, for example, does wonders for diabetes. As Dr. Benjamin Lau states in his book Garlic for Health, "When fed garlic, the rabbits' elevated blood sugar dropped almost as much as it did when they were given the antidiabetic drug tolbutamide. Researchers postulated that garlic may improve the insulin effect."
If you can't handle the taste of natural garlic, you can take it in widely available supplements. Aloe vera is a traditional diabetic remedy in the Arabian Peninsula, and its therapeutic characteristics are now gaining worldwide acceptance in the treatment of diabetes. According to both human and animal research studies, aloe vera lowers blood glucose levels by an unknown mechanism. According to the Clinicians Handbook of Natural Healing, this natural hypoglycemic effect extended over a period of 24 hours. Adding onions to your diet (along with the garlic) can also significantly reduce your blood sugar level. Additionally, as Dr. Michael T. Murray writes in The Healing Power of Herbs, studies show that ginseng controls glucose in both diabetic humans and diabetic laboratory animals.
It all comes down to asking if putting yourself at risk for diabetic coma, blindness, limb amputation and death is worth eating white bread. If you're willing to risk your quality of life and your life itself, then go ahead and eat all the foods made with white flour you want. However, if you want to stop poisoning yourself with alloxan, a known toxic chemical, then make a few simple dietary changes. Eat groceries made with whole-grain wheat flour, not processed white flour.
Christopher Wiechert's Healthblogger is for educational or informational purposes only, and is not intended to diagnose or provide treatment for any condition. If you have any concerns about your own health, you should always consult with a healthcare professional. To be removed from this e-mail program, reply back and say unsubscribe.