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The silent epidemic that is 3 times as deadly as COVID

Updated: Jan 18




When people think of the deadliest diseases in the world, their minds probably jump to the fact-acting, incurable ones that grab headlines from time to time. But in fact, many of these types of diseases do not rank in the top 10 causes of worldwide deaths. Perhaps even more surprising is that several of the deadliest diseases are partially preventable.


You may not believe it, but yes, diabetes it is!


It’s the silent epidemic that claims 4.2 million lives around the world every year, almost 3 times as many deaths as COVID-19. Experts have predicted that one in 10 of us will be affected by 2045. About 18 million people die every year from cardiovascular disease, which diabetes play a major predisposing factors.


The different types of Diabetes


There are two basic forms of diabetes, which is Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes.


Type 1 diabetes: Cannot be prevented and is caused by an autoimmune reaction in which the body’s immune system attacks the insulin-producing cells of pancreas. Thus, the pancreas can’t produce insulin. Other causes including genetic defects and viral infections could contribute to Type 1 diabetes.



Type 2 diabetes: The most common form of diabetes, which affects almost 90% of diabetics worldwide. In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin, or insulin can’t be used effectively. Type 2 diabetes can be linked to obesity, aging and may exhibit no early symptoms. Good news is, changing your lifestyle, like incorporating healthy diet, increase exercise and maintain healthy body weight could reverse the condition.



“Numbness or pain hands can be a sign of type-2 diabetes…”


Uncontrolled blood sugar levels can result in several complications. Early diagnosis can help in controlling the condition on time. One of the early signs of type-2 diabetes is visible in hands and fingers. If you experience stiffness and twitching of fingers, these can be the signs of type-2 diabetes.


Diabetic neuropathy



Uncontrolled blood sugar levels can contribute to poor blood circulation which can also damage the nerves. This further results in pain, sensation of tingling and even numbness of hands and feet. This condition is known as neuropathy. If left untreated, this condition can become worse and affect various organs further.


Nutritional supplements for the treatment of neuropathic pain


Several pharmacologic therapies have been demonstrated to be effective in neuropathic pain, however, it may not completely relieve neuropathic pain and are associated with significant adverse effects. Additionally, it has been suggested that effective treatment strategies to utilize a combination of pharmaceutical and nonpharmaceutical therapies to target pain and its effect on patients’ lives.


1. B vitamins for neuropathy

Low levels of vitamin B12 can lead to neuropathy. Metformin, a common medication used to manage diabetes, can decrease levels of vitamin B12. B complex vitamins, including thiamine (B1), pyridoxine (B6), folate (B9) and cyanocobalamin (B12), play a critical role in various physiological processes such as in immunity and metabolism. Some studies have shown administration of Vitamin Bs reduce global pain scores and analgesic therapy for patients with neuropathy, especially Vitamin B12, that plays an important role in nerve repair and myelination and thus improve symptoms of neuropathy, including pain.


2. Alpha-lipoic acid

Alpha-lipoic acid is an endogenous, sulfur-containing, free radical scavenger found in mitochondria. Alpha-lipoic acid may be useful in treating neuropathy caused by diabetes. A recent study has shown that it may lower blood sugar levels, improve nerve function, as well as relieving uncomfortable symptoms in the legs and arms. Besides that, alpha-lipoic acid also helps in protecting against oxidative damage in people with diabetic neuropathy.


3. Chromium

The administration of chromium can reverse manifestations of severe neuropathy, nerve conduction abnormalities and hyperglycemia in patient. Chromium is an essential metal that plays a role in many metabolic processes and in homeostasis. Containing trivalent ion, chromium has been proposed as a therapeutic agent to increase insulin sensitivity and improve lipid metabolism. Besides that, some studies have shown the association between low chromium concentrations in diabetes patients which could lead to impairment in insulin, glucose and lipid metabolism, resulting in increased cardiovascular risk.


Conventional treatments can be a preferable option since they have fewer side effects, not forgetting they may also benefit your health and well-being in other ways. But do always talk with your doctor before starting any new supplements or changing your treatment plan in any way.


 

References:

1. Tabish SA. Is Diabetes Becoming the Biggest Epidemic of the Twenty-first Century? Int J Health Sci (Qassim). 2007 Jul;1(2):V-VIII. PMID: 21475425; PMCID: PMC3068646.

2. Papanas N, Ziegler D. Efficacy of α-lipoic acid in diabetic neuropathy. Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2014 Dec;15(18):2721-31. doi: 10.1517/14656566.2014.972935. Epub 2014 Nov 10. PMID: 25381809.

3. Stein J, Geisel J, Obeid R. Association between neuropathy and B-vitamins: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Eur J Neurol. 2021 Jun;28(6):2054-2064. doi: 10.1111/ene.14786. Epub 2021 Mar 15. PMID: 33619867.

4. Cefalu WT, Hu FB. Role of chromium in human health and in diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2004 Nov;27(11):2741-51. doi: 10.2337/diacare.27.11.2741. Erratum in: Diabetes Care. 2013 Sep;36(9):2872. PMID: 15505017.

5. Kharroubi AT, Darwish HM. Diabetes mellitus: The epidemic of the century. World J Diabetes. 2015 Jun 25;6(6):850-67. doi: 10.4239/wjd.v6.i6.850. PMID: 26131326; PMCID: PMC4478580.

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