Diabetes is hard enough, but high blood sugar is a warning sign for more than meets the eye. In fact, unregulated blood sugar and insulin are connected to the most prevalent diseases in the US today. And it’s not just blood sugar that increases the risk of chronic disease. In many cases, existing illnesses can trigger insulin resistance that leads to diabetes, as well.
The link between diabetes and chronic conditions makes it hard to point fingers at where one disease begins and the other ends.
One thing we do know is that regulating blood sugar is a “must” for preventing and overcoming the four most prevalent chronic diseases today.
1. Autoimmune Disease
Autoimmune conditions are far-reaching and still not fully understood. High blood sugar triggers conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, and ALS because it increases inflammation and leads to gut damage. In turn, both of those results mean insulin is less effective, and that causes blood sugar to skyrocket. Together, autoimmunity and high blood sugar are a vicious cycle that leaves you on a crash course to worsening symptoms and deteriorating health.
2. Hormone Imbalances
Hormones are chemical messengers that direct functions throughout the body; you can think of them at homing pigeons. Glands throughout your body send out specialized hormones, and they must find their destination to deliver the message. Hormones regulate stress, hunger, metabolism, mood, libido and more. For you to feel your best, endocrine glands, hormones, and their receptors must be in good shape.
Many factors can throw hormones out of whack such as stress, toxins, poor diet, obesity, diseases, and the like. Insulin resistance and high blood sugar interfere with hormones like, thyroid, cortisol, and estrogen. But hormone imbalances can also cause damage that leads to high blood sugar. Just like autoimmunity, it goes both ways.
Cancer and high blood sugar go hand in hand. Diabetes increases the risk of cancer development and reduces the effectiveness of cancer treatment. In fact, diabetes is linked to a higher risk of liver, pancreas, endometrium, bladder, breast, colorectal, esophagus, and biliary tract cancers as well as lymphoma, in some cases doubling your chances. Cancer is an area of constant and extensive research, but here’s what we know: A diet high in sugar, high blood sugar or insulin, and obesity damage cells, cause disease, and accelerate aging. Cancer uses glucose to grow and steals sugar from other healthy cells. Even without high blood sugar, a high-sugar diet can help cancer grow.
4. Cardiovascular Disease
More than 80% of diabetics over 65 years old die of heart disease or stroke, so there’s an obvious link between high blood sugar and heart health. Both are based in our old friend, inflammation. High blood sugar creates damage in blood vessels, and cholesterol is produced to fix that damage. While your liver pumps out cholesterol to repair and build new cells, your immune system dispatches inflammatory cells. Of course, you can have heart disease without high blood sugar; you just need another source of chronic inflammation. On the other hand, most people with high blood sugar will end up with cardiovascular disease at some point.
As you can see, there are complex but common connections between all these diseases and high blood sugar. As doctors and patients, we need to make sure that we are looking at all factors to give the body the best chance at preventing and healing disease. As you now know, these diseases do not occur separately from one another; they manifest in concert with each other.
Looking for a Diabetes expert in Charlotte? Come to Novis Health!