High levels of glucose autooxidize-that is, start a chain reaction that produces large amounts of free radicals and "advanced glycation products," both of which damage the body. Free radicals stimulate inflammatory responses and, in this way, people with diabetes develop high levels of inflammation. This situation has been well documented in several studies that have found sharp elevations of CRP (C-reactive protein) and interleukin-6 in people with diabetes. Because of the ability of inflammatory cytokines to stimulate one another, people with diabetes typically have a strong undercurrent of inflammation, which increases the risk of other diseases, such as heart disease.
Nutrients That Can Help
Many supplements can lessen the inflammation in diabetes, but in this case, supplements can be like bailing water in a sinking boat. It is essential that the underlying diet be corrected.
That said, a key objective of supplementation should be to lower glucose levels and improve insulin function, which should in turn reduce inflammation.
A lack of chromium results in diabetes-like symptoms. Not surprising, therefore, supplements of chromium have been shown to improve insulin function and lower glucose levels.
Vitamins E and C improve glucose tolerance and have the added benefit of lowering levels of CRP and interleukin-6. The effect of these vitamins on easing diabetic complications may be greater than their glucose-lowering properties.
The omega-3 fatty acids forms the building blocks of many of the body's natural anti-inflammatory compounds. Fish oil supplements, which are typically produced from salmon oil, are especially rich in eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Although both fatty acids are essential for health, EPA plays a more important role in the body's defenses against inflammation.
Fish oils actually help rebuild articular (joint) cartilage. Bruce Caterson, Ph.D., of Cardiff University, Wales, led a team of molecular biologists who discovered specifically why fish oils reduce inflammation and inhibit the breakdown of cartilage, one of the characteristics of osteoarthritis.