Diet and exercise are the keys to metabolic wellness, but when the lock is jammed, practitioners can help support the metabolic system naturally.
Metabolic syndrome, also known as insulin resistance syndrome, is the combination of risk factors that raise the likelihood of heart disease or other health problems like stroke or diabetes. There are five main conditions that are associated with metabolic syndrome: abdominal obesity, high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol levels (good cholesterol), high blood pressure and high fasting blood sugar. In order to be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, patients must have at least three of these risk factors.
While these risk factors alone are cause for concern, having a combination of these issues increases the chances for major health problems. The American Heart Association noted that metabolic syndrome affects approximately 34 percent of adults, and places them at higher risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke and other diseases related to fatty buildup in artery walls. Along with obesity, both a lack of physical activity and genetic factors are underlying causes of metabolic syndrome. However, diet and lifestyle remain the main causes for concern.
Many factors of metabolic syndrome are associated with insulin resistance, which is known to cause cells to lose their sensitivity to insulin. It is vital in converting sugar to fuel, and is needed in every cell, said Lou Paradise, president and chief of research at New York-based Topical BioMedics, Inc.
“Refined sugars crash into the mitochondrial ATP production pathways like a bull in a china shop with the result being the cell membranes’ insulin receptors being damaged,” said Jack Tips, PhD, CCN, with Utah-based Systemic Formulas. “As more insulin is generated to dispose of the excess sugar, the side effects of that heroic effort are the unwanted aspects of insulin’s activity: storage of sugar as fat, arterial inflammation, brain inflammation, high blood pressure and cellular damage.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2014 there were a total of 29.1 million people (approximately 9.3 percent of the population) with diabetes in America. Rick Simpson, CEO of Ultra Laboratories (Carson, CA) and Dr. Mark Stengler, a licensed naturopathic medical doctor, noted that approximately 50 percent of American adults have either diabetes or pre-diabetes.
On top of those staggering numbers, the American Diabetes Association said that approximately 8.1 million diabetics in the U.S. don’t even know they have diabetes. While there are different types of diabetes, type 1, type 2 and gestational, dietary factors play an important role in each of them.
“The majority of diabetics get the condition because of poor diet and lifestyle. Poor diet includes, large portion sizes, high sugar and high fat meal choices,” said Greg Macpherson, CEO of MitoQ Ltd. in New Zealand. “MitoQ Blood Sugar is our primary product aimed at assisting people with poor blood sugar control and its sequelae.”
The formula helps the body naturally manage blood sugar levels, supports mitochondrial function and oxidative stress (associated with diabetes) and evidence suggests that MitoQ is organ protective over the long term, and may delay the onset of the ramifications of poor chronic blood sugar control, according to the company.
MitoQ, on it’s own, is a mitochondria-targeted antioxidant that supports mitochondrial function and reduces oxidative stress. There is a clear link between high blood sugar and mitochondrial dysfunction and increased intracellular oxidative stress, Machpherson said. The outcome of chronic high blood sugar presents as an accelerated aging syndrome with diabetics having a much higher and earlier incidence of cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, neurodegenerative diseases and more.
In addition to containing MitoQ, MitoQ Blood Sugar includes cinnamon, which has been shown to support the metabolism at the cell receptor site, act as a powerful antioxidant to help protect against the damaging effects of glucose on the cardiovascular systems and support healthy cholesterol levels. The formula also contains zinc amino acid chelate (a good source of bioavailable zinc), which is involved in the production, storage and release of insulin from the pancreas; and chromium picolinate, which is needed to regulate blood glucose and reduce sugar cravings.
Studies support chromium supplement intervention to support healthy glucose metabolism, supporting energy production and weight management as well as supporting cardiovascular health and healthy cholesterol. Chromium picolinate is the most effective form of chromium to support blood sugar levels and is absorbed better than other forms, Macpherson said.
Ultra Laboratories also offers chromium as a supplement for those with type 2 diabetes. According to Simpson, there are a number of studies, including double-blind, placebo-controlled studies, that demonstrate chromium supplementation in doses of 200 to 1,000 mcg daily that show beneficial effects. The natural Medicines Comprehensive database summarized, “Some evidence shows that taking chromium picolinate orally can decrease fasting blood glucose, insulin levels and glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1C), as well as increase insulin sensitivity in people with type 2 diabetes.”
Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) also offers benefits to those with metabolic syndrome. According to Natural Medicine Comprehensive database, used orally or intravenously, ALA “seems to improve insulin sensitivity, fasting blood glucose levels and glucose disposal in patients with type 2 diabetes.”
Ultra Laboratories offers other products that support metabolic health, including gymnema sylvestre, which improves blood sugar control when combined with oral hypoglycemic drugs, cinnamon bark extract (Cinnulin) which is a water soluble form that reduces glucose levels, and resveratrol which has shown to reduce fasting blood glucose significantly, according to the Natural Medicines Comprehensive database.
Dr. Tips explained that the Systemic Formulas offer much more than the key vitamins, minerals, fats and proteins that the body requires for healthy glucose metabolism. The company’s products also contain scientifically-backed herbs and ingredients that the body can use to self-regulate its utilization of glucose receptors and citric acid cycle processes for cellular energy.
Systemic Formulas’ Synulin “contains chromium 4OH isoleucinate—a proprietary and patented nutrient that specifically addresses the normal cellular metabolic role that chromium plays in the induction and utilization of glucose through the cell membrane. That combined with other key nutrients and herbs provides a broad nutritional support for the cells’ myriad needs,” Dr. Tips said.
High or low blood sugar levels aren’t the only problems associated with metabolic syndrome. As mentioned above, the likelihood of encountering heart disease and stroke are still there, but what about damage to nerves, loss of eyesight and other major health concerns? After prolonged exposure to high blood sugar, nerve damage occurs causing diabetic neuropathy.
While the reasoning behind why this happens remains unclear, the Mayo Clinic said that high blood sugar interferes with the ability of the nerves to transmit signals and weakens the walls of the capillaries that supply the nerves with oxygen and nutrients.
The longer a patient has a combination of any of the following factors: diabetes, kidney disease, poor blood sugar control, unhealthy weight, or is a smoker, the odds of nerve damage, particularly neuropathy, drastically increases. “We have found from our interaction with practitioners and their patients that joint pain and, even more so, nerve pain (peripheral neuropathy) lead to a less active/more sedentary lifestyle as a precursor/contributing factor that increases the risks of someone suffering from the effects of metabolic syndrome,” said Paradise.
The more sedentary a patient becomes, the less they exercise—defeating the purpose of good diet and exercise as a treatment.
The support provided by Topical BioMedics, Inc. for people suffering from metabolic syndrome is focused on resolving the pain issues so that patients can reengage in a more active lifestyle, which is an important part of the treatment protocol to reduce both the risk factors and effects of metabolic syndrome, Paradise said.
With more than three decades of experience in addressing pain on a cellular level Topricin BioMedics, Inc. offers Topricin Original Pain Relief and Healing Cream, Topricin Foot Therapy Pain Relief Cream, MyPainAway Fibro Cream, as well as Topricin for Children. These products are complex combinations of natural biomedicines. They are formulated to treat the skin first then to help detox the pain site through the lymphatic system, taking pressure off micro-circulation to restore oxygen to damaged cells, Paradise continued.
Weight & Sugar Control
Getting to an optimal weight is a difficult but necessary task for those with metabolic syndrome. Dr. Charlotte Erlanson-Albertsson from the University of Lund, Sweden, was investigating natural inhibitors of pancreatic lipase—the enzyme that digests dietary fats, which are not absorbable, into absorbable fats, since fats are the primary stimulus to releasing the body’s satiety hormone, cholecystokinin (CKK), said Jim Roufs, scientific advisor for raw material supplier based in Sweden, Greenleaf Medical. In her search to find a natural inhibitor of fat digestion, she came across thylakoids, the membranes that carry out photosynthesis in green plants. The primary focus she chose to study was appetite control. Anyone who has attempted to stick to a diet knows the difficulty in choosing the right foods over the wrong ones.
Dr. Erlanson-Albertsson chose to study the thylakoids in spinach and started looking into creating a product that not only reduces hunger overall, but reduces cravings for unhealthy foods even more. This would help individuals attempting to lose weight and in turn help reduce the negative effects of having excess bodyweight, such as elevated glucose levels both in pre-diabetic and full-fledged diabetic individuals, Roufs continued.
Greenleaf Medical has utilized the ingredient in ProSpinach (a appethyl powder to control cravings), SatisFIVE (flavored appetite control), Appethyl by Green Polkadot Box and Dr. David Williams by Healthy Directions. A common question that is asked about Appethyl, is how much spinach would you need to eat in order to reap the benefits of the extract?
“It is impossible to determine since Appethyl is processed in a particular way so as to make the product ‘bioactive’ the moment it is ingested allowing a person to reap the benefits of this product even after just one dose. Contrast this with fresh spinach that needs to be digested before releasing the active components that lie within each spinach cell, which by the time this happens, it is too late to reap the appetite suppressing effects,” Roufs said.
When one does ingest one serving of Appethyl, 5 grams, it is equal to ingesting approximately three cups of fresh spinach, Roufs continued.
The difference between ingesting fresh spinach and the thylakoids extract is that Appethyl becomes active the moment it is ingested, which allows the extract to temporarily inhibit fat digestion, while the latter is not since the thylakoids in fresh spinach cells are inactive.
This product is derived from a healthy food, has shown to significantly reduce cravings for unhealthy foods, and has two well-controlled clinical trials demonstrating significant weight loss, and since excess body fat is the primary reason for having diabetes, losing the excess body fat only helps to reduce the excess amount of sugar in the blood, according to the company.
The standard American diet often includes large amounts of fats, sugars and carbs that affect the body’s ability to process sugars from food into energy, harming the metabolism and ability to convert the mass amount of sugars into fuel for the body. Without a properly functioning metabolism, the glucose that the digestive track breaks down is released into the blood stream, and without enough insulin to help absorb the glucose and use it in the body blood glucose levels skyrocket.
Again, diet and lifestyle are key factors in reversing or limiting these damaging affects. However, restrictive diets can be difficult, particularly when there are cravings for sweets. Diabetics need to be careful when it comes to ingesting high sugar content, and many turn to artificial sweeteners, which surprisingly, can lead to an increase in appetite.
David Munk, a writer at Utah-based Xlear, maker of XyloSweet and Lite&Sweet natural sweeteners, said that these two products are the closest tasting and baking experience to sugar out of all natural sugar replacements. “Other natural sweeteners on the market are much sweeter than sugar making it more difficult to use as a true sugar replacement,” Munk continued.
Many natural sweeteners claim no calories, suggesting that the replacement is healthy. However, according to studies, zero-calorie sweeteners can lead to obesity, Munk said.
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, “the brain responds to sweetness with signals to eat more. By providing a sweet taste without any calories, however, artificial sweeteners cause us to crave more sweet foods and drinks, which can add up to excess calories.” XyloSweet and Lite&Sweet both have calories, although fewer than sugar, 40 percent and 75 percent less respectively. XyloSweet is 100 percent xylitol, which is a natural sweetener found in fruits and vegetables. Xylitol doesn’t trigger an insulin reaction, according to Munk, which makes it a perfect sweetener for diabetics.
Lite&Sweet, is also made with xylitol with the addition of erythitol, a sugar substitute that looks and tastes like sugar. This blend of xylitol and erythitol doesn’t give gastric issues either, Munk said. These sweeteners, while offering a truer taste to sugar than other artificial sweeteners, are also known to have oral health benefits as well.
Nutrition expert and co-founder of Hippocrates Health Institute, Brian Clement, said that diet and exercise is the “entire ball of wax when it comes to blood sugar concerns.” Diabetes in mainstream medicine is considered a chronic disease.
“The use of oral or injectable insulins are commonly employed often without guidance in changing lifestyles. We have observed a dramatic increase of people seeking personal responsibility in their conquest of blood sugar concerns,” Clement said.
“One of the most common medications is Glucophage, which I believe is the safest of the diabetes medications. If treatments have fallen out of favor it’s because they’re not addressing the deeper cause like inflammation and microbiome abnormalities. It’s not just obesity that causes diabetes, and treatments need to be multi-layered,” Dr. Raphael Kellman, director of the Kellman Center for Integrative and Functional Medicine and author of The Microbiome Diet, said.
In order to incorporate natural products and dietary supplements into a patient’s program, natural practitioners need to do so methodically, Dr. Kellman said. Starting with the foundation and use targeting compounds to heal the gut and microbiome, and reduce inflammation. After that, you can add supplements and herbs that affect insulin resistance.
Initially, doctors gave insulin to patients with diabetes, however while helpful to those with type 1 [diabetes], an insulin deficiency, type 2 diabetics have insulin resistance. With this resistance, and the addition of more insulin into the body, the treatments normally result in massive weight gain, causing even worsening insulin resistance, Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, director of the Practitioner Alliance Network, said.
“Sadly, almost every diabetes treatment has resulted in actually increasing morbidity and mortality, with the exception of the old medication metformin. As is usually the case, the toxicities don’t seem to become publicized until after the medication’s patent wears off and generics become available. People have become appropriately aware of the limitations that standard medicines face treating diabetes, and are turning to holistic alternatives,” Dr. Teitelbaum continued.
Practitioners working with patients who have metabolic diseases should know about their history and lifestyle habits. Clement has found that education and emotional and practical support is crucial.
The most critical treatment step for metabolic syndrome and blood sugar issues is first and foremost: avoid excess sugar intake and all of its forms. “It is recommended that people begin by getting rid of soda and fruit juices,” Dr. Teitelbaum said.
“Everyone agrees this type of diet change is beneficial for health but additionally, research shows these foods have an adverse effect on the microbiome which in turn causes insulin resistance and ultimately elevated glucose,” Dr. Kellman added. He stressed the importance to eat plant-based natural foods, and to avoid processed and refined foods.
Small fish, vegetables (especially root vegetables), and foods that contain prebiotics like jicama, radish and Jerusalem artichoke are beneficial choices.
Supplementation is also important—particularly supplements that can help improve glucose control and insulin sensitivity. These supplements include things like chromium, gymnema sylvestre and cinnamon (mentioned as previously), vanadium, banaba leaf, and even butyrate to help heal the intestine, Dr. Kellman said.
The herb, berberine at 200 to 500 mg, two to three times a day will also help lower blood sugar, as well as brewers yeast at about 9 g daily, Dr. Teitelbaum shared.
In the last six decades at the Hippocrates Health Institute, Clement said, they have removed high saturated fats and sugars that cause blood sugar concerns. The institute also utilizes high protein plant-based diet and high protein plant-based supplements in the battle against blood sugar regulation. “Protein figuratively acts as a magnet, coagulating and collecting the sugar in the blood, helping to remedy the insulin and pancreatic concerns that this disorder [metabolic syndrome] brings,” Clement said.
Dr. Teitelbaum makes sure patients optimize their insulin sensitivity by getting some sun and vitamin D, exercising and optimizing thyroid and testosterone levels, making sure they are not too high in women and optimizing the levels in men.
By understanding the deeper causes, practitioners can better serve and help their patients when it comes to their blood sugar and metabolic health. “By improving overall health, the metabolic function will improve as well,” Dr. Kellman concluded. “Diet, exercise, sleep and stress levels all play a part. Movement and a clean diet that nourishes the body and the needs of the microbiome can have a great impact.”
For More Information:
GreenLeaf Medical, +46 70 869 27 06, www.gl-medical.com
MitoQ Ltd., (888) 318-9464, www.mitoq.com
Systemic Formulas, (800) 445-4647, www.systemicformulas.com
Topical BioMedics, Inc., (845) 871-4900, www.topricin.com
Ultra Laboratories, (424) 293-3440, www.ultralaboratories.com
Xlear, (877) 599-5327, www.xlear.com