A ground-breaking article from The Netherlands shows that lack of exercise is probably the most common cause of cell damage in diabetics today (Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.  April, 2013).  A high rise in blood sugar after meals, is a major cause of the horrendous cell damage in diabetics. Exercise can prevent blood sugar from rising too high after meals and destroying the cells in your body.

The authors studied sixty men with type II diabetes, which is caused by inability to respond to insulin, not by lack of insulin.  They showed that a single bout of exercise markedly lowered rises in blood sugar after meals throughout that day. The new information is that diabetics who thought they were controlled by having normal blood levels of HBA1C (the test that measures cell damage) were still getting considerable cell damage caused by higher-than-normal rises in blood The authors also showed that exercise markedly lowered these rises in blood sugar after meals.  Other studies show that many people who are not diabetic, still have high rises in blood sugar levels after they eat, which can cause considerable cell damage even though they are not classified as diabetics.

WHAT CAUSES CELL DAMAGE IN DIABETICS?  Every cell in your body is like a balloon full of fluid. Cell damage is caused by sugar sticking to the outer surface of a cell membrane.  Once stuck on a cell, sugar can never get off.  The sugar is converted by a series of chemical reactions from glucose to sorbitol, a sugar alcohol that destroys the cell. This is why diabetes can damage cells in every part of your body, which means that diabetes can cause blindness, deafness, dementia, heart attacks, strokes, impotence, kidney failure, liver failure, loss of feeling in your feet, and so forth.

HOW CAN YOU PREVENT HIGH RISES IN BLOOD SUGAR?  Sugar sticks to cells when your blood sugar rises too high.   The higher the rise in blood sugar, the more sugar sticks to cells. Blood sugar rises highest just after you eat.

You can keep blood sugar from rising too high by slowing the absorption of food from your gut, by avoiding foods that are known to cause a high rise in blood sugar, and by eating high- fiber foods that slow the absorption of other foods.  You can also keep your blood sugar lower by contracting your muscles before and after you eat.

EXERCISE MAKES MUSCLES MORE SENSITIVE TO INSULIN AND ALLOWS MUSCLES TO TAKE UP SUGAR WITHOUT NEEDING INSULIN.   Resting muscles draw virtually no sugar from your bloodstream. On the other hand, contracting muscles can draw sugar from the bloodstream without even needing insulin.  Furthermore, exercise makes the muscle cells far more sensitive to insulin so that more sugar can be removed from the bloodstream with far less insulin.

YOU NEED TO EXERCISE EVERY DAY.  The ability of muscles to remove sugar from the bloodstream is maximal during exercise. The more intensely you exercise, the greater the ability of muscles to remove sugar from the bloodstream.  This effect is at its peak during exercise and for up to an hour after you finish exercising.  It tapers off after that and is usually gone completely after about 17 hours.

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO EXERCISE?  The best time to exercise is either just before or just after you eat.  If you exercise just after you eat, your muscles can pull sugar from the bloodstream as fast is it is absorbed.  If you eat right after you finish exercising, your muscles still have an extra hour to draw sugar maximally from the bloodstream.

OTHER THINGS YOU CAN DO TO PREVENT CELL DAMAGE:

* Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. They are full of fiber that delays absorption of sugar from other food sources.

* Avoid sugared drinks as the sugar in liquid form is absorbed faster than sugar in solid foods.  You can take sugared drinks if you need extra energy during vigorous exercise, since contracting muscles will remove sugar rapidly from the bloodstream.

* Restrict all sugar-added foods

* Avoid red meat.  The saturated fats in red meat block insulin receptors to raise blood sugar levels.

* Avoid vitamin D deficiency. Lack of vitamin D blocks insulin receptors.

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