We speak of the spectrum of cardiometabolic disease states from hypertension to diabetes to cardiac disease, stroke and heart attack. These chronic diseases of aging are inflammatory in nature as well as having an autoimmune component as discussed in previous posts. The disease states almost always begin with oxidative stress. Lifestyle changes and nutraceuticals are always considered a front line approach and recently, the medical literature has supported this thesis. So it should not be a surprise to discover that anti-oxidants, botanicals and anti-inflammatory agents and foods are front line therapy for many of these conditions. I reserve prescribing pharmacologic agents in very severe, complex cases and only temporarily.
Alpha Lipoic Acid is a potent anti-oxidant considered to be a “diabetic” nutraceutical. It increases glucose entry into cells independent of insulin, lowers oxidative stress in diabetics, is good for treating the retinopathies and cataracts associated with aging and increase nerve conduction in diabetic patients with neuropathy. Studies have shown that alpha lipoic acid improves insulin sensitivity in patients with type 2 diabetes. Another series of studies showed conclusively that alpha lipoic acid reduces the markers of inflammation in the metabolic syndrome. This nutraceutical also prevents rising hypertension. All in all, this is a great supplement for cardio-metabolic disorders.
Chromium is a key constituent to glucose tolerance factor (GTF). It works closely with insulin to facilitate the uptake of glucose by cells. Patients with type 2 diabetes who were given 1000 micrograms daily of chromium had significant improvement in the insulin/glucose system. When combined with another element, Vanadium, a synergistic effect occurs which stimulates glucose uptake in the absence of insulin, reduces food intake, reduces body fat, weight and plasma glucose and insulin levels.
Herbal agents for glucose disposal and Insulin Resistance include Cinnamon, which improves glucose and lipid levels in patients with type 2 diabetes. other botanicals of use in type 2 diabetes and cardio-metabolic disease include bitter melon, ginseng root, holy basil, milk thistle and garlic.
In summary, cardio-metabolic disease states are actually a continuum of chronic disease beginning with hypertension and lipid disorders, and continuing to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes and ending with cardiovascular disease, stroke and myocardial infarction. This continuum has many factors feeding into it from stress to hormone imbalance and dyslipidemia, from smoking to lack of exercise and poor nutrition. And as you can see, most of these risk factors are preventable and reversible with lifestyle changes and modification of nutrition and stress levels. The New Year brings new hope. Take stock of yourself, reassess yourself and institute the lifestyle changes that bring health, longevity and absence of chronic diseases of aging. You will look better, feel better, live longer and most of all embody health! Thanks for reading and as always, your comments are welcome!