If you have type 2 diabetes, I’m sure you’ve been coached on the importance of balancing macronutrients such as carbs, protein, and fat. But when’s the last time your provider talked to you about your micronutrient status? Essential minerals classified as metals are consumed in our diets and are crucial for blood sugar regulation along with every biological function in the body. However, conventional doctors rarely address this issue even though piles of research indicate that it can help balance glucose levels.
Metals like magnesium, zinc, iron, copper, manganese, and chromium are vital for glucose management, but when these levels are not up to par neither is your blood sugar control.
Excessive levels of some essential metals like zinc can damage pancreatic islet cell function, the cells responsible for producing and secreting insulin. Type 2 diabetes is an inflammatory disease, and an imbalance of metals makes it worse by increasing the production of free radicals that damage DNA activity in the pancreatic cells and perpetuate the inflammatory process.
The reason for a metal imbalance, however, is not always clear-cut. For instance, zinc and copper are antagonists, meaning when one gets too high, it depletes the other. Deficiency of either can lead to a multitude of diabetes complications in the body and brain. So why are diabetics at risk for an imbalance like zinc, copper, and other trace minerals? Is it a dietary problem? Is it because diabetics have an increased demand for micronutrients due to elevated stress on the body?
The truth is that it’s usually a combination of both. Poor diet means that you may not be consuming enough micronutrients. Your body may have also lost the ability to regulate the balance of minerals once they’re ingested.
Achieving healthy levels of micrometals is crucial for effective diabetes treatment.
Here are the five metals you need to keep an eye on.
Iron (Fe) is needed for oxygen transport to tissues throughout the body. In diabetics, excess iron storage decreases insulin secretion from the pancreas leading to insulin resistance.
Magnesium (Mg) is the most abundant micronutrient in the human body and is crucial for glucose regulation, DNA production, and communication between nerves. In diabetics, a magnesium deficiency reduces insulin’s ability to move glucose into cells.
Copper (Cu) protects cells from free radicals, and imbalance is often seen in those with high cholesterol because of copper’s role in regulating LDL and HDL cholesterol. Adequate copper levels are required for the body to turn food into fuel, and abnormal levels are associated with diabetes symptoms and complications like neuropathy.
Zinc (Zn) is essential for cellular development and regulation. However, in diabetics, zinc levels are normally low due to excessive excretion in urine. This is a problem for diabetics because zinc is needed to store and secrete insulin. Maintaining adequate zinc levels is critical for blood sugar management.
Chromium (Cr) is involved in pulling glucose into your cells where it can be transformed into energy, so when you are low in chromium, glucose is stuck in circulation leading to high blood sugar levels. Some research has shown that increasing chromium can decrease blood sugar levels in diabetics, but it is dependent on other factors such as the micronutrient levels we’ve already discussed.
By now, are you wondering why your doctor isn’t monitoring your micronutrient levels? He or she should be. Any imbalance in the micronutrients listed above can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes or make blood sugar control a challenge. That’s why I utilize comprehensive micronutrient testing in my practice; we don’t overlook a key component and easy-to-fix factor affecting your ability to heal!