Diabetic complications: the key analogy

Philip J. Goscienski, M.D.

June 2010

If you were to weld or solder a couple of tiny clumps of metal to the peaks or valleys of your car key you might have a problem in getting the vehicle to start. We can apply this example to the complications of diabetes.

The normal human body is made up mostly of protein. It is only during the past century that among increasing numbers of people, fat outweighs protein. Every organ consists primarily of protein and so do the enzymes and hormones that make these parts work properly. Countless miles of blood vessels are made of protein and they are constantly being rebuilt and replaced. All these elements are vulnerable to damage during the manufacturing period if protein is defective.

An excess of glucose (blood sugar) eventually becomes converted into fat but some glucose attaches to molecules of protein, a process called glycation or glycosylation. The added molecules of glucose change the shape of proteins and often interfere with their function, like a key with too few or too many bumps. Over a period of years glycation causes blood vessels to become distorted so that nutrients can't reach target tissues and accumulated waste products stay behind to damage cells.

We might expect that parts of the body that are especially rich in blood vessels would be the most vulnerable and would likely be affected in diabetes, both type 1 and type 2. That is exactly what occurs. The kidney and the retina of the eye have a dense network of blood vessels, making kidney failure and blindness two of the most common complications of diabetes. Heart disease, stroke and gangrene of the feet are also common complications of diabetes for the same reasons.

The rise of type 2 diabetes among children is worrisome not just because of its increasing prevalence but because the onset of complications among them occurs faster. This is not unexpected because children's bodies are still in a growth phase, churning out new cells every day and constructing blood vessels that will nourish them.

An added factor in childhood diabetes is fructose, the cheap sweetener that makes up a large percentage of every American child's diet in the form of soft drinks. Fructose attaches itself to protein in the same way that glucose does, resulting in fructosylation that is equally damaging.

Little will change until we have eliminated refined grains and refined sugars from the nutritional scene.

Philip J. Goscienski, M.D. is the author of Health Secrets of the Stone Age, Better Life Publishers 2005. Contact him at drphil@stoneagedoc.com.