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The Link Between BBQ And Diabetes

The summer season is a great time of year to enhance your health. With an abundance of fresh produce, more opportunities for outdoor exercise, summer vacations and more — there’s a lot we can do to increase our vitality. But there’s a big summer health risk that many of us aren’t aware of; and research shows it contributes to type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and weight gain. Furthermore, this all American pastime significantly speeds up the aging process and increases risks of cancer and other chronic diseases. The culprit? Barbecued food — especially meat.

Cellular Burn Out

As we all know, diet plays a primary role in diabetes, metabolic syndrome and weight gain (along with just about every other chronic illness). We know that refined sugar is the No.1 enemy — even for people without metabolic health problems related to glucose and insulin imbalances. Excess sugar in the bloodstream triggers inflammation and oxidative stress, including the production of damaging proteins called AGEs (advanced glycation end products). AGEs fan the flames of inflammation, cause cells to age prematurely and increase our risks of chronic diseases. Research shows AGEs are particularly bad for people with type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and obesity, helping to advance these degenerative conditions and accelerate chronic inflammation, organ damage and weight gain.

After refined sugar, barbecued food may be the most to blame for these damaging proteins. When foods, particularly meats, are cooked to a crisp over an open flame, they generate the same AGEs produced in the body when we eat a lot of sugars and other inflammation-causing foods. Essentially, inflammation in the body is kind of like barbecuing over an open flame: Cells, tissues and organs get burned out and age much faster.

Seaweed To The Rescue

With an epidemic increase in diabetes type 2 globally and metabolic syndrome on the rise, researchers are tirelessly looking for ways to halt and, hopefully, reverse these deadly trends. Yes, diet and exercise are the most important lifestyle measures we can take to fight these conditions, but alone they may not be enough.

Most people who struggle with these inflammatory diseases need extra support to help balance blood glucose levels, maintain insulin sensitivity in cells and metabolize sugars and fats. Luckily, there are numerous herbs and nutrients that can work together to support these critical areas of health, including a number of traditional Chinese and Indian (Ayurvedic) botanicals. However, there are other natural compound called alginates — derived from seaweed — that are also earning a reputation for supporting metabolic health and fighting diabetes and obesity.

Alginates are made of polysaccharides — long-chain carbohydrate molecules — extracted from brown kelp seaweed. Alginates are used by the processed food industry in a number of food products as a thickener and gelling agent. Research is demonstrating that alginates have properties that offer some very specific health benefits.

A recent study published in the Journal of Functional Foods showed that drinking a beverage containing an alginate prevented the blood sugar spike that occurs after eating a high-glycemic (high-sugar) meal. This study further confirms other research on beneficial effects on blood sugar metabolism. Furthermore, research shows that alginates also work to prevent the formation of AGEs in the body that occur as a result of eating sugar, barbecued foods and other “glycating” foods such as trans fats.

Toxins And Diabetes

Inflammatory foods and lack of exercise are indeed some of the biggest risk factors for diabetes 2, metabolic syndrome and obesity. However, emerging studies point to another culprit: the role of environmental toxins and heavy metals in contributing to these conditions. These harmful pollutants accumulate in fat cells, organs and tissues, increasing inflammation and disrupting critical biological processes. Again, alginates offer support against accumulation of environmental toxins, as clinical research shows alginates bind with these pollutants and help to safely remove them.

Additional Botanicals And Nutrients

There are a variety of other natural ingredients that also support healthy glucose metabolism and help fight type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and obesity. In my clinical practice, I recommend a comprehensive metabolic formula that contains Chinese herbs such as kudzu root and Chinese yam, organic medicinal mushrooms, and alpha lipoic acid, among other ingredients. The formula also contains a significant dose of alginate, to help support metabolic health and address type 2 diabetes from multiple angles. This formula promotes healthy glucose, carbohydrate and fat metabolism while helping to restore insulin sensitivity and reduce sugar cravings. If you indulge in foods that spike glucose, increase inflammation or generate AGEs, I highly recommend taking this formula beforehand, to help stave off the negative effects of these pro-inflammatory foods.

Long-term metabolic health requires a year-round effort. Getting regular exercise, avoiding high-glycemic foods, eating an antioxidant-rich diet and controlling stress are all part of the equation. Be sure to take advantage of summer’s offerings, including the season’s bountiful fresh to support your metabolic and overall health. Finally, don’t forget to supplement with natural ingredients, including alginates from kelp, to balance your system and prevent any health regrets that may come with some of our favorite, all-American pastimes. Happy summer!

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