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Does Diabetes Affect Your Immune System

How Can People With Diabetes Avoid Getting Infections

Boosting Your Immune System During COVID-19 – Willis-Knighton Diabetes & Nutrition Center

Even though youre at a higher risk of infections if you have diabetes, you can take steps to lower that risk. Here are 3 tips for how to prevent infections:

  • Keep blood sugar controlled. One of the most effective ways to prevent infections is to keep your blood sugar under control. Your doctor will likely give you a hemoglobin A1C or blood sugar range to aim for. Keeping your levels below these ranges will help you avoid infections. Exercising for at least 30 minutes most days of the week, following an American Diabetes Association meal plan, and taking all diabetes medications as prescribed will help you keep your blood sugar levels at goal.

  • Get vaccinated against the flu and pneumonia on schedule. We discussed that sometimes having diabetes can increase your risk of certain infections or complications even if your blood sugar is under control. Get a flu vaccine every year to reduce your risk of catching the flu and developing flu complications. If you are under 65 years old, a one-time pneumococcal vaccine will help prevent pneumonia. If you are 65 or older, you should have a pneumococcal vaccine every 5 years to keep up that protection.

  • Get yearly diabetic foot exams. Special foot exams are recommended for people with diabetes. According to the ADA, you should have a diabetic foot exam at least once a year to help detect any loss of feeling, which may be an early sign of diabetic neuropathy.

  • Skin And Mucous Membranes

    Your skin plays a dual role: its one of the first lines of defense, acting as a barrier, but it also contains immune cells and can secrete antimicrobial proteins. Your mucous membranes, which line your mouth, throat, nose, eyes and intestines, also serve as a barrier. Enzymes in your saliva and the tears in your eyes contain enzymes that break down cell walls in bacteria. Acids in your stomach not only digest food, they kill germs, as well.

    Bladder And Sex Organs

    Uncontrolled blood sugar forces your bladder to handle a lot of urine because your body retains more fluid. You may wake often at night to use the bathroom. The interrupted sleep can be one reason diabetes leaves you tired.

    Or diabetes can damage your nerves so you wont feel that your bladder is full. You could leak pee. Weakened urinary muscles can make it harder for you to empty your bladder fully. Or you may pee too much.

    Poor bladder control, plus high blood sugar and immune system problems, can lead to urinary tract infections .

    When it comes to sex, men with diabetes are three times more likely to have trouble getting or keeping an erection . For women, their sex drive could drop, lubrication drops, and sex may hurt. Lowered blood flow or nerve problems could make it harder to have an orgasm.

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    Natural Ways Of Boosting My Immunity

    Natural ways to boost your immunity include eating right, getting plenty of rest and exercise and eating certain foods that may boost immunity.

    Taking supplements/medications to boost immunity

    Speak with your doctor before starting any supplements or medications that are meant to boost your immunity if you have diabetes. Certain options may interact with your medications, so its important to consult with your doctor or pharmacist.

    Are there foods that help with strengthening the immune system?

    What you eat makes a big difference in how your immune system reacts. The foods we eat when we have diabetes are even more important, and we must pay attention to carbohydrate content of foods, portion sizes and watch our fats.

    Staying away from processed foods and eating more whole grains is important. Getting enough fiber tends to help blood sugars remain stable.

    There are some nutrients that are of importance to boosting your immune system.

    They are:

    Watch For Symptoms Of Infection


    Early diagnosis and prompt treatment of infections are important. People with diabetes should be vigilant about paying attention to any changes in their bodies that could signal an infection.

    Some examples of body changes that you should be alert to can include a rise in body temperature or change in blood sugars foul-smelling vaginal discharge pain with urination, or cloudy, bloody or foul-smelling urine difficulty or painful swallowing changes in bowel habits and warmth or redness at any cut or scrape, including minor trauma locations and surgical sites. Any of these symptoms should be noted and mentioned to the patient’s health care team.

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    Lentils Are Another Healthy Option For Zinc And Fiber

    Another good source of zinc, lentils are also full of fiber, which helps boost satiety and keeps blood sugar steady, says Schrager. Lentils come in several colors, including brown, green, red, yellow, and black.

    “The fiber acts as a prebiotic for healthy gut bacteria,” she adds. “Our gut bacteria has been shown to strengthen our immune system.”

    Lentils and legumes are a great pantry item, dried or canned, she says, and they provide a good amount of protein as well. According to the USDA, ΒΌ cup of dried lentils contain 30 g of carbs and 15 g of fiber . Lentils are a low-glycemic-index food, making them suitable for people with diabetes.

    This is another good pick for those who are trying to lose weight, since the increased satiety means you feel full for longer, and that can decrease the temptation to keep snacking, lowering your daily calories as a result, says Schrager.

    How to enjoy them Lentils are a great add-in for soup, especially because you can put together one that also has numerous types of veggies. For example, they pair well with onions, cauliflower, and bell peppers, as this low-carb recipe from Wholesome Yum demonstrates.

    RELATED: What Makes for a Good Type 2 Diabetes Diet?

    Inconsistencies In The Role Of T Cells

    A different stand on a role of T cells in the pathogenesis of T1DM can easily be defended . Islet autoreactive T cells are common in the healthy population, and nine out of ten individuals with islet autoantibodies will never develop T1DM,,. Most patients with T1DM have immune regulation that is indistinguishable from that of healthy individuals, and over 99% of patients with cancer who are treated with immune checkpoint inhibitors do not develop T1DM,,. Furthermore, some patients with T1DM present with negligible T cell autoimmunity. Moreover, induction of autoimmune diabetes mellitus in mice by vaccination with islet autoantigens is very difficult, if not impossible. Even when transduction of human islet autoreactive TCRs in humanized mice leads to high frequencies of T cell autoimmunity to islets, no diabetes mellitus was induced. In addition, thus far, progression of T1DM has not been found to accelerate after patients with T1DM are injected with islet autoantigens,,,. Of note, HLA upregulation as an early sign of islet distress frequently occurs without inflammation, even if -cells are still present,, while insulitis is a rare feature in individuals who have islet autoantibodies but not T1DM. Furthermore, immunotherapies in T1DM have not yet shown a durable effect on disease progression. These inconsistencies in our understanding of the critical role of islet autoimmunity, and T cells in particular, require reconciliation.

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    How Can You Improve Sleep And Strengthen Your Immune System

    Given the importance of sleep for immune function, making it a priority to get a sufficient amount of uninterrupted sleep every night can work to strengthen your immune system.

    Improving sleep often starts by focusing on your habits, routines, sleeping environment, and even whether you have the best mattress for your needs. Collectively, this is known as sleep hygiene, and even straightforward steps, such as having a consistent sleep schedule and avoiding using cell phones and tablets in bed, can make it easier to get a good nights sleep.

    People with chronic or severe sleeping problems or issues with recurring illnesses should talk with a doctor. A doctor can work to identify an underlying cause and the best measures to address it.

    People with sleep disorders like insomnia may benefit from a treatment like cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia . This approach works to reduce negative thoughts about sleep and promotes healthy sleep and reduced signs of inflammation.

    Relaxation techniques, including mind-body methods like yoga or tai chi, have also shown positive results in improving sleep while enhancing immune system function, including boosting vaccine response and decreasing indicators of systemic inflammation.

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    Effects Of T2dm On The Circulatory System

    What Constitutes A Compromised Immune System? | MSNBC

    Vascular homeostasis is an important function of the endothelium. Under homeostatic conditions, the ECs maintain the integrity of blood vessels, modulate blood flow, deliver nutrients to the underlying tissues, regulate fibrinolysis and coagulation, control platelet adherence and patrol the trafficking of leukocytes . Normal ECs also internalize high-density lipoproteins and its main protein part apolipoprotein A-I in a receptor-mediated manner to activate endothelial cell nitric oxide synthase and promote anti-inflammatory and antiapoptotic mechanisms . HDL receptors on the surfaces of ECs include: the ATP-binding cassette transporters A1 and G1, the scavenger receptor -B1 and the ecto-F1-ATPase .

    The scavenger receptor LOX-1 plays an important role in the uptake of ox-LDL during atherogenesis. It is strongly expressed on the surfaces of ECs, but has an inducible pattern of expression on the surface of macrophages and smooth muscle cells . The accelerated uptake of ox-LDL by macrophages accounts for their transformation into foam cells, the initial hallmark of atherosclerosis . Besides, diabetes leads to both quantitative and qualitative defects in circulating angiogenic progenitor cells that take part in the repair of injured endothelium . It has been shown that humans or mice with decreased numbers of CD31+CD34+CD133+CD45dimSca-1+Flk-1+ CAPCs have an increased prevalence of T2DM, elevated HbA1c levels and aggravated CVD risk scores .

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    Effects Of T2dm On The Susceptibility Of Patients To Infections

    T2DM is usually associated with an elevated risk of asymptomatic bacteriuria, urinary tract infections , pyelonephritis and non-sexually transmitted genital infections, such as balanitis and vulvovaginal infections . The incidence of infections with a complicated course is significantly higher in diabetic patients compared to healthy controls . It seems that it is principally defects in the innate immune responses of diabetic individuals that are responsible for the increased susceptibility and prevalence of infections .

    Table 3. Dysfunctional immune system in T2DM patients promotes the pathogenesis of infections.

    Potential Immune System Damage

    A 2019 study found that dendritic cells, which are also critical to immune response, also became inflamed when exposed to fructose as opposed to when they were exposed to glucose. However, more research is needed to determine if and exactly how fructose might affect our immune system’s response to a virus.

    “We don’t know yet how fructose would affect the body’s response to viruses,” said Dr. Jones. “As this work has just been released, there is certainly more to do, especially when considering viruses that target the liver, where fructose will be more abundant.”

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    Sleep And Innate And Adaptive Immunity

    Sleep is an important period of bodily rest, and studies indicate that sleep plays a crucial role in the robustness of our immune system. In fact, sleep contributes to both innate and adaptive immunity.

    Researchers have found that during nightly sleep, certain components of the immune system rev up. For example, there is an increased production of cytokines associated with inflammation. This activity appears to be driven both by sleep and by circadian rhythm, which is the bodys 24-hour internal clock.

    When someone is ill or injured, this inflammatory response may help with recovery, fortifying innate and adaptive immunity as the body works to repair wounds or fight off an infection.

    Studies have found, though, that this inflammation occurs even when a person isnt actively hurt or sick. Analysis of the type of cells and cytokines involved in this nighttime immune activity indicates that its role is to strengthen adaptive immunity.

    Just like sleep can help the brain consolidate learning and memory, research suggests that sleep strengthens immune memory. The interaction of immune system components during sleep reinforces the immune systems ability to remember how to recognize and react to dangerous antigens.

    Experts arent certain why this process takes place during sleep, but it is believed that several factors may be involved:

    Healthier Diet And Lifestyle

    Travis Stork of

    Diabetics must follow diet plans that are lower in complex carbohydrates and higher in protein. By eating healthier foods with lower glycemic levels, a diabetic has a much better chance of controlling blood sugar. There are a number of diabetic cookbooks available that can suggest healthier meals with immunity-boosting ingredients. Eating more controlled portions and taking blood glucose readings between meals can also help diabetic maintain a healthy weight, which also affects the immune system.

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    Ways To Reduce Stress And Boost Your Immune System While Social Distancing

    While vaccination rates continue to rise, new COVID-19 variants and breakthrough cases are increasing concern amongst those with chronic conditions. Its known that the virus affects people differently, but those who have underlying medical conditions are susceptible to serious complications. This is especially true for people living with diabetes. People living with diabetes who contract COVID-19 are more at risk for severe complications, especially diabetic ketoacidosis. Therefore, regardless of vaccination status, many medical professionals are recommending that we continue to practice safe and healthy behaviors like washing our hands, wearing masks, and avoiding close contact with people outside of our household. To help, here are six ways to reduce stress and boost your immune system while social distancing.

    Brain And Nervous System

    When you have diabetes, your cells must work harder to use glucose. That may tire your muscles and leave you feeling spent.

    Studies tie diabetes to proteins in your brain that are linked to dementia. Because of narrowed, hardened arteries, your chances of stroke are also higher. Your brain needs sugar to do its job. Repeated bouts of low blood sugar can damage the brain.

    Nerve damage happens to almost everyone with diabetes. Some parts of your body may go numb or have other problems. All organs, including your heart, rely on healthy nerves. Pain in your feet and legs is a common sign that something isnt right.

    You may not notice small cuts or sores at first. Those small injuries can grow into big wounds.

    Since diabetes affects your blood flow and immune system, a small sore may not get what it needs to heal. In severe cases, doctors may need to amputate a foot or other affected areas.

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    Excess Blood Sugar Disrupts Immune System Proteins And Promotes Atherosclerosis

    Heart rate graph using sugar on red background. Credit: Shutterstock

    Excess sugar in the blood, the central feature of diabetes, can react with immune proteins to cause myriad changes in the immune system, including inflammatory changes that promote atherosclerosis, according to a new study from scientists at Weill Cornell Medicine and University of Massachusetts Medical School.

    The study, published March 15 in the journal Immunity, advances the field of diabetes research by revealing molecular pathways through which the disorder may cause other serious health problems for patients. In principle, these newly revealed pathways could be targeted with future diabetes drugs.

    Our findings showing how hyperglycemia can contribute to atherosclerosis by altering the adaptive immune response should have broad clinical implications, said co-senior author Dr. Laura Santambrogio, professor of radiation oncology at Weill Cornell Medicine.

    The American Diabetes Association has estimated that in 2018, more than 34 million people in the United States had either type 1 diabetes or the more common, adult-onset and obesity-related type 2 diabetes. In both conditions, the body loses its normal ability to keep bloodstream levels of glucose within safe limits, resulting in chronically high glucose levelshyperglycemia.

    How Much Sugar Is Considered Healthy To Eat In A Day

    Living with a compromised immune system | Voices from the Pandemic

    The US Office of Disease Prevention and the World Health Organization recommend that you should get no more than 10% of your daily calories from added sugar each day. Another way to look at that amount is to limit your sugar intake to no more than six teaspoons, or 25 grams total. This amount includes the sugar you may add to your coffee, the sugar in your daily chocolate serving or the hidden sugars often found in “healthy” foods like granola bars or smoothies.

    Finally, if you stick to a well-balanced diet and keep your sugar consumption in check , then your immune system will have a better chance to do its job and keep you from getting sick. Now is not the time to go crazy with baking desserts . Enjoying them from time to time is fine, but moderation is key when it comes to staying well.

    The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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    Carrots Are Packed With Vitamin A And Low On The Glycemic Index

    Vitamin A can help support the immune system through a variety of cellular processes, and one top source is carrots, says Cara Schrager, MPH, RDN, a certified diabetes care and education specialist and the clinical programs manager at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston.

    “Carrots contain beta-carotene, which is a major source of vitamin A,” she says, so much so that the common garden vegetable actually gave the phytonutrient its name. Furthermore, Schrager says, they contain a low glycemic load, meaning they are unlikely to cause a blood sugar spike.

    They’re helpful for eye health, an important consideration for those with diabetes, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases .

    Over time, diabetes can cause eye damage that leads to poor vision and puts you at higher risk for issues like cataracts and glaucoma. Research published in Nutrients has found that the beta-carotene in carrots, along with lutein, provides antioxidants that can help prevent eye damage.

    How to enjoy them Schrader suggests grating carrots into tomato sauce or ground meat, or snacking on baby carrots. According to the USDA, about of a cup offers 586 micrograms of vitamin A, or about 65 percent of the DV.


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