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Does Diabetes Weaken The Immune System

How Does Diabetes Affect Fat Metabolism


When a person has enough insulin, their body is able to use and store glucose effectively.

However, without insulin, the body can switch to using stored fat instead. This happens through a process that experts refer to as ketosis.

During ketosis, the body releases ketones, which are chemicals that break down from fats. If ketone levels become too high, they can make the blood acidic. This results in a serious condition known as diabetic ketoacidosis .

DKA mainly occurs in people with type 1 diabetes, but it can also develop in those with type 2 diabetes. It is a potentially life threatening condition that requires emergency treatment.

Blood ketone monitors or urine testing strips can help people check their ketone levels.

Diet, exercise, and body weight have a significant influence on metabolism and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

What Your Immune System Does

You dont need to be an immunologist to understand how your immune system works. For the most part, your immune system has one job, and thats to prevent infection. Its like having your own Secret Service detail, 24/7.

Your immune system is clever in that it can distinguish between normal, healthy cells and unhealthy cells by recognizing a variety of danger cues called danger-associated molecular patterns . Examples of unhealthy cells are cells that might be damaged due to an infection, a sunburn or cancer. Microbes, such as viruses, bacteria and fungi can also damage cells by releasing another set of signals called pathogen-associated molecular patterns .

Basically, these DAMP and PAMP signals activate the immune system to respond. If ones immune system isnt working as it should, problems occur, such as an infection. Likewise, if ones immune system is activated when theres no need, or it goes into overdrive, it can cause issues such as allergic reactions or autoimmune disease.

Scientists Show How Sugar

Case Western Reserve University
Scientists may have uncovered a molecular mechanism that sets into motion dangerous infection in the feet and hands often occurring with uncontrolled diabetes. It appears that high blood sugar unleashes destructive molecules that interfere with the body’s natural infection-control defenses.

Case Western Reserve scientists may have uncovered a molecular mechanism that sets into motion dangerous infection in the feet and hands often occurring with uncontrolled diabetes. It appears that high blood sugar unleashes destructive molecules that interfere with the body’s natural infection-control defenses.

The harmful molecules — dicarbonyls — are breakdown products of glucose that interfere with infection-controlling antimicrobial peptides known as beta-defensins. The Case Western Reserve team discovered how two dicarbonyls — methylglyoxal and glyoxal — alter the structure of human beta-defensin-2 peptides, hobbling their ability to fight inflammation and infection.

Their laboratory in vitro findings, which appear in PLOS ONE, could ultimately contribute important insights into developing and enhancing antimicrobial peptide drugs for people with diabetes who have hard-to-control infections and wounds that are slow to heal.

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How Often Do Immune System Problems Occur With Pembrolizumab

Cancer treatment is always individual, and what you experience may be different from someone else.

In clinical studies, researchers looked at a large group of patients to better understand how frequently and how quickly these side effects might occur, but these numbers have a wide range.

Your outcome may be different based on your cancer type, overall medical condition, other treatments you are receiving, and many other factors. Always discuss the potential for drug side effects with your doctor, who knows your medical history and treatment plan best.

Lung problems :

  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • new or worsening cough

In studies with pembrolizumab used for various cancers, pneumonitis occurred in 94 of 2799 of patients. These side effects most commonly started 3.3 months after beginning treatment, but ranged between 2 days and 19.3 months. They lasted 1.5 months . Pneumonitis was resolved in 55 out of the 94 patients and 36 patients had to stop treatment.

Intestinal problems can lead to tears or holes in your intestine. Signs and symptoms of colitis may include:

  • diarrhea or more frequent bowel movements
  • stools that are black, tarry, sticky, or contain blood or mucus
  • severe pain or tenderness in the stomach area

Colitis occurred in 48 of 2799 of patients receiving pembrolizumab, and started most commonly in 3.5 months . Symptoms most commonly lasted about 1.3 months . Colitis was resolved in 41 out of the 48 patients but 15 patients had to stop treatment.

What Infections Are You At Risk For With Diabetes

The 14 Most Common Autoimmune Disease Types

People with diabetes are more susceptible to developing infections, as high blood sugar levels can weaken the patient’s immune system defenses. In addition, some diabetes-related health issues, such as nerve damage and reduced blood flow to the extremities, increase the body’s vulnerability to infection.

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Hearing Smell And Taste

Your vision isnt the only sense thats at risk. Diabetes doubles your chances for hearing loss. Prediabetes ups your chances by 30%. Experts arent sure why. The reason could be nerve damage, but more research is needed to know for sure.

You may lose your hearing slowly so that you arent even aware. If you ask people to repeat themselves a lot, get your hearing checked.

Diabetes even affects the nerves that handle these senses. If you take insulin, you may be more likely to have trouble noticing scents. This may make food taste off. You may even catch a whiff of something thats not there.

Experts suspect it could stem from nerve damage or a glitch that starts in the brain. It may be an early sign of trouble with thinking skills. People who have Alzheimers disease or dementia often report problems with their sense of smell before their diagnosis.

Inhibition Of Antibodies And Complement Effector

The dysfunction of complement activation was observed in an animal study in rats conducted by Clifford et al. . They demonstrated that hyperglycemia was associated with decreased C4-fragment opsonization, which inhibits classical or lectin pathways of complement activation. The summary of possible mechanisms that cause infection susceptibility in people with diabetes is presented in Table and Fig. .

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Type 1 Diabetes Doesnt Hamper Your Immune Systems Basic Functions If You Have Good Blood Glucose Control

This according to Dr. Richard Jackson, endocrinologist and former director of medical affairs at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston.

The autoimmune part of type 1 diabetes is very particular, as only the beta cells in the islets are targeted not the other cells in the islet, and not the other cells in the pancreas. In all of the usual ways, the immune system is just fine, he says.

There are a few other autoimmune endocrine disorders that are slightly more likely if you have type 1 diabetes. Autoimmune thyroid disease is the most common, resulting in either an overactive or underactive thyroid.

What this means is that a person with T1D who maintains healthy glucose control is no more or less likely to get colds or flu than a person without diabetes.

In terms of a viral infection like the 2020 coronavirus, the problem for people with diabetes is being at higher risk for developing complications or dying if they do contract it, according to the American Diabetes Association.

To clarify, Jackson notes that when most authorities talk about people with diabetes being at elevated risk, they are thinking of older people with type 2 diabetes who may have multiple comorbidities , not the typical person with type 1.

People with poorly controlled diabetes are more likely to have infections and more complicated illnesses overall but your glucose has to be pretty high for a long time, he adds.

The Immune Systems Responses To Bacterial And Viral Infections Are Quite Different

What is type 1 diabetes immunotherapy? | Diabetes UK

The body reacts to disease-causing bacteria by increasing local blood flow . Also, the immune system produces antibodies that attach to the bacteria and help destroy them. The antibodies may also inactivate toxins produced by particular bacterial pathogens, for example in the case of tetanus or diphtheria. Antibiotic drugs treat bacterial infections by either killing off the specific type of bacteria or preventing them from multiplying.

When you contract a viral infection, like the , the body is invaded by tiny microorganisms, even smaller than bacteria. Viruses are parasitic, meaning they require living cells or tissue in which to grow and multiply. Some viruses even kill host cells as part of their life cycle.

Your immune system can

  • the innate response, the first line of defense, while the virus is replicating in the body
  • the adaptive response, which kicks in once cells are infected

Without getting into the medical nitty-gritty, viral infections are complicated, as they can change and adapt. Thats why flu vaccination shots must be changed every season.

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What Happens When A Person With Prediabetes Get A Viral Infection New Study Provides In

As the number of individuals with Type 2 diabetes in the United States continues to climb, researchers at Stanford Medicine are investigating the connection between a condition known as prediabetes — an early indicator of diabetes that involves higher-than-normal blood sugar levels — and immune and microbiome health.

“Exactly how a person’s biology shifts under prediabetic and diabetic conditions is still unclear,” said Michael Snyder, PhD, professor and chair of genetics.

A new study now provides a glimpse into the immune and microbial states of individuals who are healthy or prediabetic, looking at how their health changes during a viral infection.

For nearly four years, Snyder and a team of scientists have closely tracked a variety of factors in a group of 106 people — including both healthy individuals as well as those who exhibit signs of prediabetes through “insulin resistance.”

The researchers followed the participants’ insulin levels, levels of immune molecules, microbial populations and more.

“We followed the biology of these individuals over time to see if and how they change, especially if they caught a cold. In that vein, this study also focused on understanding how folks with prediabetes fight off a viral infection relative to healthy people,” said Snyder. “That’s never really been explored before.”

That is, unless they got a viral infection.

The study also answers a call for a different, more basic need, said Zhou.

When Eating Sugar Choose Whole Foods

Eating more whole, unprocessed foods in place of sugary ones ensures you are consuming key nutrients and fibers.

While fruit has sugars, it also contains fiber, which slows down the digestion rate, keeping blood sugar levels more stable. That’s why eating dessert after a meal, one that preferably includes plenty of vegetables, might be better for your body and your teeth than a sweet alone.

“Fiber is nature’s balance system,” says Ian Myles, an immunologist and chief medical research officer with the National Institutes of Health. When you eat an apple, for example, it contains fiber which may counteract inflammatory effects from the sugar. But if you process that apple into juice, then “you strip the fiber, and the counterbalance effect is lost,” Myles says.

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Quitting Smoking And Other Habits That May Be Harming Your Health

If you havent quit smoking or using tobacco products yet, make plans to do so now. You can call the quit line in your state to seek help. They may have nicotine patches, gums or lozenges available for you as stop smoking aids. Visit your doctor to discuss whether you might need Wellbutrin or Chantix to stop smoking.

Its the most important thing that you can do for your health. Tobacco or nicotine containing products tend to bind with all the oxygen in our system. It cuts our circulation, and when we have diabetes, we already have compromised circulation.

Smoking increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and circulatory problems throughout the body. It also is responsible for certain cancers and respiratory diseases. Smoking has been linked to many chronic diseases and cancers, so quit today.

Alcohol, as said, can affect our quality of sleep, but it can also sabotage our diabetes management. High carbohydrates and sugars in alcoholic beverages tend to raise our blood sugars. Generally, women should aim for one drink if they have one, and men can have up to two alcoholic beverages daily.

People who drink a lot of alcohol have health problems ranging from a greater risk for diseases that are spread , pneumonia and suppression of immune responses.

Urinary Tract Infections Including Bladder Infections And Kidney Infections

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Urinary tract infections are common complications of diabetes. Thats because high blood sugar can lead to sugar in your urine, and sugar is a breeding ground for bacteria. If your bladder doesnt empty completely when you urinate, bacteria can hang around in your urinary tract even longer.

The urinary tract includes the kidneys and the bladder. Most UTIs occur in the bladder, but more serious UTIs can turn into kidney infections. Symptoms of a bladder infection may include fever, frequent urination , burning during urination, or pain in the abdomen when urinating. Kidney infections can be much more dangerous and can cause more complications in people with diabetes. Symptoms of a kidney infection are often more painful and include abdominal pain, pain in the groin, fever, chills, nausea, and vomiting.

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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.

Impairment Of Adaptive Immunity In T2dm

Humoral Immunity

Elevated levels of blood glucose generate covalent sugar adducts with several proteins through non-enzymatic glycation. This can impair humoral immunity in many ways, e.g., by modifying the structure and functions of immunoglobulins . Such modifications in the structure of Igs can be determined using matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization mass spectrometry . The molecular mass of Igs in diabetic patients is higher than in normal subjects . This can lead to reduced efficiency of vaccines that stimulate humoral immunity in these patients. It has been shown that immunization with influenza vaccines in diabetic patients induces normal or even elevated levels of flu-specific antibodies compared with normal individuals . However, the ability of the dysfunctional glycated antibodies to neutralize viruses is impaired, which will increase the susceptibility to infections. Farnsworth et al. have shown that in T2DM, class switch defects in the assembly of antibody genes are also present .

Cellular Immunity

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How Much Sugar Does It Take To Weaken Your Immune Response

This nutrition study shows that it takes about 75 grams of sugar to weaken the immune system. And once the white blood cells are affected, it’s thought that the immune system is lowered for about 5 hours after. This means that even someone who slept 8 hours, takes supplements and exercises can seriously damage their immune system function by drinking a few sodas or having candy or sugary desserts throughout the day.

That study above was published in the 1970s, but another study from 2011 expanded on the previous research and found that sugar, especially fructose negatively affected the immune response to viruses and bacteria.

Just to give you context of how 75 grams of sugar can add up:

  • One can of soda has about 40 grams of sugar
  • A low-fat, sweetened yogurt can have 47 grams of sugar
  • A cupcake has about 46 grams of sugar
  • Sports drinks can contain about 35 grams of sugar

Health authorities say to limit sugar to no more than 6 teaspoons a day.

Bladder And Sex Organs

The Effects of Hyperglycemia on the Immune System

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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