Category Archives: Diabetes & Me

Scientists discover secret of diabetes drug metformin

Doctors know that the diabetes drug metformin needs to interact with insulin in order to be effective, but until now, researchers haven’t been able to explain how and why this interaction happens.

Scientists at McMaster University recently discovered that metformin works by reducing fat in the liver, which ultimately helps to lower blood glucose levels. The new research is published in the journal Nature Medicine.

Reducing fat in the liver
Greg Steinberg, associate professor in the Department of Medicine of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, explained that most people taking metformin have a fatty liver, which is often caused by obesity.

“Fat is likely a key trigger for pre-diabetes, causing blood sugar to start going up because insulin can’t work as efficiently to stop sugar coming from the liver,” Steinberg said.

Analyzing the effects of metformin on mice, Steinberg and his team found that the drug failed to lower the rodents’ blood sugar levels, indicating that the drug doesn’t work to directly reduce sugar metabolism, but that it acts on the liver.image

“[Metformin] works on reducing harmful fat molecules in the liver, which then allows insulin to work better and lower blood sugar levels,” said Steinberg.

Mutated proteins
In trying to discover what causes fatty liver, the team found that mice with mutations of specific proteins called acetyl-CoA carboxylase (ACC) developed signs of fatty liver and pre-diabetes.

The findings could have significant implications for people who haven’t had success with metformin.

“This discovery offers a huge head start in finding combination therapies (and more personalized approaches) for diabetics for whom metformin isn’t enough to restore their blood sugar to normal levels,” said Steinberg.

Source: McMaster University

Diabetes and Foot Problems

Foot problems tend to happen more often in people with diabetes than in those who do not have this disease.

According to the American Diabetes Association, anyone who is diabetic should check his or her feet every day and get medical help right away if a foot injury occurs. All diabetics should have their feet checked at least one time each year, and if they develop an ingrown toenail or any other problem, it is very important for them to see a doctor right away. Other foot conditions that require fast medical treatment include corns and calluses. Diabetics should wear shoes at all times to avoid injury to their feet. Most diabetes treatment plans include seeing a podiatrist, or foot specialist, if one has any problems with one’s feet.

Precautions for Diabetics

Diabetics need to be extra careful with their feet because they may have some nerve damage in their legs or feet. This could keep them from feeling cuts or
another injuries on their feet. By the time that they do notice the wound or injury, it could already be infected and more difficult to treat.

To add to the problem, diabetics often have wounds that heal more slowly as a side effect of this disease. If the foot problem is not seen and treated right away, it can result in a serious infection that could require hospitalization or even amputation of the foot if the infection does not heal.

Some diabetics burn their feet by stepping into bath water that is too hot because they cannot feel the temperature accurately. It important to reach down with your hand and feel the water to see if it is safe to put your feet in it if you take baths instead of showers.

The best way to prevent foot problems is to manage your blood sugar level. Too much sugar in the body is often the source of foot problems in diabetics. The excess sugar is the cause of diabetic nerve damage, or neuropathy, which takes the feeling out of your feet and toes.

Healing Properly and Fighting Infection

Excess sugar in your body also prevents wounds from healing properly. Your body will function better when your glucose level is within your target range. Diabetes affects every cell in the body, including your feet.

When diabetics have problems with blood circulation, they are not able to fight off infections in a normal way. Blood vessels may narrow and harden, causing additional problems with sores or wounds on the feet healing.

Although walking and exercise are important for diabetics, it is important not to wear shoes that rub your feet and can cause sores. Also, if you do have a current foot problem, it is best not to walk until it heals so that your shoes do not rub on the wound.

Relieve Diabetic Foot Pain

Over time, people with diabetes may develop nerve damage throughout the body.

Sometimes this damage occurs without symptoms, and other times patients feel pain, tingling, or numbness in the appendages. This is called diabetic neuropathy.

The best way to prevent pain from neuropathy is to keep your glucose levels close to normal, which helps protect nerves throughout your body. Maintaining healthy glucose levels may also help prevent or delay the onset of future problems.

How to Relieve Pain from Diabetic Neuropathy
Sixty to 70 percent of diabetics experience peripheral neuropathy, mostly affecting the feet. The most common treatments prescribed by doctors are oral medications, including antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and opioids or painkillers. Other treatments include skin ointments or patches.

You can sometimes treat the pain without a medical doctor by using a combination of ointments and supplements found at your local pharmacy.

Five Tips
Use a topical application, such as capsaicin cream (made from red chili peppers). It feels hot to the skin, but the chemicals bind to pain receptors to lessen pain over time.
Take fish oil supplements. Both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids help relieve pain and inflammation.
Wear comfortable shoes that don’t put pressure on your toes. (This means no high heals, ladies!)
Relieve stress, which can increase inflammation and pain. Try yoga, meditation, or acupuncture to reduce the effect of stress hormones.
Call your doctor immediately if you notice black or blue spots on your feet, toes, or fingers.