Turning down an iron pump – irons out diabetes

iron causing the pancreas to rust

Diabetes arises because the body, cannot produce enough insulin, to keep the sugar levels under control. Sky rocketing sugar, causes trouble with a capital T.

The tipping point happens when the beta cells, floating about in the Islet’s of Langerhans in the pancreas, stop working.

In type I diabetics, the immune system is responsible for the melt down. But for type II diabetics, the beta cells are still there, they just fail to deliver the goods. Albeit, they are being asked to produce truck loads of insulin, to compensate for the apparent shortage, which arises due to insulin resistance, but the reason for the shut down, is still not clear.

 The iron connection

The connection between obesity and diabetes is clear.

 But, the existence of skinny type II diabetics, suggests there is more to beta cell failure, than just beta cell overwhelm, brought on by the excessive demand for insulin.

 Epidemiological and genetic studies, have fingered iron levels, as a contributing factor.

 Iron the two edged sword

Iron is a vital mineral and shortages can be catastrophic, too little causes iron deficiency anemia and can negatively impact cognitive development in young children.

But, too much iron is also problematic, because iron reacts with oxygen, to produce oxygen radicals. Radicals can cause serious tissue damage.

Ironing up in response to inflammation

Putting two and two together, a group of Danish researchers think they may have discovered the chemistry behind the diabetes-iron association.

It all begins with inflammation………………

The inflammation is signalled by high levels of inflammatory chemicals, such as IL-1 (interleukin-1). These inflammatory chemicals encourage beta cells to ratchet up their uptake of iron, to allow for increased production of insulin.

To take up more iron, the beta cells rely on a special iron transporter, known as DMT1 (divalent metal transporter).

So far so good………

Beta cells are weak at the knees

Pumping on all four cylinders during the “invasion” is beneficial. But when the so-called “invasion” goes on too long. The beta cells get weak at the knees.

The reason, beta cells are not very well endowed, when it comes to antioxidant defence mechanisms.

So the extra iron flooding into the cells creates significant strain, reactive oxygen species begin causing serious havoc. As more and more damage ensues, the cells stop functioning optimally….

Because fewer beta cells are pumping out insulin, not enough is produced to meet the body’s needs………… sugar levels begin rising, culminating in a diagnosis of diabetes.

Starts at the iron pump

The researchers pulled apart the beta cell iron pump, DMT1.

In the process they discovered that the iron pump played a vital role in normal insulin production. So removing the pump is not helpful.

But, interfering with pump functioning…….. STOPS beta cell deaths, protecting mice from developing diabetes.

The team used some pretty high tech techniques, to interfere with the pump functioning, but just “removing” the iron did the trick too. They removed it using chemicals that chelate i.e. bind to the iron.

Lessons for the pre-diabetic ?

Work on diminishing the levels of inflammation in your body. I know, it is probably easy said than done….

Getting the 7 Big Spoons sorted is always a good place to start.

balance eicosanoids rein in insulin dial down stress sleep vitamin D microflora think
Balance Eicosanoids Rein in insulin Dial down stress Sleep ! Increase Vit D Culivate microflora Think champion

 If you’re carrying lots of extra pounds around with you, lose a little weight – unhappy fat cells are creating lots of inflammation, which primes that pump.

 And don’t inadvertently turn up the iron pump, by taking UNNECESSARY iron supplements.

 Iron supplements are not nice to have extras

 Taking “extra” nutrients and things, for insurance is something we’re encouraged to do – by health gurus and the media.

 BUT IRON is one of several supplements, you need to be weary of self-medicating with.

 Iron supplements can be life saving, WHEN YOU NEED THEM, but can cause unexpected harm, when you don’t.

 Divalent Metal Transporter 1 Regulates Iron-Mediated ROS and Pancreatic ? Cell Fate in Response to Cytokines. Cell Metabolism (2012) 16(4): 449-461. Jakob Bondo Hansen, Morten Fog Tonnesen, Andreas Nygaard Madsen, Peter H. Hagedorn, Josefine Friberg, Lars Groth Grunnet, R. Scott Heller, Anja Østergren Nielsen, Joachim Størling, Luc Baeyens, Leeat Anker-Kitai, Klaus Qvortrup, Luc Bouwens, Shimon Efrat, Mogens Aalund, Nancy C. Andrews, Nils Billestrup, Allan E. Karlsen, Birgitte Holst, Flemming Pociot, Thomas Mandrup-Poulsen.
 

Interested in learning more about the chemistry behind diabetes ?

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Further reading 

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Do  the forbidden dairy products hold the key to cutting diabetes risk ? How to juice up the heart battery so it pumps in a crisis Suffering from high blood pressure – you need a vampire ?

Hire Dr Sandy from a Spoonful of Science to be the keynote speaker at your next event.

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