How to keep arthritis from turning into diabetes

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Did you know that one particular type of arthritis makes you about 50% more likely to develop diabetes? What’s more, if the cause behind the link is accurate, then just about any type of severe arthritis could make you susceptible to diabetes.

Researchers have known about the link between rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes for years. Many studies have shown the connection. But now these researchers are beginning to understand why this form of arthritis increases your risk of diabetes. It’s inflammation.

As you may know, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that leads to inflammation in the joints and surrounding areas. It also can affect your organs, including your pancreas. This inflammation can create insulin resistance. And insulin resistance can increase your blood sugar levels, which leads to diabetes.

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Rheumatoid arthritis isn’t the only form of arthritis that creates inflammation, though. Osteoarthritis also causes it. But osteoarthritis doesn’t usually cause as much inflammation because it’s typically more localized and not as severe. Osteoarthritis is the “wear-and-tear” arthritis because it affects joints that are worn down. However, more and more research is pointing to inflammation as a possible cause and result of osteoarthritis. So it’s vital you treat inflammation regardless of the type of arthritis you have.

Conventional doctors see the need for treating inflammation. Unfortunately, they typically turn to drugs. If you have rheumatoid arthritis, your doctor may prescribe a TNF-alpha inhibitor. As its name indicates, these drugs block TNF-alpha, an inflammation-causing substance in your body that also can lead to diabetes. A recent study on 1,500 rheumatoid arthritis patients found that the drug does indeed reduce your risk of diabetes. But, like many drugs, it does so with great risk. TNF-alpha inhibitors can decrease your immune function. Since rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, it doesn’t make sense to take a drug that could make the problem worse in the long run.

Instead, consider treating your inflammation naturally. Many herbs and nutrients can reduce inflammation as well as, if not better than, most drugs. So consider taking turmeric, green tea, rosemary, holy basil, ginger, Chinese skullcap, celery seed, and barberry before taking a dangerous drug. They may help reduce your pain and inflammation and prevent diabetes at the same time. And they work without any side effects.

If you’re in chronic pain, it’s also important to keep active. Another suspected link between arthritis and diabetes is the sedentary lifestyle the pain often creates. When you’re in pain, it’s hard to keep moving. But you may find the movement helps reduce the pain. If that’s not the case for you and you can’t exercise enough to burn off your excess blood sugar, then you should consider taking a supplement that helps balance your blood sugar levels and may help you prevent diabetes.

Alpha-lipoic acid, cinnamon, chromium, and many other nutrients and herbs can help reduce your sugar cravings and bring your blood sugar into balance.

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Nan Kathryn Fuchs, Ph.D.

By Nan Kathryn Fuchs, Ph.D.

holds a Ph.D. in nutrition and attended the Institute of Oriental Medical Studies. Co-founded one of the first holistic health centers in the United States in 1976. She is a published author of eight books, including "The 456 Most Powerful Healing Secrets." Her nutritional counseling practice, which she founded in 1983, has helped thousands of patients feel healthier and discover little-known cures for their chronic health issues. She has written dozens of health and nutrition articles. She has appeared on more than 100 television and radio programs. She is editor and writer of Women's Health Letter, the leading health advisory on healing for women.