Glucose is a type of sugar that is found in many foods, including carbohydrates and fruits
It is the primary source of energy for the body's cells, however, when glucose levels become too high, it can lead to inflammation due to a process called glycation.
Glycation occurs when glucose molecules attach to proteins in the body, forming advanced glycation end products (AGEs). These AGEs are highly reactive and can damage cells and tissues throughout the body, leading to chronic inflammation.
In addition, high glucose levels can also activate a signaling pathway called the nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-kB). NF-kB is a transcription factor that regulates the expression of genes involved in inflammation. When activated, NF-kB triggers the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines (inflammatory chemicals in the bloodstream), which further exacerbate inflammation.
Chronic inflammation caused by elevated glucose levels can lead to a host of health problems, including insulin resistance, a precursor to type 2 diabetes. Insulin resistance occurs when the body's cells become resistant to the effects of insulin, a hormone that regulates glucose metabolism. This can lead to elevated glucose levels, which in turn worsen inflammation, creating a vicious cycle.
In addition to diabetes, chronic inflammation caused by elevated glucose levels can also lead to heart and cerebrovascular disease by damaging the lining of blood vessels, leading to the formation of plaques that can block blood flow and cause heart attacks and stroke, respectively.
To prevent chronic inflammation caused by elevated glucose levels, it is essential to maintain healthy glucose levels through a balanced diet and regular exercise. Avoiding high-glycemic index foods, such as sugary drinks, candy, and white bread, can help to keep glucose levels in check. Additionally, regular exercise can help to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammation.
Diabetics, who by definition have higher than normal glucose levels, must work closely with their healthcare practitioner to regulate blood sugar levels. Diet and exercise are essential but for many, additional medications may be necessary. There are various drugs available including the newest ones on the block, Semiglutitde and Terazepeptide. These are peptides that increase satiety and may lead to rapid weight loss in some.
HBOT and Inflammation
Another way to decrease inflammation is by using hyperbaric oxygen therapy. HBOT is well known to increase insulin sensitivity, leading to a drop in glucose levels during treatment.
HBOT also decreases inflammation directly via increasing oxygen delivery to tissues, reducing the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, and increasing the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines. These effects occur through changes in genetic expression (i.e. epigenetics) due to increased oxygen and pressure levels during HBOT
Inflammation from elevated glucose levels is pervasive in the US and across the world. The key is to manage glucose levels aggressively with diet, lifestyle (especially weight loss), and drugs when necessary.
In addition, HBOT is another powerful way to decrease inflammation via epigenetic mechanisms and may help facilitate glucose control as well.
- Vlassara, H., & Uribarri, J. (2014). Advanced glycation end products (AGE) and diabetes: cause, effect, or both?. Current diabetes reports, 14(1), 453.
- Hotamisligil, G. S. (2006). Inflammation and metabolic disorders. Nature, 444(7121), 860-867.
- American Diabetes Association. (2019). Insulin resistance & prediabetes. Retrieved from https://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-risk/prediabetes.