Among the many complications of type 2 diabetes, the development of cardiovascular disease and poorer clinical outcomes following cardiovascular events, especially heart attacks, may be of particular concern.
A recent study published in the journal Diabetes suggests that a lack of a specific molecule in red blood cells may be the root of type 2 diabetes-induced vascular complications.
In recent years, research has shown that these specialized cells undergo several changes and can become dysfunctional in people with this form of diabetes.
Red blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. They also transport carbon dioxide back to the lungs for exhalation. In a lesser-known but equally crucial role, red blood cells have an influence on maintaining cardiovascular equilibrium, or homeostasis. This is partly achieved through the production of nitric oxide.
The body uses nitric oxide to widen blood vessels. And researchers have noted that red blood cells in people with type 2 diabetes have a reduced ability to produce nitric oxide. This can lead to the constriction of coronary arteries.
Type 2 diabetes can also affect the release of adenosine triphosphate by red blood cells. This is the primary molecule for storing and transferring energy within the body.
Another change in the red blood cells of people with diabetes is an increased formation of reactive oxygen species. The presence of these molecules can lead to more plaque formation on the interior walls of arteries, a health problem called atherosclerosis.
In the new study, researchers at the Karolinska Institutet, in Sweden, investigated which molecular changes within red blood cells could explain these dysfunctions. The team recruited 36 participants with type 2 diabetes and 32 healthy participants who did not take medication and had normal fasting glucose levels and no history of cardiovascular disease.
The researchers found that the red blood cells of those with type 2 diabetes had much less microRNA-210 than those of the healthy participants. MicroRNA molecules occur naturally and regulate cellular functions, including vascular activity.
The study showed that the reduction in microRNA-210 caused changes in specific vascular protein levels. These alterations contributed to the development of endothelial dysfunction. The endothelium is the thin membrane that lines the heart and blood vessels.
The researchers also found that atherosclerotic plaques taken from participants with type 2 diabetes had lower levels of microRNA-210 than those from the healthy participants.
In addition, glycemic control through medication appeared to have no major influence on the detrimental effects of the changes to red blood cells in participants with type 2 diabetes.
Dr. Swapnil Khare, an assistant professor of clinical medicine and medical director of inpatient diabetes at Indiana University School of Medicine, shared her thoughts on the study with Medical News Today. She was not involved in the research.
“They showed in a part of the study that if they replace the microRNA, the endothelial dysfunction did improve,” Dr. Khare explained. “I would say this isn’t a surprising study, but definitely exciting.”
The direct relationship between microRNAs and red blood cells has yet to be completely understood. The study authors acknowledge that clarifying the signaling pathways between these biostructures will require further research.
In an interview with MNT, Dr. Zhichao Zhou, a researcher at Karolinska Institutet and the first author of the study, said:
“Given [that] microRNAs are very stable in circulation in general, and [that] we observed that red blood cell microRNA-210 levels are decreased in type 2 diabetes, microRNA-210 may become a potential diagnostic marker to predict possible vascular complications.”
In the conclusion to the study paper, the researchers write that increasing red blood cell microRNA-210 levels has the potential to be an effective treatment for endothelial dysfunction and help prevent vascular injury in people with type 2 diabetes.
In this edition of Medical Myths, we focus on diabetes. We discuss natural "cures," physical activity, driving, prediabetes, and more.
A low red blood cell count, or anemia, causes many symptoms and complications. People can increase their red blood cell count with lifestyle changes…
What are red blood cell disorders? Read on to learn more about these conditions, including the different types and examples of RBC disorders.
Several genes can cause type 2 diabetes, and lifestyle and environmental factors can trigger them to cause the condition.
Under certain conditions, type 2 diabetes can go into remission. It depends on a person’s lifestyle. Learn more, including diet, health, and…
The 5 Best Lifestyle Habits That Will Keep You Feeling Young, Science Says — Eat This Not That – Eat This, Not That
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Some say age is a mindset, but it’s also a lifestyle. The decisions we make each and every day can determine and sway just how much the hands of time hold over us. By getting into the right lifestyle habits, you’re going to look and feel younger, regardless of the decade you were born.
Consider this study, published in the International Journal of Aging Research. Scientists report most modern, older adults feel decades younger on the inside. Similarly, this survey of 2,000 adults, ages 65 and above, reports half of them feel younger than 50 years old.
So, what exactly is their secret? It may have something to do with more seniors than ever exercise on the regular. This poll indicates today’s older adults (ages 50+) spend more time physically active than earlier generations. Moreover, research recently published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research even concludes adults over the age of 65 have been working out more than any other age group during the coronavirus pandemic.
Indeed, if you’re on the lookout for new ways to rejuvenate your mind and body, regular exercise should be the first item on your list. More specifically, resistance training is an incredible ally in the fight against aging. According to Emily Servante, senior CPT at Ultimate Performance, a regular regimen of weight lifting and resistance exercises is key to graceful aging for both men and women.
“Can weight training ‘make you younger?’ The plain answer is no, but it can make you feel a whole lot younger, more mobile, and more energetic. Introducing regular resistance training into your routine can massively improve hormonal and inflammatory issues in older people, which is key in preserving and increasing muscle mass, slowing down sarcopenia (muscle wasting), and increasing fat loss,” Servante explains.
You may be wondering what other lifestyle changes you can adopt to fend off the effects of aging and feel younger. If so, you’re in luck! Read on to learn about the best lifestyle habits that will keep you feeling young, according to science. And for more, check out If You Think This About Yourself, You’ll Live Longer, Says New Study
Sleeping well is essential, but that doesn’t make it any easier to get some shuteye on restless nights. Between work, play, and a 24/7 news cycle, it’s very easy in these modern times to push sleep aside as an afterthought. If you want to look and feel younger, though, proper sleep is non-negotiable.
“Good quality rest allows your body to rest and repair itself — including your skin, for those who want to look younger to match their energy — and is necessary for the health and functioning of every single bodily process. Waking up with youthful energy often rests on how deeply you commit to a healthy sleep routine,” explains CSSC Stephen Light of Nolah Mattress.
It’s also important to mention that it’s possible to get too much sleep. Recent research published in BRAIN reports that habitually sleeping for less than 4.5 hours or over 6.5 hours on a nightly basis is linked with greater cognitive decline among older individuals. So just remember to set an alarm!
As far as how to more easily attain a satisfying night’s rest, Light suggests sculpting a personalized bedtime routine to follow night in and night out. “One of the most important things is building a soothing sleep ritual, which could look like playing light music, having herbal tea, or taking a bath — and try to stick to a consistent bedtime,” he recommends.
Related: Avoid These Sleep Positions for Better Z’s, Say Experts
The power of the mind shouldn’t be underestimated, and fascinating recent research published in The Journals of Gerontology: Series B tells us that simply being pessimistic about growing old can lead to a faster deterioration in both overall health and wellbeing. In other words, if you’re constantly ruminating about how awful growing old is going to be, [you] may very well prove yourself right. “It’s kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy,” says lead study author Dakota Witzel, a doctoral candidate at Oregon State University’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences.
Over 100 Oregon locals between ages 52 and 88 took part in this study. It’s worth noting that subjects with worse self-perceptions of aging were much more vulnerable to stressors, reporting more physical health symptoms on particularly stressful days.
“These things are truly important for our health and well-being, not only long-term, but in our day-to-day life,” Witzel adds. “The likelihood of reporting these physical health symptoms is significantly decreased, on average, when you have better self-perceptions of aging.”
This survey finds the key to a long, happy, youthful life is finding the time for some childlike, carefree activities, no matter your age. What’s more carefree than taking a vacation? When we travel someplace special, we broaden our horizons, let go of long-lingering stress, and make lifelong memories and maybe even new friendships.
“I believe that travel is one of the things that keeps us young. Exploring the world provides us with a sense of wonder and makes us feel young. It helps keep our sense of curiosity young,” states Lee Jason Friend, Holistic Services Coordinator at The Ohana Addiction Treatment Center.
Furthermore, this study released in Tourism Analysis finds people who travel more often are happier in general, and this project released in The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging concludes travelers tend to live longer in general. Why? Vacations relieve stress, and it’s well-documented that excessive stress levels will accelerate the aging process.
“Don’t think having an otherwise healthy lifestyle will compensate for working too hard and not taking holidays,” says Professor Timo Strandberg of the University of Helsinki, Finland. “Vacations can be a good way to relieve stress.”
Related: Meditating Can Impact Your Immune System In This Incredible Way, New Study Says
We touched on the importance of exercise earlier, but it’s equally as essential to make sure you’re working out your brain, too.
“Your brain ages just like the rest of your body as part of the natural aging process. It shrinks, slows down, and becomes less adaptable to change. Therefore, to stay healthy, it’s critical to stretch your brain as well your heart, legs, and other muscles,” explains Karalyn Cass, a Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) coach and program coordinator with First Mile Care.
Flexing your neurological muscles doesn’t have to be a chore. This study published in the scientific journal Neurology discovered that keeping your brain active — for example, playing more mentally stimulating activities like board games, card games, and puzzles — goes a long way toward preserving the mind’s gray matter and preventing dementia.
Another research initiative released in The Journals of Gerontology: Series B came to similar conclusions. Study authors report that people who routinely play non-digital games throughout their lives show stronger memory and thinking skills by the time they reach their 70s.
Adult life can be quite hectic. In between navigating the day’s daily chores and obligations, it’s easy to start feeling like your hand is barely on the steering wheel of your own life. Interestingly, this study published in The Journals of Gerontology: Series B reports that when older adults feel totally in control of their lives, they also feel younger.
The next afternoon, you find yourself running around and getting things done for your family or job, take some time and do something just for you. Even if it’s as simple as taking 15 minutes to read some of your book, stretch it out with yoga, or go for a relaxing walk around your favorite local neighborhood.
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