Potassium and Diabetes || What’s the link?

In this article, we will try to understand the relationship between Potassium and Diabetes.
Potassium is an important nutrient which regulates important functions like:
a. Movement of Muscles
b. Heart beat
c. Brain Functions
It is basically an electrolyte which maintains healthy environment for the transfer of electric signals to different parts of the body.

Any difference in potassium levels cause all kinds of problem in body functioning.
Problems like fatigue, constipation, muscle pain and heart palpitations are some of the symptoms of irregular potassium levels.

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This is an important read for the diabetic patient as they are prone to potassium irregularity in body and there has been various studies suggesting link between Potassium and Diabetes.

Diabetes is a problem of glucose metabolism.
Due to the faulty pancreas, diabetes faces difficulty in metabolizing sugar which results in rising in glucose level in their bloodstream.

There are basically 2 form of diabetes:
a. Type 1
b. Type 2

Type 1 is an autoimmune disease where the immune system completely destroys pancreas beta cells.
People suffering from Type 1 diabetes has no option but to take insulin for a living.

Type 2 is a disease of insulin resistance.
This means that the body is making insulin but the cells are not able to utilize it.
Patients with Type 2 usually take medicines, but they can also be put into insulin if the situation demands.

The problem with Potassium and Diabetes link is that apart from managing the blood sugar, diabetics face another set of challenges.
One of the challenges i would like to focus here is the maintaining ideal level of potassium in the body.

Considering how potassium is important for healthy body functioning, i decided to dedicate this article on this subject only.
Diabetes and Potassium are related to each other due to following reasons.

1. High Blood glucose levels
Whenever any diabetics face high blood sugar, the body starts removing extra glucose through urine.
If you are diabetic, you would have observed that you may need to urinate frequently as compared to the normal person.

Now this frequent urination, along with extra sugar, also removes potassium mineral from the body.
Potassium is a kind of mineral which is not stored inside the body, our kidney removes it through urine.

So, if you urinate too much, the chances of getting potassium deficient is huge.
If you are diabetic, understand that you are likely to get potassium deficient, so if you face issues like fatigue, muscle pain or heart palpitation, make sure you eat some food which is rich in potassium.

2. Insulin Mechanism
It is important to understand that in a normal person, around 98% of the potassium is stored inside the cells while the remaining 2% float outside the body.
The insulin, which is produced by the pancreas is responsible for driving this potassium mineral inside the cells.

The person suffering from diabetes produces less amount of insulin.
Less insulin means that the less number of potassium mineral will be able to enter in the cells, which results in the rise of potassium mineral in the blood.

This disturbs the potassium balance in the body and hampers its functioning.
This potassium and diabetes link is important for diabetics to understand as many diabetics don’t produce their own insulin, so it is extremely important for them to take the external dose of insulin not only for sugar control but also for potassium balance.

3. Weak Digestive Tract
One of the major complications of diabetes is the problem of digestive system.
Constant high blood sugar disturbs the nerves of the digestive system and makes it weak, which seriously hampers its working.

Weak digestive tract could not absorb the essential nutrients from the food, which cause a variety of problems and potassium deficiency is one of them.

4. Diabetic Kidoacidosis
One of the complications of diabetes is diabetic ketoacidosis.
This is the condition common in Type 1 diabetic in which the lack of insulin drives the body to use fat as a source of energy.

Basically, our body uses glucose as a source of energy.
But to use glucose, it needs insulin.
When your body doesn’t have sufficient amount of insulin, it starts using fat (stored in the body) as a source of energy.
This disturbs the PH balance of the body.
The PH of the body drops and make the environment more acidic.
This acidic environment causes potassium minerals to move away from the cells into the blood, which results in Potassium deficiency in cells.

The deficiency can cause variety of problems like fatigue, constipation, muscle pain, improper heart beat etc.

Final Word
As you would have understood by now that diabetics are prone to potassium imbalance, so it is necessary for diabetics to focus on the balanced diet.
There are diabetics, who ignore nutrition in the name of managing blood sugar, this can result in nutritional deficiency and can cause trouble in the future.

I am also against taking a potassium supplement as there are foods which are good source of potassium.
But if you are still contemplating taking supplement, i would suggest consulting your doctor first.

If you liked the article about Potassium and Diabetes, please share it with your friends and family for their nutritional understanding

Suggested Readings
Side Effects of Metformin
Home Remedies for Diabetes
Symptoms of Low Potassium

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