Sugar and all cause mortality?

Sugar consumption has been a huge issue for some time now .Most people focus on drinking and smoking as issues,which they are put most of us are functioning sugar addicts with a blood sugar chart that resembles the current bitcoin price trends. We get hangovers from sugar. On more than one occasion I’ve heard people in various gyms tell each other not to worry about sugar intake because ‘sugar turns to muscle’. Yes sugar can be a fuel in high intensity events, but in general sugar creates a hormone cascade in the body that ultimately prevents proper muscle development and severely affects mental and physical health over time. People think they have more energy when they eat sugar but this really isn’t true. An important hormone to look at is insulin. It’s produced by an organ called the pancreas. Insulin is released by beta cells in the pancreas(which stop working if stressed enough), and this insulin binds to receptors in cells (muscles) to facilitate the transport of glucose into the cells. Its role is to allow sugar (blood glucose) to reach cells and to send excess sugar for storage in adipose tissue (fat). High amounts of sugar decrease the amount of insulin receptors on cells meaning less sugar is used leaving more in the blood and adipose tissue.The rise of blood glucose is measured on the glycaemic index (GI) scale.

Insulin is the hormone of aging (type diabetes, heart attacks, stroke, cancer, blindness. For every point your blood sugar is above 70mg/dl your risk of heart disease goes up 5%, so if you look at the upper level of ‘normal range’ which is 99mg/dl your risk of disease goes up 145%. Now something to remember is that most of this normative data is taken from people who aren’t actually healthy (because the general population isn’t healthy as a group). If your levels are this high you’re probably miserable. Normative data is taken from the general population which is a population with very low activity levels combined high fat levels and stress levels. High levels of sugar are toxic for the body and prolonged sugar exposure damages nerve cells. This is why people with diabetes can go blind or loose limbs

 

 

Healthcare/economics

A topic regularly spoken about is the need for a bigger budget in the health service. Reasons highlighted are the long wait for beds and not enough doctors per patient ratios. Now this is only partly true. We are the second most obese country in Europe and we are fast becoming number one. What about a public nutrition budget instead? In Ireland 60% of the population is overweight or obese. Most of the conditions seen in hospitals are as a result of the complications of high sugar diets and lack of exercise(cancer, hypertension, obesity, diabetes). If I was to take 10 random people off the street 6 of them would be obese by these figures. A dangerous illusion about health is measuring of the body circumference and our height to weight ratio(BMI). People confuse the term thin and skinny, a thin person can have respectable levels of muscle mass and function while a skinny person will have a high % fat level relative to their mass. Most people who think they are thin are actually what is termed skinny fat( very low muscle mass cover by high fat which makes them appear normal weight).When I speak to clients most would class themselves as ‘reasonably fit’. By this they mean that they can walk when they need to and do their job without major issues, but when they get blood tests done most are in the higher end of normal range or unhealthy range for blood pressure and blood sugar. Being in this higher range is not good, the general population as a group is not healthy ,just because most people fall in this group doesn’t make it ok or normal. As the general public become more unhealthy so too does the normative data acquired from studies.

Sugar is quite dangerous to us in many ways, our health suffers, and we then turn to medication, cars and other ways of avoiding the problem except addressing our diet and lack of activity. The unhealthier we get the more money we spend. If you are making €70,000 but are highly sedentary with a terrible diet it becomes a very small amount when the costs to your physical and mental health are added up. Our sugar epidemic is also crippling us economically (drugs are expensive after all). Exercise can’t fully compensate for the amount sugar in processed foods or health care costs. No matter how much exercise you do you cannot get rid of the toxics in your system fully, similarly you can’t undo your bad health by spending thousands on pills, the only way to counteract this is to eat healthy. Biochemistry is very complicated, so simply put good food is good, bad food is bad.

Brain

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Sugar alters your thought patterns, whether you’re aware of this or not, your decisions tend to be less rational and moreemotional while on a high sugar in the diet. 1 in 3 adults don’t get enough sleep, most of this is linked with diet. Sugar directly affects the quality of sleep. Sleep is  essential to repair the brain, and for the release of the body’s natural hormones that make us superhuman when we get good sleep consistently. The issue with quick sugar sources is the severe spike and drop in blood sugar. High and low blood sugar wreak havoc on the brain’s function. You already know that fast sugars are out of the question. High sugar intakes correlate with acute and significant drops in IQ. Specifically prediabetic individuals have a higher risk of cognitive decline, poor memory, and loss of brain function than any others. It has been estimated that a 20% decrease is the norm. Plus, the sugar rush comes with symptoms that bear striking similarities to those of ADHD. Not exactly the ideal condition to develop consistent productivity at work. High blood sugar also depletes dopamine. This neurotransmitter is essential for sustained focus and drive. Two things you want in ample quantities when trying to get ahead. High blood sugar effects BDNF. BDNF is the brain growth factor. It sustains and repairs neuronal circuits, one pivotal mechanism when it comes to learning and making memories. High long-term production of insulin is linked to the development of Alzheimer’s and diabetics are twice more likely to develop Alzheimer’s. When you have high levels of insulin resistance, you have 3 times the likelihood of suffering from depression.

 

Yet you don’t want to slide down the slippery slope of hypoglycaemia. When you spike your insulin, you cause reactive hypoglycaemia. This has been shown to damage the brain because the blood sugar is then too low. Confusion and slow thinking go hand in hand with low blood sugar. Additionally, low blood sugar raises cortisol. If the condition goes unchecked for extended periods of time, it negatively impacts memory. It actually shrinks your hippocampus. The hippocampus happens to be general quarters for memory formation, learning and the control of emotions.

Cardiovascular system

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High glucose levels reduce the levels of the powerful vasodilator nitric oxide in blood vessels, a shortfall that increases the risk of high blood pressure and eventually narrows down the vessels.  I had a very productive summer and winter in athletics on the track and in cross country, this was due to limiting sweets only, when I rewarded myself at Christmas with an Oreo donut I had the shacks, headaches and ended up throwing up due to the nausea. My system hadn’t had a high exposure to sugar in months, this reaction shows how toxic it is, our body doesn’t naturally want high sugar foods, we can only tolerate them because of loss of insulin receptors in our cells and the release of cortisol and growth hormone which also desensitise our cells to insulin.

Combining a complete lifestyle approach of a healthful diet, regular movement and stress reduction will improve quality of life, reduce cardiovascular and all-cause mortality. Obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus and the metabolic syndrome are major risk factors for cardiovascular disease, association between low levels of testosterone and the above insulin-resistant states, with a prevalence of hypogonadism(low testosterone) of up to 50% in men with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Low levels of testosterone are also associated with an increased risk of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality. Hypogonadism and obesity share a bidirectional relationship as a result of the complex interplay between adipocytokines, proinflammatory cytokines and hypothalamic hormones that control the pituitary-testicular axis. Interventional studies have shown beneficial effects of testosterone on components of the metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes mellitus and other cardiovascular risk factors, including insulin resistance and high levels of cholesterol. Biochemical evidence indicates that testosterone is involved in promoting glucose utilization by stimulating glucose uptake, glycolysis and mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation. Testosterone is also involved in lipid homeostasis in major insulin-responsive target tissues, such as liver, adipose tissue and skeletal muscle. The fatter you get the less testosterone you produce which worsens the effects of high sugar levels on the body.

 

Stress

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Cortisol is known as the stress hormone. Cortisol released in response to insulin spikes will also affect your posture/body language, making you appear closed off or stressed, this will make it harder to make business contacts or friends. People don’t like associating with visibly stressed people. This doesn’t bode well for your business. Under stressful conditions, cortisol provides the body with glucose by tapping into protein stores via gluconeogenesis in the liver. This energy can help an individual fight or flee a stressor. However, elevated cortisol over the long term consistently produces glucose, it makes cells less sensitive to insulin so sugar stays in the blood stream, (most of us, particularly those in banking/finance roles have high stress levels relative to the physical exertion, a waiter is also a stressful position but all that moving helps burn the sugar released).Excess sugar will be stored as fat but high levels will still be produced by cortisol circulation. Slow healing of wounds and easy bruising also happen with a high sugar diet, this is partly due to chronic high cortisol levels and higher bacteria production around wounds that feed on sugar.

How to Manage Insulin?

The key to controlling insulin lies in fact with the ratio and nature of macro-nutrients. Your brain is your most vital organ, keep that in mind. Please don’t be one of those people who has huge cheat days, it’s really not good for you. In fact, just keep having these insulin spikes and you won’t even remember to go to the gym…What is the point of spiking your insulin to get big and lean if it makes you forgetful. Eat a diet high in fruit, veg, meat and nuts.

 

References:

Chen JX, Yan SD. Amyloid-beta-induced mitochondrial dysfunction. J Alzheimers Dis. 2007 Sep;12(2):177-84.

 

Cordain, L., et al. 2005. Origins and evolution of the Western diet: Health implications for the 21st century. Am J Clin Nutr 8 (2):341–54.

 

Fishel MA, Watson GS, Montine TJ, et al. Hyperinsulinemia provokes synchronous increases in central inflammation and beta-amyloid in normal adults. Arch Neurol. 2005 Oct;62(10):1539-44.

 

Jovanović Z. Mechanisms of neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s disease. Med Pregl. 2012 Jul-Aug;65(7-8):301-7.

 

Lustbader JW, Cirilli M, Lin C, et al. ABAD directly links Abeta to mitochondrial toxicity in Alzheimer’s disease. Science. 2004 Apr 16;304(5669):448–52.

 

Moreira PI, Harris PL, Zhu X, et al. Lipoic acid and N-acetyl cysteine decrease mitochondrial-related oxidative stress in Alzheimer disease patient fibroblasts. J Alzheimers Dis. 2007 Sep;12(2):195-206.

 

Muller WE, Eckert A, Kurz C, Eckert GP, Leuner K. Mitochondrial dysfunction: common final pathway in brain aging and Alzheimer’s disease–therapeutic aspects. Mol Neurobiol. 2010 Jun;41(2-3):159-71

 

Timonen, M. et al. 2007. Insulin resistance and depressive symptoms in young adult males: Findings from Finnish military conscripts. Psychosom Med 69(8):723–28.

 

Wang X, Su B, Lee HG, et al. Impaired balance of mitochondrial fission and fusion in Alzheimer’s disease. J Neurosci. 2009 Jul 15;29(28):9090–103.

 

Yaffe, K., et al. 2004. The metabolic syndrome, inflammation, and risk of cognitive decline. JAMA

Moore SC , Patel AV , Matthews CE , et al . Leisure time physical activity of moderate to vigorous intensity and mortality: a large pooled cohort analysis. PLoS Med 2012;9:e1001335.doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001335 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

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