If you knew of one thing you could do to dramatically improve your health, and to reverse aging, would you do it?
Well, there is one health and anti-aging strategy that stands out above all others, and that is to control your blood glucose levels. Not only is this essential to health and aging, it is one of the most overlooked factors in determining health. You can take handfuls of supplements, but if your blood sugar is not under control, you can never have optimal health. Right now in the United States about one third of the population is diabetic, and another third is pre-diabetic. So at least 2/3 of the population has out-of- control blood glucose, and I think it is safe to say that number is higher than 2/3 and rising.
Why is this such a big deal?
Several things happens as our blood glucose rises. Here’s the short list:
Spikes in blood sugar contribute to accelerated aging. When blood sugar is not controlled we produce metabolic by-products called AGE’s (appropriate term since they accelerate aging), or Advanced Glycation End Products. AGE’s cause cellular oxidation and inflammation which in turn contribute to an array of degenerative diseases. They also cause telomere shortening. Telomeres are the caps at the end of each strand of DNA that protect our chromosomes, like the plastic tips at the end of shoelaces. Science has shown that telomeres are directly involved in aging, and that the shorter they are, the quicker we age. This is why some people look much younger than their chronological age, and some much older.
Elevated blood sugar causes hormonal dysregulation. Our hormones are absolutely crucial to cell function, weight control, and anti-aging. Blood sugar spikes cause inflammation in the cellular membranes where hormonal receptor sites are located. This means the hormones cannot get their message to the cell. This leads not only to insulin resistance (insulin is a hormone), but all sorts of other hormonal problems. Most diabetics have thyroid problems because of the disruption of the thyroid hormone receptors on the cell membrane. Elevated blood glucose is known to cause a general decrease in sensitivity to all hormone receptors at the cellular level.
Moreover, remember that diabetics do not die of diabetes. Rather they age prematurely and develop other inflammatory diseases such as heart disease, stroke, obesity, and more. Diabetics literally age faster at the cellular level, evidenced by outward signs such as age spots and wrinkles, and symptoms such as necrosis (lost appendages due to nerve degeneration). Once AGES are produced due to out of control blood sugar, the degeneration process begins and disease soon follows. You don’t need to be diabetic to suffer the ill effects of elevated blood sugar. Even daily spikes in your blood glucose can trigger these negative effects.
What Causes Elevated Blood Glucose?
Excessive carbohydrate consumption. Sugar is the most obvious culprit here. The average American consumes 130 lbs of sugar yearly, or about 45 grams per day. Sugar is a “hidden ingredient” in many processed foods. There is evidence that HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup),which is now the most prevalent sweetener used, may be even worse that regular sugar, causing even more inflammation and AGES. HFCS is metabolized in the liver by the same pathway as alcohol. Your body treats it as a toxin. For more on this see my blog on “Sugar and Your Health”. Grains are the next big problem, especially corn and wheat. They can spike your blood sugar even more dramatically that sugar. Your morning bowl of cereal or oatmeal can spike your blood sugar as much as a 12 oz. soda. Consider all the bread, pasta, pizza and chips most of us consume in a day, and its no wonder this is an epidemic. “Healthy Grains” such as your 12 grain whole wheat bread spike blood sugar as much as white bread. Speaking of soda, I still see many adults and children consuming sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks, and even fruit juices, which are as bad as other sugary drinks.
Excessive protein consumption. Many Americans consume too much animal protein. Adequate amounts of protein are essential to health, and for most of us 50-75 grams a day is sufficient. An egg contains 6 grams of protein and and 3oz. chicken breast about 38 grams. Excessive protein is easily converted by the body to sugar by a process called “gluconeogenesis”, so can also contribute to elevated blood glucose levels.
Inadequate consumption of good fats. Fat is actually the preferred fuel source for the body. Fat burns very clean, like natural gas, while sugar burns very dirty, like wood. The dirt or smoke from sugar are the AGE’s, which are not produced when we burn fat. We have been seriously mislead by popular media about fats, being told that eating fat will cause clogged arteries and heart attacks. Fortunately, solid scientific studies have vindicated the role that good fats play in our health. Saturated fat is actually good for us, while the so called “healthy polyunsaturated fats” (PUFAS) such as canola, soybean, sunflower and other refined vegetable oils, are really bad for us. MCT’s (Medium Chain Triglycerides), found in butter and coconut oil, are very helpful in helping us transition from burning sugar to burning fat. For a primer on incorporating more good fat into your diet click here.
Sedentary lifestyle. Exercise increases the number of mitochondria at the cellular level, while lack of exercise decreases that number. Mitochondria are the energy factories of the cells. More mitochondria means more efficient energy burning, which helps keep our glucose levels down. One of the best exercise strategies is called “burst training” or HIT (High Intensity Training). Not only does this increase the number of mitochondria, it also causes a release of HGH (Human Growth Hormone). HGH stimulates fat burning, increases muscle mass, decreases inflammation, increases libido and mental clarity, and slows aging. 10 minutes of burst training can elevate HGH levels up to 2000%, and can stimulate fat burning for up to 36 hours post exercise.
Now that you understand what causes high blood sugar levels, you know what you can do about it. I recommend that you purchase a blood sugar meter, and start checking your blood sugar throughout the day. The Precision X-Tra Glucose and Ketone Meter by Abbott is my personal choice. It gives you the flexibility to check both your glucose and ketones. You need to order test strips separately. The best source is from Universal Drugstore, and online seller. Check it fasting and an hour or so after eating and exercise. Notice patterns according to what you have eaten in the last 12 hours. Ideally, your blood sugar should stay below 80, with 50-70 being the ideal range. It can take some time to shift your metabolism away from sugar burning to fat burning, but the effort is well with the results. This is called becoming fat adapted, and you can learn more here. You will have more energy, lose weight, and look younger. One of the best strategies to help the transition from sugar to fat burning is intermittent fasting. Click on the link to learn more.
I’m hoping you feel inspired to take action and get your blood sugar under control. It really is one of the best things you can do to slow aging and live in optimal health. We are here to help you in this process if you need additional information or coaching.