Cells That “Think” They’re Not Consuming Glucose May Hold a Key to Longer Lifespan

Apr 1, 2009

Canadian scientists studying the effects of glucose on cellular aging have discovered an unusual effect that could change how doctors treat diabetes and even address the human lifespan. 

It appears that if a cell on a glucose-rich diet does not  "think" it is consuming glucose, it lives longer than cells on a reduced-glucose diet. The key to this finding by researchers at the University of Montreal is the presence of a genetically created sensor in the cell that tells it that it is receiving glucose. If the sensor is removed, the cell proceeds as though there is no glucose available for it to metabolize. In other words, the presence of glucose is almost immaterial if the cell does not act as though glucose is present.

The finding came from a study on aging that was looking to see how glucose-reduced diets affect cellular lifespan. Scientists have long known that severely restricted caloric intake can increase the lifespan of laboratory mice by as much as 40 percent. Because glucose intake is drastically reduced when subjects consume perhaps only 50 percent of their caloric intake, the scientists asked whether the reduction in glucose alone could account for the increase in lifespan. Their question was based on the observation that even if the amount of glucose a cell metabolizes is reduced, the byproducts of metabolization are still thought to be major factors in the aging process. 

Using yeast cells, which are much like human cells in many respects, the Canadian researchers asked what would happen if they removed the ability of cells to detect glucose by taking away their built-in glucose sensors. The result was that such sensor-deprived cells lived longer than their low-glucose-diet counterparts.

Indirectly, the scientists' findings confirm that the over-consumption of sugar can decrease lifespan because of the toxic byproducts its metabolization produces. On the other hand, if scientists can eventually manipulate cells to "think" that they are not receiving sugar, it could help people with such metabolic disorders as diabetes overcome the effects of chronically high glucose levels.

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Categories: Blood Sugar, Diabetes, Diabetes, Nutrition Research, Professional Issues

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Posted by dorisjdickson on 7 April 2009

In my eyes, that is further proof that Dr. Bernstein continues to be right in recommending lower carb intake. That is ... that the ADA recommended feed thy face carbs as long as you feed thy cells insulin is wrong and unhealthy. Good luck convincing diabetics though ... frequently when I ask other diabetics if they choose the watermelon or their kidneys, they say the watermelon!

I can only be amused by the fact that, like the patients, the researchers prefer to try to shut off the bodies' normal response to high glucose levels rather than LISTEN to the body. We (and I mean we) continue to be a group in need of immediate self-gratification it seems.

Doris J. Dickson

Posted by Denise on 10 April 2009

I agree with Doris who commented before me. I have read Dr. Bernstein's books and feel that he is correct. The diabetes community needs to reduce their carbohydrate intake and furthermore consume quality carbs with very little sugar/white flour.
I am especially frustrated with many of the pediatric endocrinologists that have suggested to me that we must "let a kid be a kid" which somehow includes eating all the carbs they want as long as they cover them with insulin. This is why kids with Type 1 diabetes are developing insulin resistance now. It borders on malpractice.
I can't believe that there are not more pediatric endocrinologists that will suggest to parents to cut the carbs. Maybe they don't realize that MOST parents would do just about anything to help their child manage diabetes effectively.
Laura Plunkett's book - The Challenge of Childhood Diabetes - also talked about the improvement in her own child when they turned to a lower/better carbohydrate diet and how she wished someone would have told her when her son was first diagnosed.
At least give parents the option. Do the blood work, check the triglycerides, total cholesterol, LDL - make sure that all of the markers are right and then realize you will have a child that manages their diabetes better when carbohydrates are limited.

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