Do you know the effects glucose can have on your body? Glucose ranks as the second most impactful biomarker in the aging process. Maintaining proper glucose levels is crucial for human well-being, as unregulated high glucose levels can lead to the development of diabetes.
In this article we’ll talk all about glucose, what it is and its effects, and how it affects health and longevity.
What is glucose, and what does it do?
Let’s start with the basics, glucose is a type of sugar and a fundamental source of energy for the human body. It is a six-carbon sugar that is utilized by all cells containing nuclei as their energy source. The process of glucose breakdown referred to as glycolysis, results in the generation of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which serves as the cell's primary energy currency.
When we consume carbohydrates, our digestive system breaks them down into glucose, which is then absorbed into the bloodstream. When there is an excess of glucose not utilized for energy production, it transforms into triglycerides, which can be stored as excess body fat or accumulate in the bloodstream, ultimately contributing to the development of atherosclerotic plaque.
How glucose affects health and longevity
In the short term, consistently elevated blood glucose levels can result in symptoms like dehydration, diminished energy, fatigue, mental fog, and shakiness. If not managed, persistently high blood glucose levels are linked to an increased risk of age-related conditions such as metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, elevated fasting blood glucose levels are associated with a greater risk of premature mortality, known as all-cause mortality.
Insulin is a potent hormone released in response to spikes in blood glucose levels, typically occurring after meals. Multiple tissues in the body, including the liver, skeletal muscle, and adipose tissue, respond to insulin's signal. Insulin prompts these tissues to uptake glucose from the bloodstream, either storing it or, in the case of the liver, ceasing the release of additional glucose into the blood. Insulin resistance leads to pre-diabetes, where cells become less responsive to insulin. If blood glucose levels remain uncontrolled, they can progress to type II diabetes.
Let’s see some of the negative effects of glucose on health and longevity:
- Diabetes: Chronic high blood glucose levels, as seen in diabetes (both type 1 and type 2), can have severe health consequences. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to heart disease, kidney damage, nerve damage, vision problems, and a reduced lifespan.
- Insulin Resistance: Prolonged exposure to high glucose levels can lead to insulin resistance, where the body's cells do not respond effectively to insulin. This condition is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
- Aging: Some research suggests that excessive glucose in the bloodstream can contribute to the aging process. Elevated glucose levels may lead to the formation of advanced glycation end-products (AGEs), which can damage proteins, lipids, and DNA, potentially accelerating the aging process.
- Inflammation: High glucose levels can trigger inflammation in the body, which is a common factor in various chronic diseases. Chronic inflammation is associated with a reduced lifespan and an increased risk of age-related diseases.
- Glycation: Elevated glucose levels can lead to the glycation of proteins and other molecules, which can impair their normal function. This process is linked to the development of age-related diseases and may contribute to decreased longevity.
To promote health and longevity, it's essential to maintain balanced glucose levels through a healthy diet, regular physical activity, and, if necessary, medication for individuals with diabetes. Monitoring blood glucose, adopting a low-sugar and low-carb diet, and staying physically active are key strategies to manage glucose effectively and support overall well-being.
What is Continuous Glucose Monitoring and why it is important
Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) is a revolutionary technology designed to provide real-time and continuous monitoring of blood glucose levels in individuals, particularly those with diabetes. It offers a more comprehensive and dynamic understanding of glucose fluctuations compared to traditional intermittent fingerstick testing. CGM systems consist of a small sensor placed just beneath the skin, a transmitter, and a receiver or compatible device.
This sensor measures glucose levels in the interstitial fluid, which closely mirrors blood glucose concentrations. It collects data at frequent intervals, typically every few minutes, resulting in a continuous stream of glucose readings. The sensor sends this information wirelessly to a receiver or a smartphone, where it is displayed graphically or numerically in real time.
One of the main benefits of CGM is its ability to reveal glucose patterns and trends. Users can see how their blood sugar levels change throughout the day, including post-meal spikes, overnight variations, and reactions to physical activity. This insight empowers users to make informed (and better) decisions about their lifestyle choices, such as diet, exercise, and medication.
The historical data recorded by CGM systems are instrumental for both individuals and healthcare providers. Users can review their glucose trends over time, helping them identify patterns and optimize their diabetes management. For healthcare professionals, CGM reports provide valuable insights during consultations and enable them to make more personalized treatment recommendations.
Continuous glucose monitoring has significantly transformed diabetes care. It offers greater convenience, reducing the need for frequent finger stick tests. It enhances glycemic control by enabling proactive interventions based on real-time data. It also facilitates more precise insulin dosing, reducing the risk of hypo- and hyperglycemic events.
Benefits of Managing Glucose Levels for a Long Life
Managing glucose levels effectively offers a multitude of benefits for achieving a long and healthy life. Here are some of the key advantages:
- Diabetes Prevention: Effective glucose management can significantly lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, a chronic condition that can lead to various health complications when left uncontrolled.
- Cardiovascular Health: Stable glucose levels contribute to better heart health by reducing the risk of heart disease, heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular issues associated with high blood sugar.
- Energy and Vitality: steady glucose levels provide a steady source of energy, promoting overall vitality and reducing feelings of fatigue and sluggishness.
- Cognitive Function: Proper glucose control is essential for optimal brain function. Maintaining stable blood sugar levels can enhance cognitive abilities such as memory, focus, and decision-making.
- Mood Stability: Fluctuations in blood sugar levels can affect mood and lead to irritability and mood swings. Managing glucose helps stabilize mood and emotional well-being.
- Weight Management: Effective glucose management can aid in weight control by reducing cravings, promoting healthier food choices, and supporting weight loss efforts.
- Reduced Diabetes Complications: For individuals with diabetes, well-managed glucose levels can delay or prevent complications such as neuropathy, retinopathy, and kidney disease, leading to an improved quality of life.
- Longevity: Research suggests that maintaining stable glucose levels may contribute to a longer and healthier life by reducing the risk of age-related diseases and promoting overall well-being.
- Improved Quality of Life: Stable glucose levels reduce day-to-day fluctuations in energy and mood, resulting in an improved overall quality of life.
- Better Sleep: Proper glucose management can help stabilize blood sugar levels during the night, leading to better sleep quality and overall restorative sleep.
- Prevention of Hypoglycemia: Effective glucose management helps prevent potentially dangerous hypoglycemic episodes, which can be life-threatening for individuals with diabetes.
- Enhanced Physical Performance: Athletes and active individuals benefit from stable glucose levels, as they provide consistent energy during physical activities and support optimal performance.
- Disease Prevention: Maintaining healthy glucose levels reduces the risk of other chronic conditions, such as metabolic syndrome and certain types of cancer.
- Empowerment and Confidence: Successfully managing glucose levels empowers individuals to take control of their health, leading to increased confidence and a sense of achievement.
By controlling and managing glucose levels effectively you’ll be promoting a longer and healthier life for yourself and reducing the risk of chronic diseases, particularly diabetes and cardiovascular conditions. Remember to keep a healthy and active lifestyle working out regularly and taking proper rest.