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Sugar, Molecules, and Metabolism





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By Dr. Peter J. D'Adamo

Sugar Imbalance

Sometime at the beginning of the millennium, biology moved from the 'age of chemicals' to the 'age of molecules.' These molecules often work in web-like networks, mostly because life likes redundancy. The more ways things interact and support each other, the more likely everything works better.

Strangely, our understanding of obesity and metabolism still lies squarely in the age of chemicals, exemplified by the old saw, 'if you want to lose weight, just eat less.' This is not only ineffectual, but is also harmful --laying the blame solely on the lifestyle choices of the person, and often implying a lack of control and even gluttony on the part of the sufferer. 

Certainly some fault can be laid at the doorstep of Big Agribusiness.  Most prepared foods are just empty calories, cleverly (and I might add scientifically) designed to work on our worst addictive impulses. Everything seems to get a dose of extra sugar these days, sometimes even table salt. The industrial switch from more natural sugars to high fructose corn syrup was a big factor as well.  But as we will see, the epidemic of obesity and diabetes in the Western World is not just the result of excess calories, but also a perfect storm of genetics and environment, nature and nurture.

In this article I'd like to introduce you to a few concepts that may help you understand just how widespread the health effects of sugar dysregulation are, and what you can do about it.

Although there are a lot of factors and intermediaries involved, the metabolism of sugar is really a very simple fork in the road. Glucose is the biologically useful form of sugar: It can be converted to energy, or stored as fat for future use. Most problems result when the body uses Yogi Berra's advice about what to do when you come to a fork in the road ('take it') gets confused, and does the wrong thing.

If stored as fat, the fat must be converted back into glucose before it can be burnt. Lacking fat and a source of glucose in the diet, the body will even resort to converting protein into glucose, although this is inefficient and more-or-less only done in emergencies. Most of our sweeteners --such as sucrose (table sugar) are combinations of glucose and other sugars (in the case of sucrose, glucose and fructose.) The body can even make glucose from other sugars.

The molecular part of the sugar story centers around the amazing differences in the outcome of this very basic relationship, especially when we look at it organ by organ. Although the pancreas is the majordomo of sugar metabolism, secreting the hormones that regulate glucose metabolism, ironically it is not typically an organ that suffers tissue damage from sugar imbalances.

Here are a few that do and some intelligent supplementation you can use to protect them from these ill effects:

Sugar effects on the brain

BRAIN
Glucose is virtually the sole fuel for the human brain, except during prolonged starvation and if you've ever witnessed a 9 year old on a sugar rush, you know what sugar can do to the brain. This is because the brain lacks fuel stores and hence requires a continuous supply of glucose. But research out of UCLA, suggests that prolonged exposure to sugar forms free radicals in the brain's membrane and compromises nerve cells' ability to communicate. The combination of sugars and dietary lectins can also unbalance two hormones (leptin and ghrelin) that control appetite -- probably the best reason to 'eat right for your type.'

  • Regulate hormones leptin/ghrelin (appetite)
  • Block brain free-radical damage
    • Histona contains Magnolia (a herb shown to possess antioxidant effects in the nervous system)
Sugar effects on the eyes and nerves

EYES AND NERVES
Poor glucose control can lead to the buildup of another sugar in eye and nervous tissue known as aldose. Aldose buildup acts like a sponge, drawing water into the tissue, causing the cell to swell and become damaged. Aldose buildup is why diabetics often suffer from macular degeneration and neuropathy.

  • Block excess aldose accumulation in tissue
    • Quercetin has been be helpful in modulating in aldose accumulation
Sugar effects on the heart

HEART AND ARTERIES
Excessive sugar consumption (especially sucrose and fructose) can dramatically increase triglycerides in the blood (a real problem for blood type O).  In one study, subjects who got 17 to 21% of their calories from added sugar had a 38% high risk of dying from cardiovascular disease compared to those who consumed 8% of their calories from added sugar. The risk was more than double for those who consumed 21% or more of their calories from added sugar.

Sugar effects on the muscles

MUSCLES
Many types of cells, but especially muscle cells, respond to dietary fatty acids by producing signaling molecules known as PPARs (pee-pars). PPARs don't themselves have a direct role in metabolism, but they control and regulate many genes that do. Muscle tissue is rich in PPARs types that regulate fatty acid storage and glucose metabolism.  Poor regulation of PPARs in muscle tissue can lead to free radical stress and muscle pain, a generally unrecognized reason why obese individuals may be disinclined to exercise.

  • Modulate PPARs
    • Glycoscia contains the herb Salacia oblonga and the nutriceutical resveratrol, both have been shown to optimize PPARs
    • Histona contains Magnolia (an herb shown to optimize PPARs) and Scutellaria (an herb shown to promote health immunity)
Sugar effects on the liver

LIVER
In addition to its detoxification role, the liver is the major metabolic machine of the body. Much of the responsibility lies with a powerful molecule known as AMPK. AMPK role in energy metabolism is so important, that it has been given the nickname 'the fuel gauge of the cell.' Just like the fuel gauge of a car, AMPK monitors and helps control the amount of energy available to drive the cell's metabolism. AMPK also controls many of the aspects of cellular debris removal. Thus, maintaining healthy AMPK function is essential to having a well-tuned metabolism.

  • Optimize AMPK
    • El Dorado is a formula designed to optimize AMPK function
Sugar effects on the kidneys

KIDNEYS
The tiny structures that do the work in your kidneys are called nephrons. Each nephrons contains blood vessels and a glomerulus, which filters the blood. A raised blood sugar level can cause a rise in the level of some chemicals within the kidney. These chemicals tend to make the glomerulus more 'leaky,' which then allows protein (albumin) to leak into the urine. Raised blood glucose levels may also cause some proteins in the glomerulus to link together. These 'cross-linked' proteins can trigger a scarring process in the glomerulus, making its job much more difficult.

  • Optimize filtration/ protect glomerulus
    • Bromelain is an enzyme derived from pineapples that has been shown to help protect the kidneys
Sugar effects on the intestines

INTESTINES
In certain individuals, sometimes called 'hyper-assimilators,' a percentage of the undigested carbohydrate from a meal will reach the lower intestine and be broken down into additional simple sugars, which will then also be assimilated and either stored as fat or burned as energy. These individuals are known to have higher levels of a class of enzymes called glycosidases. The hyper-assimilator phenomenon may explain why calorie regulation is an effective weight loss strategy. Some people have 'extra-thrifty' digestions, and the amount of calories we'd need to restrict from the diet in order for these folks to lose weight is both impractical and unsustainable.

  • Block hyper-assimilator tendencies
    • Glycoscia contains the herb Salacia oblonga which has been shown to block the excess breakdown of carbohydrates in the intestines


Reviewed/ Revised: March 3, 2015


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