'Spoonful of Sugar' Makes The Worms' Lifespan Go Down

sugarIf worms are any indication, all the sugar in your diet could spell much more than obesity and type 2 diabetes. Researchers reporting in the November issue of Cell Metabolism say it might also be taking years off your life.

By adding just a small amount of glucose to C. elegans’ usual fare of straight bacteria, they found the worms lose about 20 percent of their usual lifespan. They trace the effect to insulin signals, which can block other life-extending molecular players.

Although the findings are in worms, Cynthia Kenyon of the University of California, San Francisco says there are known to be many similarities between worms and people in the insulin signaling pathways department.

As an aside, Kenyon says she read up on low-carb diets and changed her eating habits immediately -- cutting out essentially all starches and desserts -- after making the initial discovery in worms. The discovery was made several years ago, but had not been reported in a peer-reviewed journal until now.

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Limiting glucose (sugar) in your diet is a well-known key to longevity. In worms, past studies have shown that cutting down on this one element increased their lifespan the equivalent of 15 human years, which is a major improvement.

This current study also found that adding just a small amount of glucose to the worms’ diet cut their lifespan by about 20 percent!

If you avoid glucose in your diet, does this mean that you’ll live for another 15 years or add 20 percent to your lifespan? It’s impossible to say, but what I can say is that you may very likely live quite a bit longer.

The effect is related to insulin signals, the same signaling pathways that have been modified to extend the lifespan of fruit flies by 50 percent.

Sugar, Insulin and Lifespan: The Important Connection You Need to Know

Your blood glucose levels rise slightly every time you eat. This is natural. What is not natural is that, with the average American now eating about 2.7 pounds of sugar every week, your blood glucose levels may very likely become excessively elevated, then stay that way.

It is a well-proven fact that sugar increases your insulin and leptin levels and decreases receptor sensitivity for both of these vital hormones. This can lead to:

  • High blood pressure and high cholesterol

  • Heart disease

  • Diabetes

  • Weight gain

  • Premature aging

Elevated insulin levels are one of your key physical influences that contribute to rapid aging, and there is no question that optimizing your insulin levels is an absolute necessity if you want to slow down your aging process.

Consuming sugar and grains will increase your insulin level, which is the equivalent of slamming your foot on your aging accelerator. There’s simply no more potent way to accelerate aging than eating sugar and grains.

Sugar Accelerates Aging

The harmful effects of too much sugar extend even beyond their impacts on insulin, and are two-fold, as Dr. Ron Rosedale, who is widely considered to be the leading anti-aging doctor in the United States, explains.

“We know sugar increases insulin, but even by itself sugar is bad for you … Glycation is the same as oxidation, except substitute the word glucose. When you glycate something you combine it with glucose. Glucose combines with anything else really; it‘s a very sticky molecule.

Just take sugar on your fingers. It‘s very sticky. It sticks specifically to proteins. So the glycation of proteins is extremely important. If it sticks around a while, it produces what are called advanced glycated end products (A.G.E.s).

That acronym is not an accident. If you can turn over, or re-manufacture, the protein that‘s good, and it increases the rate of protein turnover if you are lucky. Glycation damages the protein to the extent that white blood cells will come around and gobble it up and get rid of it, so then you have to produce more, putting more of a strain on your ability to repair and maintain your body.

That is the best alternative; the worst alternative is when those proteins get glycated that can‘t turn over very rapidly, like collagen, or like a protein that makes up nerve tissue. These proteins cannot be gotten rid of, so the protein accumulates, and the A.G.E.s accumulate and continue to damage.

Glycated proteins make a person very pro-inflammatory, so we age and, at least partially, accumulate damage by oxidation. One of the most important types of tissues that oxygenate is the fatty component, the lipid, especially the poly-unsaturated fatty acids, and they turn rancid and glycate.

The term for glycation in the food industry is carmelization. It is used all the time to make caramel. So the way we age is that we turn rancid and we carmelize. It‘s very true, and that is what gets most of us.”

So eating sugar will not only increase your insulin levels, which in turn will contribute to premature aging, it will also increase the formation of AGEs in your body, which also contribute to chronic disease and aging.

Optimizing Your Insulin is a Key Anti-Aging Strategy

You may have heard of calorie restriction as a way to extend lifespan. Restricting calories has been found to reduce metabolic rate and oxidative stress, improve insulin sensitivity, and alter neuroendocrine and sympathetic nervous system function in animals.

The mechanism behind these effects is not completely known, but I suspect the majority of the benefits from calorie restriction are related to its influence on insulin, as reducing calories also reduces insulin.

Since most people are not willing to reduce calories to the point it would offer benefit, you can do a modified version of this by simply cutting out sugars and grains from your diet.

As the original study on worms points out, this appears to be a very valuable tool in extending lifespan, and is a strategy I routinely recommend to optimize your health.

As Dr. Rosedale says:

“There is no essential need for carbohydrates. Why are we all eating carbohydrates? To keep the rate of aging up, we don‘t want to pay social security to everyone.”

The exception here is carbohydrates from fresh veggies, as these are very beneficial.

If you’d like to give this a try, my nutrition plan, based on natural whole foods, is your first step toward increasing your chances of living a longer, healthier life. The heart of my program is the elimination, or at the very least, drastic reduction of grains and sugar in your diet, which is a far simpler way of restricting your calorie intake naturally, and thereby potentially increasing your lifespan, without suffering.

Also please be sure to review the first link in Related Articles 76 Ways Sugar Can Ruin Your Health as it will give you a far better understanding of just how important sugar is in damaging your health.