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Cellular Health and the Risk of Diabetes

The link between type 2 diabetes and insulin production by the pancreas is well established. However, new research shows there is another important link between sugar rushes, damage to the mitochondria of the cells, and the development of diabetes.

The mitochondria are sometimes called the “power generators” of the cells. They produce the energy required by the cells. For example, the cells of the brain require a significant amount of energy to be able to communicate with other parts of the body. Without the necessary energy, the cells cannot do their jobs.

Mitochondria generate chemical energy the body needs to charge the cells, much as a battery powers a car or any electronic device. If your body is ever depleted of the energy it requires, you will begin to feel drowsy, and you will be more apt to become ill.

In the study conducted at the Yale School of Medicine, it was proven that a spike in blood sugar levels, following a meal or a snack, is controlled by the neuronal mitochondria of your brain. Before this research was completed, it was thought that blood glucose levels were primarily controlled by insulin (the pancreatic hormone), the muscles and liver. Now scientists know the mitochondria located in a small subset of neurons in the brain play a crucial role in systemic glucose control.

Sabrina Diano, senior author of the Yale study, says:

We found that when sugar increases in the body, mitochondria in subsets of brain neurons rapidly change their shape and their function is altered.

The findings imply that alterations in this mechanism may be crucial for the development of metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, in which the body is not able to clear the blood from high levels of sugar that occur after meals.

This is a significant finding, and it is important to understand the “sugar rush” we often experience is very harmful to your brain. This new knowledge affirms it is vital to avoid consuming sugar. Sugar is highly addictive, but it is not a safe substance, beyond the small amount of natural sugars present in fruit and whole grains.

 


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