The holy grail? Carbohydrates stop the body's ability to repair.
Are carbohydrates a cause of premature ageing and other degenerative diseases? A professor of biochemistry and genetics thinks she may have discovered the key to extending life.
In part of my previous posts on My diabetes story, where I outline a regime and lifestyle I have adopted to control and reverse my diabetes, I have made statements to the fact that excess carbohydrate consumption causes the body to stop the ability to repair it's own cells and causes heart disease.
In this post, I would like to discuss the scientific research behind these claims.
The holy grail
You see it mostly all comes down to insulin, which it seems is mostly really, really bad for us as mammals. (Note: I said insulin here, not carbohydrates)
Cynthia Kenyon is a biochemist and geneticist who may have stumbled upon the holy grail of our time. In order to live to be older, have more productive, and less obese and disease riddled lives, all we need to do is cut back on the amount of insulin in our blood.
Over the last half decade, Professor Kenyon has identified and been doing research into a few different genes that control both ageing and anti-ageing. There are 2 diametric genes in particular in humans that she has been focussing on and she has identified them as ‘Sweet sixteen’ [FOXO], so called because it restores our cells to more youthful versions of themselves, and ‘The grim reaper’ [DAF 2] a gene which opposes the effectiveness of sweet sixteen in performing it's function.
Early research into worms, flies and mice have shown very promising results in being able to extend the lifespan of these animals many times over. In human terms, the equivalent of living to about 250 years old, whilst remaining young looking, with youthful bodies.
The grim reaper gene has been proven to take insulin and prevent the sweet sixteen gene from binding new proteins to our cells' DNA which activates the cell repair mode. It has been supposed that the grim reaper's purpose is to regulate the population during “good times” when evolution wants people who are living the good life to reproduce and die, making room for the next generation, whereas the opposite proponent, the sweet sixteen gene's purpose is to begin repairing the cells in bad times to prevent the untimely demise of the human race.
What can we do about this today?
While they are currently working on medications that will help with this, one of the ways today we can stop this process is to reduce the amount of insulin in our blood streams. We can do this by living a lifestyle where there is very little need for our bodies to produce insulin. You see insulin is produced as a regulatory means for the body to reduce excess blood glucose to a normal level in our bodies by facilitating it's conversion into fats by the liver.
When the human body is continually living off carbohydrate based energy, the body is continually producing insulin to convert the excess (that we don't burn immediately, which is a lot more than it used to be, in our modern lives) it into fats.
The insulin we are producing is impairing our bodies ability for the sweet 16 gene to assist in the repair of our cells, and in turn this cell damage causes things like Alzheimer's and other cell degenerative diseases from being repaired.
This is thought to be why people who live low carbohydrate and high fat lifestyles live to be older, with more vitality and are resistant to dementia and other mental diseases.
Practicing what you preach
Professor Kenyon herself has said “Carbohydrates, and especially refined ones like sugar, make you produce lots of extra insulin.
“I’ve been keeping my intake really low ever since I discovered this. I’ve cut out all starch such as potatoes, noodles, rice, bread and pasta. Instead I have salads, but no sweet dressing, lots of olive oil and nuts, tons of green vegetables along with cheese, chicken and eggs.
“I’ll have a hamburger without a bun and fish without batter or chips. I eat some fruit every day, but not too much and almost no processed food.
“I stay away from sweets, except 80 per cent chocolate.”
This is just another nail in the coffin of the repeatedly debunked lipid hypothesis that concluded “Carbs good, Fat bad”, and is the central basis for most of the world's dietary recommendations.
Title image CC0, courtesy pixabay.
'Spoonful Of Sugar' Makes The Worms' Life Span Go Down. CellPress. ScienceDaily, 5 November 2009.
Experiments that hint of longer lives TEDGlobal 2011, 13 July 2011.
Can cutting carbohydrates from your diet make you live longer? Jerome Burne for MailOnline. 26 October 2010.
How Genetics helps Healthy Ageing Patrick Holford, 28 September 2015.