How Exercise Prevents Diabetes AND Preserves Your Brain

Several studies show that vigorous exercise can help to prevent and to treat diabetes. A recent study from the University of Missouri in Columbia helps to explain why (American Journal of Physiology - Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, April 2008).

The vast majority of people who have diabetes do not lack insulin. Their disease is caused by an inability to respond to insulin. Since their cells do not respond to insulin, blood sugar levels rise and damage their cells. By studying blood flowing to and from the hind legs of obese rats, researchers found that acute muscle contractions markedly increased the passage of sugar into skeletal muscles, and markedly increased the flow of electrons in mitochondria.

Muscle cells have anywhere from six to thousands of tiny inclusions called mitochondria. Mitochondria convert food to energy by shuffling electrons from the building blocks of food. Each movement of electrons supplies more energy. However, in converting food to energy, some electrons end up attached to oxygen to produce reactive oxygen species (ROS) that stick to your DNA and proteins to damage them, preventing insulin from doing its job of driving sugar into cells and shortening cell life. When a muscle contracts, it shunts electrons away from oxygen so that fewer reactive oxygen species are formed.

Furthermore, this same process protects brain function and helps to prevent strokes, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. A study from Semmelweis University in Budapest shows that the lowering of ROS levels with exercise helps to prevent loss of mental function (Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, October 2007).

More than 80 percent of diabetics die of heart disease. If you are at high risk for diabetes or are already diabetic, check with your doctor and perhaps get a thallium stress test to check out the condition of your heart. If you pass the test, you should try to exercise as much as possible. More on insulin resistance


Post a Comment