Life Extension Magazine

Life Extension Magazine 2011

Cover Story

Are We All Pre-Diabetic?

By Kirk Stokel

By Kirk Stokel

Are We All Pre-Diabetic?

Even if a doctor assures you that your blood sugar is "normal," alarming evidence documents that you are at significant risk of premature death unless you achieve optimal 24-hour-a-day glucose control.

Life Extension® long ago warned of the silent dangers when fasting blood sugar exceeds 85 mg/dL. New scientific studies validate this position.

Even more insidious are data showing that blood sugar "spikes" that occur after each meal dramatically increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, retinal damage, and cancer.

Unless steps are taken to suppress after-meal sugar surges, every large meal you eat can trigger a dangerous metabolic cascade that results in cell damage and accelerated aging.

Fortunately, proven methods exist to support optimal blood sugar throughout the day.

The latest is a green coffee bean extract that targets a critical enzyme involved in after-meal blood sugar spikes. When tested on humans in a placebo-

controlled study, this natural extract produced an astounding 32% drop in after-meal blood sugar!1

An Epidemic of Elevated Blood Sugar

The percentage of adults who suffer chronic high blood sugar is staggering!

One report evaluated 46,000 middle-age individuals and found more than 80% had fasting blood sugar of 85 mg/dL or greater.2

Another study involving 11,000 middle-age and older individuals showed more than 85% had fasting blood sugar of 85 mg/dL or greater.3

Since incidence of disease starts to increase when fasting blood sugar rises above these levels, this means the vast majority of aging humans today endure chronic cellular damage associated with elevated blood sugar.

This epidemic of elevated blood sugar will accelerate age-related disease until the medical profession realizes that their test values for defining "normal" blood sugar are horrifically defective.

Mainstream Medicine's Fatal Flaws

There are two major problems with the way mainstream medicine views blood sugar.

First, the "normal" range for fasting blood sugar is still set too high. Current criteria specify that you are not "diabetic" unless fasting blood glucose exceeds 125 mg/dL. The range between 100 and 125 mg/dL is considered "pre-diabetic."4 In other words, with a blood sugar reading of 99 mg/dL, your doctor will tell you everything is fine and send you home ignorant of the dangers lurking within your body.

Recall that optimal glucose control occurs when fasting blood glucose is kept between 70 and 85 mg/dL. This means that fasting glucose levels that doctors accept today as "normal" are in reality dangerously elevated.

Second, mainstream doctors do not tell their patients about the risks of after-meal (postprandial) blood sugar spikes. After every meal, these sudden surges in blood sugar damage delicate blood vessels in your brain, heart, kidneys, and eyes, as well as accelerate the aging of cells and tissues throughout your body.

Utilizing only fasting blood glucose readings does not detect perilous after-meal glucose spikes that present an increased risk of death.5,6 The critical truth is that standard definitions of diabetes are dangerously outdated.

Scientific research shows that after-meal spikes in blood sugar are potentially more damaging than elevations of fasting blood sugar.7-10 For example, in people with "normal" blood sugars and "normal" glucose tolerance tests, the risk of a heart attack increases by 58% for each 21 mg/dL increase in after-meal blood sugar.11 And for a similar after-meal glucose elevation, risk of dying from cardiovascular disease increases by 26%.12 Control of after-meal glucose needs to be recognized as a critical component in reduction of cardiovascular complications.13

Mainstream Medicine's Fatal Flaws

What doctors don't realize is that an isolated fasting glucose reading fails to provide information on their patients' glucose control throughout the day. So when a patient has a fasting glucose reading of, let's say, 95 mg/dL, this may be an artificially low number that does not reflect the patient's real-world, all-day glucose status that may be considerably higher.

For instance, a patient with a 95 mg/dL fasting glucose reading may spend most of their day significantly above 150 mg/dL, as their aging body is unable to neutralize the impact of the excess calories they chronically ingest.

Without controlling fasting and postprandial sugar spikes, the stage is set for accelerated aging and a series of degenerative diseases.

Why We Are Predisposed to Elevated Glucose

If blood sugar ever drops too low, death rapidly ensues as brain cells cannot function long without adequate glucose. To protect against acute death in the near-starvation state our ancestors encountered, the body developed compensatory mechanisms to ensure that glucose levels don't fall too low.

The problem with these protective mechanisms is that they cause the majority of aging people today to suffer dangerously elevated blood sugar, as widespread famine no longer exists in modern societies.

How Chronic Glucose Overload Occurs

The liver stores sugar (glucose) in a form called glycogen and releases just enough to maintain a steady blood sugar level. In healthy individuals, this process of glucose release (called glycogenolysis) is suppressed after a meal to prevent blood sugar levels from rising excessively.

How Chronic Glucose Overload Occurs

While glycogenolysis protected our ancestors from acute starvation and death, the impact on people today is the opposite. As we age, this internal control mechanism (glycogenolysis) malfunctions, resulting in dangerously high blood glucose levels.

Another factor causing elevated glucose involves excess creation of new glucose in the body. In healthy people, a biochemical process known as gluconeogenesis creates new glucose from other substances such as amino acids when blood sugar levels are too low. Aging people often make too much glucose from all kinds of foods, even when blood glucose levels are already too high.

Contrary to popular belief, carbohydrates are not the only food source of blood sugar. Amino acids found in protein readily convert to blood glucose via gluconeogenesis.

An enzyme involved in gluconeogenesis and glycogenolysis is glucose-6-phosphatase.

With increasing age and rising blood sugar levels, control of glucose-6-phosphatase can become impaired. When this occurs, glucose-6-phosphatase increases the release of stored glucose from the liver (glycogenolysis) and enhances glucose creation (gluconeogenesis)…despite already sufficient after-meal blood sugar levels.

Excess activity of glucose-6-phosphatase is why many aging people find it nearly impossible to achieve optimal glucose levels. Compounds that target glucose-6-phosphatase are being aggressively sought to counter a diabetes epidemic that has nearly tripled in the United States over the past three decades.

Since conventional medical authorities are still not diagnosing patients as "diabetic" until they show fasting glucose over 125 mg/dL or after-meal glucose over 199 mg/dL, the true number of people today whose health is being destroyed by high blood sugar remains grossly underestimated.

For example, data indicate the risk for stroke increases as fasting glucose increases above 83 mg/dL. In fact, every 18 mg/dL increase beyond 83 results in a 27% greater risk of dying from stroke.14 So failing to aggressively lower glucose levels is exposing the vast majority of the American population to the leading cause of long-term disability and third highest cause of death, i.e., stroke.

Even adherence to a calorie-reduced diet, or a low-carbohydrate diet, does not always protect against skyrocketing glucose levels triggered through glucose-6-phosphatase.

To summarize, the two internal factors that conspire to elevate glucose levels are:

  1. GlycogenolysisRelease of stored glucose from the liver.
  2. GluconeogenesisCreation of new glucose from non-carbohydrates.

Excess expression of glucose-6-phosphatase is involved in glycogenolysis and gluconeogenesis. Suppression of glucose-6-phosphatase offers a crucial strategy for limiting the destructive impact of elevated after-meal blood sugar.

Combating Excess Glucose with Chlorogenic Acid

Combating Excess Glucose with Chlorogenic Acid

In the quest for natural ways to safely inhibit after-meal blood sugar spikes, scientists turned their attention to plant compounds that target the glucose-6-phosphatase enzyme.

Pharmaceutical researchers have been eager to discover a drug that would target after-meal blood sugar spikes.15,16 Ideally, this drug would suppress glucose-6-phosphatase, which is involved in new glucose formation and release of glucose from its storage site in the liver.15-18

Exciting new findings show a natural compound within the green coffee bean known as chlorogenic acid can modulate after-meal blood sugar surges.

As a multitude of studies show, coffee consumption is associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.19-23 We now understand chlorogenic acid in coffee exerts significant anti-diabetic properties. And as recent studies show, 80-85% of the adult population is at risk for diabetic complications because their blood glucose levels are too high!2