July 15, 2019
Overeating and excessive glucose/sugar in your blood has always been known to be a negative event. What is really happening at the cell level? I am in the midst of a deep dive into the world of immunology and nutrition and decided it was time to share some cutting edge data. This will be science heavy. Skip to the end if you just want the take home point!
AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is an enzyme that plays a key role as a master regulator of cellular energy balance. AMPK is turned on in response to stresses that deplete cellular ATP energy supplies such as:
1) low glucose
2) hypoxia or low oxygen
3) ischemia or lack of blood flow
4) heat shock.
AMPK is a sensor that measures low energy levels and turns on the ability of our cells to make more energy as ATP. It can do this by turning on fatty acid oxidation (fat burning) or autophagy (cell breakdown). Because it senses energy demand and the lack of, AMPK negatively regulates ATP-consuming processes including gluconeogenesis (de novo glucose production in the liver), fat and protein synthesis.(Cell signaling technology 2019)
What we now know is that chronic exposure to excessive nutrient volume induces a negative effect on insulin activity at the muscle where 70-80% of glucose sugar is taken up via insulin activity for energy use. Also, excess branch chain amino acid, glucose or fatty acid volume can negatively affect the activity of AMPk and other enzymes. This sets the beginning stage of insulin resistance at the muscle level based on current theories. (Coughlan et. al. 2013) The immune system gets involved at this point causing inflammation and insulin receptor damage progressing to insulin resistance over time. (Priceman et. al. 2013) The down regulation of the energy producing AMPk enzyme causes further fatigue and lack of energy contributing to a reduction in activity worsening obesity and metabolic systems.
To reverse these risk factors for insulin resistance and reduced AMPk induced poor energy levels the research recommends exercise, diet and fasting. (Coughlan et. al. 2013) (Kjobsted et. al. 2017)
Take home point:
Chronic overeating is associated with insulin resistance and the reduced activity of the energy producing enzyme AMPkinase. This means that for those individuals who consistently eat large volumes of food beyond the natural needs of their body and genotype, that they will likely develop insulin resistance diabetes, poor energy levels and obesity. This effect will compound overtime as the immune system is called in to handle the dysfunction not knowing that it is self induced.
To mitigate these risks, I recommend, based on the research, that your family should:
1) Exercise daily to a mild sweat for 30 minutes by running, biking, swimming, hiking or whatever suits your fancy
2) Intermittently fast to limit the volume of food ingested in a 24 hour cycle
3) Eat a predominantly whole foods unprocessed diet and stop eating before you feel full
4) Maintain good oxygen levels and blood flow to reduce immune activation and inflammation by walking often, breathing deeply often, getting massages, treating sleep disorders if they exist, sleeping well and reducing stress through prayer and meditation
5) Consider the drug metformin with your providers advice to reduce mitochondrial energy center's damage and to turn on AMPkinase