By adding just a small amount of glucose to C. elegans usual fare of straight bacteria, they found the worms lose about 20 percent of their usual life span. They trace the effect to insulin signals, which can block other life-extending molecular players.
Although the findings are in worms, Cynthia Kenyon of the University of California, San Francisco, says there are known to be many similarities between worms and people in the insulin signaling pathways.
“In the early 90s, we discovered mutations that could double the normal life span of worms,” Kenyon said. Those mutations effected insulin signals. Specifically, a mutation in a gene known as daf-2 slowed aging and doubled life span. That longer life depended on another “FOXO transcription factor” called DAF-16 and the heat shock factor HSF-1.
Although we do not fully understand the mechanism by which glucose shortens the life span of C. elegans, the fact that the two mammalian aquaporin glycerol-transporting channels are downregulated by insulin raises the possibility that glucose may have a life-span-shortening effect in humans, and, conversely, that a diet with a low glycemic index may extend human life span,” the researchers write. Kenyon also points to recent studies that have linked particular FOXO variants to longevity in several human populations, making the pathway the first with clear effects on human aging.
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This is how this research group view the impact of their work on diabetes management:
“In light of our findings, the current body of evidence tentatively calls into question the efficacy of increasing cellular glucose uptake in diabetics and suggests that other methods of lowering blood glucose (Isaji, 2007; Wright et al., 2007) may be preferable to achieve normal life expectancy in human type 2 diabetes patients.”
The two refs cited refer to techniques for extracting glucose through the kidneys or possibly reducing its uptake through the gut. No consideration seems to be given to not actually putting quite so much glucose in to the system in the first place!
Read his post and the comments, and follow the links. Good stuff.
Update (11-24-09, 10:50 AM): Here are some cookie recipes; cookies wheat-grainless and sugarless (or at least capable of being made so):
Update (11-24-09, 2:190 PM): Forgot to give a hat tip to Mark’s Daily Apple for bringing the Charles Washington post to my attention. And to Marnee D and Valda R for bringing the Dobromylskyj post to my attention.