Juvenon Health Journal volume 3 number 1 january 2004
By Benjamin V. Treadwell, Ph.D.
Our highly successful, post-industrial civilization has produced an epidemic: diabetes. The condition is aggravated by foods high in calories, relatively low in cost, and promoted by seductive advertising. Machines now replace much of the labor-intensive, calorie-expending work previously required for human survival. Our children, as well as adults, spend an inordinate amount of time in front of computers and TV screens, munching on fast food, candy bars and soft drinks. Consequently, the expenditure of physical energy today is a fraction of what was common to most people as recently as 50 years ago.
Many believe this is progress, but it comes at immense expense if we don’t take measures to adjust to this relatively new paradigm. Those born after the year 2000 have greater than a 36% chance of developing type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, more than 50% of the current adult population is obese and suffer from its associated metabolic pathologies. Up to 70% of patients suffering a heart attack have diabetes or pre-diabetic conditions.
This letter will concentrate on the dangers associated with consuming typical modern day foods high in sugar and fat and consequently calories. The goal is to demonstrate with scientific evidence why hyperglycemia (high blood glucose), hyperlipidemia (high blood fat) and the consequential obese condition are toxic to the cells, tissues and organs comprising our bodies and promoting premature death. We may escape the diseases associated with these conditions for a while, but the grace period is limited.
The evidence presented below describes the biochemical basis of how disease, including diabetes and associated disorders, is promoted by the over fed-state. The evidence may help you decide when enough is enough.
Once again, the mitochondria take center stage, this time as the cellular organelles affected by the over-fed body. This is logical, since the mitochondria are those cellular structures where food is ultimately converted into a chemical form of energy utilized by our cells to keep us alive. Unfortunately, too much food can transform these structures from efficient cellular energizers to clunky machines producing elevated levels of toxic by-products. We have not yet evolved a biological system to deal with excess fuel. Virtually all of our existence has involved a high state of physical activity and scarcity of food, especially of the high caloric variety common today. Cave men didn’t have a burger, Coke and French fries mid-day or after a hard day’s work. Consequently, obesity was nonexistent.
Hyperglycemia occurs when the blood carries an unusually high content of glucose – for example, following ingestion of simple sugars such as those present in soft drinks, candy and even refined flour products. The pancreas contains specifically designed cells that sense the elevated glucose. In response, they produce and secrete the hormone insulin into the blood stream. The blood-borne insulin sticks to cells containing insulin receptors, such as muscle, fat, and liver cells. Once bound to the cell membrane receptor, the hormone triggers events in the recipient cell that allows glucose to be transported from the blood to the target cell’s interior.
Once the glucose is inside the cell, what happens is largely dependent on the energy demands of the cell. If energy demand is high, such as is characteristic of a physically-mentally active individual, the glucose will be converted to the chemical form of energy (ATP) that the body utilizes to contract muscles and keep us thinking. However, if energy demand is low, as occurs in the over-fed and physically inactive state, the glucose will be converted to the energy storage molecules glycogen and fat.
OK, so why is the over-fed physically inactive person more likely to develop disease than his/her lean, active counterpart? It has been known for some time that elevated blood-glucose is associated with disease, but the ‘why’ to this story has not been so clear.
The final stages of fuel processing in the mitochondria involve a series of 4 cellular machines (commonly referred to as complex I, II, III and IV). Too much fuel produces an excess of ATP that sets off an alarm, causing one of the 4 machines (complex III) to shift into low gear. This response appears to be necessary to prevent damage to the mitochondria from an over-charged state (the mitochondrion is analogous to a car battery with stored potential energy). Since the production of energy requires several discrete machines positioned much like an assembly line within the mitochondria, downshifting one component inhibits the entire process.
A key component of complex III that is affected by this event is Coenzyme Q10, a vitamin-like substance you may take as a supplement. The structure of CoQ10 makes it an ideal compound to transport electrons from one complex in the assembly to the next. In the process, it charges the batteries (mitochondria).
In a healthy, active individual, with moderate food intake, CoQ10 quickly passes the electron to its neighbor (complex IV) in the assembly line. But when the process is put into low gear, such as occurs in the high-fed state with low energy demand, CoQ10 has to hang on to the electron for an extended period of time. This increases the chance for electrons to slip from the confines of CoQ10 and latch onto a nearby oxygen molecule, thus producing a free radical (superoxide radical). This is where the damage begins, as the free radical initiates events leading to diabetes.
How does a free radical produce the diabetic condition?
First, the superoxide radical can react with cellular structures, impairing their ability to produce energy and carry out normal cellular functions. Second, the radical impairs the ability of pancreatic cells to sense glucose in the blood. The free radicals are toxic to muscle cells and those that produce insulin. This condition, if not corrected, culminates in type II diabetes and its associated pathologies.
Most people can avoid this condition by following a simple rule. Make sure that food consumption = energy expended. The food ingested each day should contain that amount of energy you expend each day. The following guidelines may be of some help.
- Consume a nutritious diet high in fruits, vegetables, and low in simple sugars (high glycemic index) and saturated fats
- Incorporate a program of regular exercise vigorous enough to consume excess energy, and thus prevent free radical production by an overcharged and inhibited mitochondrial assembly line
Next month’s Juvenon Health Journal will cover some shocking additional discoveries associated with the obese condition. The fat cell, when full to capacity, essentially sets the body on fire!
The clear correlation between the growing obesity of the American population and the rising incidence of type 2 diabetes has long been noted. Similarly, it has long been understood that themitochondria, the organelles in our cells that convert food into energy, play a key role in the development of type 2 diabetes. Scientists around the world are working to determine the biochemical mechanisms that, when altered, can lead to this disease. A recently published and highly technical study, conducted by Harvard Medical School researchers, sheds light on why cells fail to produce adequate amounts of insulin in response to increasing concentrations of glucose. For more information,click here. (Requires Adobe Reader.)
This Research Update column highlights articles related to recent scientific inquiry into the process of human aging. It is not intended to promote any specific ingredient, regimen, or use and should not be construed as evidence of the safety, effectiveness, or intended uses of the Juvenon product. The Juvenon label should be consulted for intended uses and appropriate directions for use of the product.
Dr. Treadwell answers your questions about Juvenon™ Cellular Health Supplement
QUESTION: I purchased a 2-month supply of Juvenon and found it difficult to swallow the pills. They’re a bit big! Since I really wanted to try the product, I ground the entire bottle contents up in a coffee grinder, and now take 1/4 tsp twice a day. Is there an easier way? Maybe I’m anatomically weird, but I need help.
J.M., via email
ANSWER: No, you are not anatomically weird. Other people have reported this problem as well. One solution is to get a pill-cutter, available at drugstores. Another is to grind the tablets, as you have done, and to stir the resulting powder into a fruit juice. My favorite is V-8 juice, but grape, tomato, orange and apple work just as well. Some people have written to me saying that they mix it into honey and put in on a cracker. Crushing the tablet does not diminish the potency of the compounds.
You should also know that Juvenon is looking into alternative dosage forms. I have encouraged the development of a powder form, packaged in sachets that you could tear open and pour into your favorite fruit juice.
Benjamin V. Treadwell, Ph.D., is a former Harvard Medical School associate professor and member of Juvenon’s Scientific Advisory Board.