Glycemic Variability & Cardiovascular Risk
Glycaemic variability is a major marker for cardiovascular health and is considered a high-value target for health and longevity. Anyone that’s measured their blood glucose will be more aware that you can have particularly large spikes in blood glucose after a meal but not how to prevent that or why it might be happening.
Now while the why will have to wait for another post I will discuss how to reduce it and live a longer, better quality life as a result. Spikes in glucose will cause excessive production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) which are better known as free radicals, they do this through many ways such as excess formation of glycation products as I mentioned in a previous post on sugar rushes. They can also create what is called advanced glycation end products (AGE’s) which have a specific ability to generate ROS and increase inflammatory molecules and by increasing their expression from the genes.
Spikes in blood sugar will also activate certain membrane-bound transporters that create excessive free radicals and use up the NADPH molecules that are very important for the reduction (recovery) of our internally produced antioxidants.
The cells most affected are the endothelial cells that line our blood vessels, our heart cells, our smooth muscle cells, macrophages and neutrophils (last two are immune cells). This creates large amounts of damage in key systems that we see degrade in diabetics and adds great risk to cardiovascular disease which is a major cause of death worldwide. So how do we solve the problem?
One nice little strategy is to add activity closet your mealtime, either a 15 min walk after your meal or a 30 second + intense burst of effort just before can drastically reduce glucose spikes and improve insulin sensitivity. If your out in a restaurant then a quick trip to the bathroom to do a few squats might do the trick (numbers depend on your own fitness level of course) but in general, a little bit of HIIT style training to get you out of breath is much more effective.
This is not an excuse to go crazy and eat whatever you want but it may help you deal with a relatively large meal or the best of a bad choice when you’ve been caught out.