High blood sugar dampens the circadian clock

High blood sugar causes a variety of problems in the human body. It damages blood vessel walls, increases plaque accumulation, damages the kidneys, and damages nerves throughout the body. Oh yeah, it also causes leaky gut.

Now, researchers at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University identified another problem with high blood sugar: It dampens the circadian clock.

This should come as no surprise to readers of this blog. I’ve mentioned it about a thousand times in multiple blogs. But this study points to hyperglycemia-induced clock disruption as a cause of cardiovascular disease. And it appears that this disruption occurs everywhere:

“They still are not certain which clock(s) are most central to this problem. Everywhere they have looked — heart, kidney, liver, blood vessels and endothelial cells — they have seen these rundown clocks.”

But why does hyperglycemia disrupt the clock?

High blood sugar
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How high blood sugar disrupts the circadian clocks

Circadian rhythms help separate processes that run counter to one another. For example, use and repair are separated from one another because they aren’t compatible with happening at the same time. Thus, the cell senses when “use” occurs and puts repair at another time.

At the organ and cellular level, insulin acts as the signal the you are in “use” mode. At the cellular level, the NAD+/sirtuin/NAMPT axis is important. I covered this in detail in a blog you can find here and a podcast you can find here.

Chronically high blood sugar is problematic in 2 ways. First, it almost always indicates that insulin is chronically high too. This prevents insulin from signaling the active period with high fidelity. High insulin indicates the active period, and low indicates rest. But if it never drops low, then how can your organs and cells tell the time?

At the cellular level, hyperglycemia alters the NAD+/NADH ratio. Cells use this ratio to identify the active period. Therefore, you get the same problem as above. Essentially, you have a clock that can’t tell time.

Conclusion

High blood sugar is one of the biggest health problems of the 21st century. The combination of a sedentary lifestyle with high calorie and low quality diets is a big driver of chronic disease.

This study shows how prolonged chronic hyperglcemia/Type 2 diabetes affect the circadian clocks. Metabolism essentially function as feedback to the clock to help fine tune timing. Thus, add circadian disruption as a negative health effect of Type 2 diabetes.

This study underscores a point I continue to make. You have to fix your metabolism to heal chronic disease, including those affecting the gut. Without it, you can’t harness the power of circadian rhythms to promote healing. Just blocking blue light at night is nowhere near enough.

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