If You Avoid Eating Glucose You May Actually Live Longer
Glucose, a type of sugar that your body uses for energy, may be the key to living a long life — if you avoid it, that is.
Researchers from the University of Jena in Germany discovered some very interesting findings about this simple sugar by observing the lifespan of worms.
Cookies, candy, sugary breakfast cereals, sweetened fruit juice and doughnuts are all examples of foods that are quickly broken down into glucose by your body.
First they blocked the worms’ ability to process glucose, which put them into a metabolic state similar to one you would have if you avoided glucose in your diet.
Without glucose, something fascinating happened: the worms increased their lifespan by up to 20 percent, which is the equivalent of 15 years of human life.
In the United States, however, the average person eats a hefty amount of sugar, which when broken down generates glucose. In fact, sugar makes up anywhere from 15 percent to 20 percent of most people’s daily diets!
It’s already well-known that too much glucose in your body is a bad thing.
Under normal circumstances, every time you eat your blood glucose levels will rise slightly. This signals your pancreas to release insulin, which makes sure your blood sugar levels do not get too high.
However, if your blood glucose levels remain elevated for too long, it can lead to diabetes and damage to your kidneys, eyes, nerves and blood vessels.
Is Glucose Good for Anything?
Yes, glucose is what provides your body with energy that literally feeds your muscles and cells. It’s also used by your brain and is beneficial for learning and memory.
In fact, one study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that learning tasks depletes your brain of its glucose reserves. The harder the task, the more glucose your brain requires.
Interestingly, the researchers found that elderly people who drank a sweetened lemonade drink prior to taking tests of short-term memory, attention and motor function recalled twice as much of a narrative prose passage than those who drank lemonade without glucose.
However, there is a catch.
While a little bit of glucose seems to enhance your cognitive functions, too much of it actually impairs it.
High-Glucose Foods to Avoid, and Lower Glucose Foods to Enjoy
To avoid all glucose would be a tall task, since all foods that contain carbohydrates break down into glucose. Those that break down the quickest, however, are the ones that will produce a sharp rise in your blood glucose levels, followed by a sharp fall that will make you feel sluggish.
You may then reach for another high-glucose food to keep your energy up, only to find that you have another, corresponding crash.
Meanwhile, the more “fast-acting” carbohydrates that you eat, the worse it is for your body.
You can enjoy leafy green vegetables every day without having to worry about them raising your glucose levels.
“We are not adapted to handle fast-acting carbohydrates,” said associate professor of pediatrics at Harvard David Ludwig. “Glucose is the gold standard of energy metabolism. The brain is exquisitely dependent on having a continuous supply of glucose: too low a glucose level poses an immediate threat to survival. [But] too high a level causes damage to tissues, as with diabetes.”
Ideally, you should strive to keep your blood sugar levels at a consistent level throughout the day, as this will leave you with a steady stream of energy, rather than peaks and low points.
Which foods are high-glucose foods (also called high-glycemic index foods) that will break down quickly in your body?
- Soft drinks
- Sweetened fruit juice
In short, high-glucose foods to avoid include those made with refined white flour or white sugar and not a whole lot else (although even potatoes fall into this category).
Meanwhile, the following foods are low-glucose (or low-glycemic index) foods that will give you a steady source of energy for the day:
- Nuts and seeds
- Celery root
- Leafy green vegetables
You can also indulge in foods high in protein and fiber, and those that contain healthy fats, as these foods will not cause your blood glucose to rise excessively.