New Key to Aging Well: Increase Mitochondria Efficiency
Posted Aug 26 2008 4:03pm
Why does risk for heart attacks, strokes or diabetes increase with age? A team from Yale University showed that as you age, you lose your ability to make AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK). This enzyme functions to increase mitochondria in muscles. Anything that reduces the number or efficiency of mitochondria interferes with your body's ability to burn fat and sugar for energy. As a result, blood sugar, fat and cholesterol levels rise.
Most cells in your body contain many mitochondria, small furnaces that burn food for energy. With aging, the number and the efficiency of mitochondria both decrease. This interferes with your body's ability to turn food into energy. The extra calories that are not burned accumulate in your body as fat in your muscles, liver and fat cells. This causes you to gain weight. Extra fat in cells block their ability to take in sugar from the blood stream, so blood sugar levels rise and you are at increased risk for developing diabetes. Extra fat in the liver prevent the liver from removing extra insulin, so insulin levels rise to constrict arteries and cause heart attacks. Insulin also makes you hungry all the time to increase your chances of gaining weight.
AMPK is increased by exercise and by drugs used to treat diabetes, such as metformin, Actos or Avandia. The best way to increase the number and size of mitochondria in your cells is to exercise. If you do not have a regular exercise program, you are shortening your life. Journal reference ; more