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Autism Coach

Glycation - the Diabetes/Alzheimer's/Autism Connection


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What is Glycation?

Glucose is the primary source of energy for cells in the body and brain. The body attempts to maintain a precise level of glucose in the blood, just enough for cells to obtain the energy they need to function but no more. Too much glucose in the bloodstream damages tissues and DNA throughout the body in a process called glycation. 

Glycation is the random bonding of glucose to proteins it meets up with. This random bonding of glucose to proteins results in cross-linking of glucose to cells and tissues in the body which reduces the efficiency with which cells and tissues can function and repair themselves,
 
Glycation is believed to be one of the primary causes of aging. When glucose cross-links with the collagen in skin, it produces wrinkles. As people age, their cells and tissues change in ways that lead to the bodys decline and death. The cells become less efficient and less able to replace damaged materials. At the same time, tissues stiffen.
 
For example, the lungs and the heart muscle expand less successfully, the blood vessels become increasingly rigid and the ligaments and tendons tighten. Older people are also more likely to develop cataracts, atherosclerosis, and cancer, among other disorders. Glucose binds to nucleic acids such as DNA, genes. Over time, the body becomes less and less efficient at maintaining and repairing the wear and tear on a cellular level due to the processes of daily life due to the attachment of glucose to cells and tissues.
 
Insulin and Glycation

Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas that signals to cells in the body to take up glucose. If there are excessive levels of glucose in the blood on a regular basis, the pancreas has to regularly secrete more insulin for the cells to take up the glucose. Over time, these cells may become resistant to taking up glucose through excessive insulin signalling. This, in turn, forces the pancreas to secrete more insulin in an attempt to reduce the level of glucose in the blood. Over-taxing the cells of the body and the pancreas often proves to be unsustainable over time. When too much glucose bathes the pancreas itself, it may result in cross-linking of glucose to beta cells that kills these cells off and reduces the ability of the pancreas to produce the insulin needed by the body, eventually leading to diabetes.

If the neurons in the brain become insulin resistant, they do not absorb enough glucose to produce the energy they need to survive, and some researchers theorize insulin resistance of neurons may lead to them slowly starving, resulting in neuronal die-off that takes place in Alzheimers and possibly other neurodegenerative conditions. 

Studies of the brain show that the tissue making up the sheath that separates the brain from the skull accumulates glycation products, too. The amount of glycation products increases directly with age, this process is accelerated in diabetes. 

The pancreas chronically producing high levels of insulin that can also signal the liver to produce cholesterol and act on the kidneys to contribute to high blood pressure.
 
MItochondrial Dysfunction, Aging, and Autism

Aging is associated with organism decay and an exponential increase in a wide range of degenerative diseases. The increase in these diseases is associated with a loss of reserve capacity of the mitochondria, the energy producing center of each cell. A strong relationship exists between aging and mitochondrial dysfunction as well as an accumulation of altered proteins. This is exactly what the glycation process does it alters the integrity of the proteins that make up our body, particularly those proteins that make up mitochondria.
 
A significant number of individuals within the autism spectrum have been diagnosed with mitochondrial dysfunction.