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Almost every single cell in your body regulates its biological processes over a 24-hour period. You know it as your biological clock.
To keep your body running optimally, your clock cycles different genes on and off throughout the day and night. You know this as your circadian rhythm.
And it all has to work like clockwork to stay at your best, especially when it comes to your blood sugar.
That’s why shift work (staying up all night to work and sleeping during the day) has not only been shown to cause a breakdown in your biological clock but it’s also been proven to increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.
However, it’s been unclear how exactly the biological clock of people with type 2 diabetes differs from healthy people, until now…
Type 2 diabetes and a broken clock
Mitochondria are one of the most vital elements of the human body. These “powerhouses” function as batteries for our cells, keeping them youthful and running strong.
Mitochondria take in both nutrients and oxygen and convert that into energy to keep the complex engine of your body fueled. But that’s not all they do…
An international research team led by the University of Copenhagen found that mitochondria communicate with the molecules that keep time in our cells — and that this communication is disrupted in people with type 2 diabetes.
The researchers saw that muscle cells in patients with type 2 diabetes have a disrupted biological clock with fewer and sometimes different cycling genes — the ones that control the cells’ circadian rhythm.
That’s a problem because some of the most widely used pharmacological treatments for type 2 diabetes affect mitochondria, meaning that they may work differently depending on the time of day they are taken.
Supporting the health of your mitochondria
Now researchers have a clearer understanding of the link between mitochondria, type 2 diabetes and our biological clock. With this knowledge, they hope to fine-tune the timing of interventions to treat type 2 diabetes, to optimize their effectiveness.
“Exercise and diet are regularly used treatment interventions for people with type 2 diabetes, and both of these treatments can affect the time-keeping molecules and mitochondria,” says Dr. Brendan Gabriel from the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology at Karolinska Institutet.
Exercise encourages mitochondria to increase ATP synthesis, which supports energy production and helps mitochondria recover so they can carry out their normal functions.
It’s also possible to give mitochondria additional support. Pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) is a powerful antioxidant that’s considered a “longevity” nutrient because it lowers the risk of age-related disease by improving the function of the mitochondria.
Some research shows PQQ may do even more than improve the function of mitochondria — it may actually replenish mitochondria, which begin to dwindle in number as we age.
PQQ is a nutrient found in healthy foods like:
- Green pepper
- Fermented soybeans
However, PQQ is a quinone-class cofactor produced by bacteria for metabolizing alcohol and sugar to generate energy under certain circumstances, and plants and animals don’t use it the same way. To get enough PQQ, supplementing is really the best option. Supplements can deliver much more PQQ via powder than what can be obtained from food.
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