A special non-stick layer, known as the glycocalyx, prevents things from sticking to the sides of blood vessels. When it’s not there, atherosclerosis happens.
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It is sugar that is behind cardiovascular disease, not cholesterol
As we age, we begin to worry more and more about the possibility of suffering a heart attack or stroke. High blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and diabetes are all signs you’re at risk.
Which part of your body do you blame for this ?
- Do you blame your fat cells ? You’re not sure what they do, but, you know having too many fat cells, is BAD.
- Maybe you’re a diabetic, then odds are you blame your pancreas, for not producing enough insulin to take care of you.
- If you’ve got heart problems – obviously, your heart is to blame etc.
The organ that is “broken” must be responsible.
And to improve the situation, the organ giving trouble, must be “fixed”.
Well, this is the traditional approach….
- In the case of fat cells, fixing requires depletion and/or removal.
- In the case of the pancreas, providing extra insulin directly or indirectly, is the “fix”
- In the case of the heart, adjusting it’s pumping schedule, so if pumps better, is the goal of therapy.
The trouble with this approach, is that you’re paying attention to part of the body that is squeaking the loudest.
But, you’re not actually addressing the cause of the squeak.
So what is the cause of the squeak ?
The key is in the name……….cardiovascular disease.
VASCULAR disease – it is a disease of the blood vessels.
The unheard shriek
Is coming from your blood vessels. Unfortunately, as a body part, blood vessels are not easy to see. They’re “tiny”, a layer or two of cells, surrounding a hole.
And at the end of the day, it’s the hole that matters….
As long as the hole is open, everything is okay.
The inside is the hole…
The outside is an organ.
To give you some idea of the size of this “invisible” organ. You have approx. 100 000 kilometers of piping, swirling around 5 litres of blood around your body, every minute.
Moving all the blood around is HARD work.
Especially if the blood has lots and lots of glucose.
The reason, the glucose scrapes off, part of the protective coating. This is what a team of researchers based at The City College of The City University of New York discovered.
Blood vessels non-stick lining
Whenever you see a picture of a cell, the cell membrane is drawn as a smooth line, but if you zoom in, the membrane is quite a bumpy surface. But, for the cells lining the blood vessels, these tools of the trade are risky. The tiny protrusions offer opportunities for “things” to get stuck, impeding blood flow.
High volumes of blood, need to swoosh past…….seamlessly.
So, to ensure that nothing sticks, the cells smear on a very thin, slime layer, known as the glycocalyx.
Water off a ducks back
This very thin layer works like a charm………..the cell laden, blood just slides past, nothing sticks.
Allowing the endothelial cells to do their job.
Which includes nutrient and waste delivery, in response to demand. The endothelial cells are the body’s movers – they move the chemicals between the blood and the tissues. To do this, they carefully control, blood flow, through the process of vasodilation and vasoconstriction.
Deliveries are made……….
The New York team, found high glucose levels or hyperglycemia, pulls off the non-stick layer, specifically the heparin sulphate component.
With the non-stick layer gone, the endothelial cells find things in the blood, start sticking.
Creating a crisis…….
The sticking crisis leads to inflammation, which brings macrophages to the scene, to clean up.
In the process of cleaning up, things turn nasty.
Plaque builds up.
This leads to atherosclerosis – culminating in cardiovascular disease.
Bad blood and atherosclerosis
It all begins with high sugar levels.
And high sugar levels happen, every time you consume lots of sugar all in one go. Every time.
Whether you’re healthy or diabetic.
How long they stay high, varies. In the insulin resistant and diabetic, the sugar is not cleared promptly, so levels rise higher and remain elevated, for longer – causing more damage to the glycocalyx.
Avoid sticky situations
To avoid cardiovascular disease – you need to preserve the structural integrity of your glycocalyx.
One way to do this, is to avoid sugar spikes.
This means cutting back on those sugar-laden beverages and highly processed carbohydrate snacks and obeying the rule of thirds, at every meal.
For more ideas and strategies to keep your sugar levels down, visit the “Suppressing Sugar Spikes” library page.
What if cholesterol build up is a red herring ? What if, high blood pressure is due to someone, not something, putting the squeeze on your blood vessels.
Bone cells are popping up inside damaged blood vessels, as vascular stem cells infiltrate to repair the damage, their presence is stiffening things up.
Cardiovascular disease is about heart problems and diabetes is about sugar problems and the pancreas – right. Wrong, faulty blood vessels are the real problem.
Interested in learning more about the chemistry behind metabolic syndrome ?
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