Prof Jennie Brand-Miller answers your questions.
When I give talks, I am regularly asked if chronic disease such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, stroke and arthritis an inevitable part of aging.
It is good to be able to tell people that it’s not inevitable at all. It is possible to reduce your risk of the chronic diseases associated with growing older by making some lifestyle changes. This is because we now know that the basis for accelerated aging and disease is low grade systemic inflammation. Throughout our history, inflammation has been both our saviour and executioner. As saviour, it plays a central role in our immune system by killing bacteria and invading pathogens, thereby protecting us. However, when this inflammation process is chronic, our body turns on itself, attacks its own blood vessels, nerves and organs causing accelerated aging and precipitating disease. Chronic inflammation also plays a part as an underlying cause of excess body fat, and could explain why some people just can’t lose weight.
What causes low-grade systemic inflammation? It is the result of oxidative stress in the cells and is caused by a number of lifestyle factors including being overweight, having high blood glucose (having too much glucose makes the cells see ‘red’), high cholesterol or high blood pressure. Our lifestyle (diet, sedentariness, lack of exercise, lack of sleep, stress etc.) has become our mortal adversary.
What we can do about it. Decreasing inflammation in the body today is the most prudent measure to resisting tomorrow’s ailments. It is well known, that weight loss will reduce inflammation and thus the risk of developing such diseases. A randomised controlled trial from the Diogenes study published in Circulation also indicates that eating a low GI diet, with or without a change in weight, is good for your overall health and will help prevent the diseases that are linked to inflammation (obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, arthritis).
GI testing by an accredited laboratory
Dr Alexandra Jenkins
Glycemic Index Laboratories
20 Victoria Street, Suite 300
Toronto, Ontario M5C 298 Canada
Phone +1 416 861 0506
Research Manager, Sydney University Glycemic Index Research Service (SUGiRS)
Human Nutrition Unit, School of Molecular and Microbial Biosciences
NSW 2006 Australia
Phone + 61 2 9351 6018
Fax: + 61 2 9351 6022