By Kathleen Berger, Executive Producer for Science and Technology
Consistently sitting for long periods of time at a computer, watching television or just laying around the house can be detrimental to your health when you combine this sedentary lifestyle with a sugary diet. A new study at the University of Missouri School of Medicine shows just how bad that can be for your health.
“In the long term, that can have a negative impact of cardiovascular health. It can promote hypertension, arteriosclerosis. So those are things that on the long term can have a cardiovascular toll,” said Camila Manrique-Acevedo, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine at MU School of Medicine.
The study is the first to show how a sedentary lifestyle combined with a sugary diet is even worse for men than for women. The study is also the first to show evidence of short-term lifestyle changes disrupting the response of insulin, leading to vascular insulin resistance.
“The main goal of this study was to assess the response of insulin in the blood vessels,” said Manrique-Acevedo. “We saw that men were more impacted.”
The research is done through the Roy Blunt NextGen Precision Health building at Mizzou, which anchors the statewide initiative to unite government and industry in pursuit of life-changing precision health advancements.
For the study, researchers examined vascular insulin resistance in 36 young and healthy men and women by exposing them to 10 days of reduced physical activity, cutting their step count from 10,000 to 5,000 steps per day. The participants also increased their sugary beverage intake to six cans of soda per day.
“We were mimicking what we call a Western lifestyle, meaning physical inactivity, or sedentary lifestyle, and a lot of refined sugar that is unfortunately common in our diets and in our lifestyle,” she explained. “What we saw after the 10 days is that there was less insulin mediated dilation. So, the blood vessels were dilated less. Insulin usually dilates the blood vessels, and in the long term we believe that those beneficial effects can prevent cardiovascular disease.”
Vascular insulin resistance is a feature of obesity and type 2 diabetes that contributes to vascular disease.
This is the first study to show men and women react differently to the lifestyle changes. The results showed that only in men did the sedentary lifestyle and high sugar intake cause decreased insulin-stimulated leg blood flow and a drop in a protein called adropin, which regulates insulin sensitivity and is an important biomarker for cardiovascular disease.
“We think that women were protected because of the estrogen effects. Premenopausal women are known to have better vascular responses,” Manrique-Acevedo explained.
The research is considered a good example of precision medicine.
“Knowing what is different from vascular disease in men versus vascular disease in women can help us develop new interventions that are tailored to different patients,” she explained.
Manrique-Acevedo said she would next like to examine how long it takes to reverse these vascular and metabolic changes and more fully assess the impact of the role of sex in the development of vascular insulin resistance.