A Simple Biohack Anyone Can Use Against Diabetes

15 May 2023

The best biohacks are all personalised interventions. In fact, the very premise of biohacking is all about using quantified self tools to monitor one’s health metrics and to use it to design personalised interventions. At the entry level this can mean quantified self tools like smartwatches, pedometers and fitness tracking wristbands, based on which people can exercise more, sleep optimally etc.

And at the most advanced or most effective levels it can be detailed genetic tests and full-spectrum metabolic assessments, based on which personalized and comprehensive lifestyle modifications are suggested, which aims at a total makeover, a total transformation of the individual. Using such tools, personalized interventions can be done across diet, nutrition, supplements, exercise and more.

But once in a while, a new generic biohack comes along, that may sound too good to be true. Something that can be attempted by almost anyone and designed against a large-scale health challenge. This week in medical research, such a simple yet profound generic biohack surfaced. But before we delve into it, a word or two about the large-scale health challenge that it is most useful for.

More than half a billion people across the world have diabetes and over 90% of them have Type 2 or adult-onset diabetes, which means it is not generally seen in childhood like Type 1 or juvenile diabetes. The late onset of Type 2 diabetes sheds light on two factors – one, that it is often triggered by faulty lifestyles; and two, that replacing such faulty lifestyles with healthy ones can help prevent it.

The impact of developing full-blown Type 2 diabetes in one’s 30s, 40s, 50s or beyond, goes far beyond having any other lifestyle disease. This is because of diabetes’ peculiar ability to cause or contribute to other diseases and conditions. For instance, studies have shown that just 1% rise in blood glucose level is associated with a 40% increase in cardiovascular mortality risk in diabetic patients. Diabetes can also cause or contribute to kidney disease, eye damage, neuropathy, non-healing or slow healing wounds, and even loss of toes and feet.

Hence, anything that helps in bettering blood sugar control among those with diabetes, those with prediabetes, and those at genetic or metabolic risk for developing diabetes during their lifetime will be a huge plus for humanity as a whole. And this is what this newly discovered generic biohack achieves.

A recent study led by researchers at the State University of New York at Buffalo, found that proper mastication or chewing of food has a dramatic impact on blood sugar control. This study that was published recently in the noted medical journal PLOS ONE, found that those who have full chewing function had 20% lower blood sugar than those with partially impaired chewing function due to teeth loss or other reasons.

The study assumes significance as this dramatic improvement was after adjusting for confounding risk factors among the two groups such as body mass index (BMI), sex, smoking status, medications, or infections. Also, while this study focused on partially impaired chewing due to teeth loss, in this modern age, hurried eating without proper chewing is becoming a norm for many young and busy people.

Why is proper, time-consuming chewing so important for blood sugar control? The researchers behind this study point to several factors for this connection. Firstly, digestion, which most people think of as beginning in the stomach, really begins much earlier, as soon as the chewing begins in mouth, as it stimulates the production of saliva, a critical factor in the breakdown and preparation of food for assimilation.

Secondly, dietary fibre that is critically important to reduce blood sugar level is made available to the body only by the proper chewing of fibre rich foods. Thirdly, chewing is proven to stimulate reactions in the intestine that lead to increased insulin secretion, which is essential to keep blood glucose under check.

And finally, proper chewing stimulates the hypothalamus to induce the feeling of satiety, thereby limiting the food intake naturally, which in turn limits the blood glucose level directly, and also indirectly by preventing obesity which in itself is a major contributory risk factor for developing and worsening diabetes.

While this recent discovery of mastication’s significant effect on blood sugar control may appear as a new development, in reality, old timers across civilizations would vouch that it is really an ancient health advice. This is a fine example of ancient wellness practices translating into modern biohacks, as they are now provable and quantifiable in research studies.

In fact, in ancient wellness systems like Ayurveda, the impact of proper chewing or mastication is extolled greatly as something that is essential for gut health which in turn is the basis for overall health. Ayurveda goes even one step beyond and states that the lack of proper chewing can cause the accumulation of several poisons (‘ama’ in Sanskrit) in the gut. There is a high probability that high blood glucose is only one of such poisons, with a great chance existing for non-chewed foods causing even gut microbiome dysfunction.

The upcoming World Biohack Summit (WBHS) at Dubai on May 30 & 31 will feature biohacks across the spectrum for the first time, including modern research-based biohacks as well as biohacks from the ancient wellness systems like Ayurveda, Yoga, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and more.

WBHS Dubai, which is the first such event in MENA & Asia, will also be the first such summit to be simultaneously hosted in the metaverse. This hosting will be truly state-of-the-art with tickets being made available as NFTs, the sale for which starts on May 10. WBHS is sponsored by Limoverse and supported by the Dubai Economy & Tourism Department and the UAE Genetic Diseases Association (UAEGDA).

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