Uric Acid, Blood Sugar, and Body Fat
AMPK is an enzyme of central importance in human metabolism. Yes, this post is a bit steeped in science, nonetheless, the information is really important as you soon will see.
AMPK plays such an important role in regulating human metabolism that it has been called metabolism’s “guardian.” It basically serves to inform our metabolism as to the energy status of our bodies, allowing changes to occur when energy (food) is abundant or when we are in a state of calorie scarcity. As such, AMPK lets the body know whether it should be producing glucose and storing fat or focus on using fat for energy while not adding glucose when it is already abundant. AMPK, in this role, helps dictate whether we are in a state of autophagy whereby we are activating processes to break down cellular components that are defective and can be recycled, or building tissue.
Understanding how AMPK functions has provided researchers the opportunity to target this enzyme for treating, for example, type 2 diabetes. Obviously, in type 2 diabetes we wouldn’t want to turn on the production of glucose, a process called gluconeogenesis. And activating AMPK helps reduce this activity. This is exactly the mechanism whereby the diabetes drug metformin is able to help control blood sugar. Stimulating AMPK basically tells the body that food is plentiful so there’s no need to make sugar. And because there is an abundance of food, the body doesn’t need to store fat. Instead, fat is oxidized for fuel—a true example of fat burning.
Context is everything. And there is a context in which we would want to shut down AMPK and increase the production of glucose. That is essentially what happens to our bodies when we are in starvation mode—when we aren’t finding food and need to power our brains to help us through this time of food scarcity. What I am describing is how shutting down AMPK was a terrific survival mechanism for our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Creating glucose to power the brain while at the same time slowing down how the body burns fat, and thus conserving energy, allowed our ancestors the ability to make it through the tough times when food was scarce.
In the context of our world, where for many food is abundant, we need to keep AMPK active. This helps with keeping glucose under control and tells our bodies that there is no need to keep packing on the fat. And one of the best and most direct things we can do to activate AMPK is really straightforward. All it takes is exercise. Exercise, like metformin, is a potent AMPK activator that helps control blood glucose while stimulating fat oxidation.
On the other hand, it’s now been revealed that a central mechanism that actually reduces the activity of AMPK, paving the way for fat retention and elevated glucose is uric acid.
Uric acid, the end product of fructose metabolism, has been described as a “danger signal” that alerts the body to get ready for winter, a time when food will be scarce. And it does so by shutting down AMPK. This would have been really handy back in the day, but frankly these days, the winter of food scarcity never really comes. But we pack on the fat nevertheless and watch as blood sugar rises and rates of diabetes reach epidemic proportions.
So the actionable point here is to get to know your uric acid level, and keep it below 5.5 mg/dl. It’s a lab test any healthcare provider can perform and it can even be checked at home using a monitor much like those people use to check their blood sugar. Strategies that you will learn in Drop Acid that can help bring uric acid under control include reducing fructose, alcohol, and purine consumption as well as several supplements including quercetin and vitamin C.