COLUMBIA, Mo. — Man or woman, it’s always a good idea to eat healthy and exercise at least once or twice per week. However, researchers from the University of Missouri-Columbia suggest that a sedentary lifestyle and sugary diet can extract a heavier toll on men in comparison to women.
The research team has collected the first ever evidence indicating short-term lifestyle changes can disrupt the response to insulin of blood vessels, and that the male and female body appears to react differently to those changes.
Vascular insulin resistance has a link to both obesity and Type 2 diabetes and contributes to vascular disease as well. Study authors analyzed vascular insulin resistance among 26 young, healthy men and women by instructing them to cut back on their usual levels of daily physical activity for a period of 10 days. More specifically, participants reduced their daily step count from 10,000 to 5,000 steps per day during the experimental period. The group also had to drink six cans of soda per day.
“We know that incidence of insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease is lower in premenopausal women compared to men, but we wanted to see how men and women reacted to reduced physical activity and increased sugar in their diet over a short period of time,” says Camila Manrique-Acevedo, MD, an associate professor of medicine, in a media release.
Sugary diets lead to a decrease in key protein
Surprisingly, the results show that only men experienced decreased insulin-stimulated leg blood flow and a decline in a protein called adropin after adopting a lazier and sugary lifestyle. Adropin regulates insulin sensitivity and scientists consider it an essential biomarker of cardiovascular disease.
“These findings underscore a sex-related difference in the development of vascular insulin resistance induced by adopting a lifestyle high in sugar and low on exercise,” Dr. Manrique-Acevedo concludes. “To our knowledge, this is the first evidence in humans that vascular insulin resistance can be provoked by short-term adverse lifestyle changes, and it’s the first documentation of sex-related differences in the development of vascular insulin resistance in association with changes in adropin levels.”
Moving forward, Dr. Manrique-Acevedo would like to conduct more research focusing on exactly how long it takes to reverse the unhealthy vascular and metabolic changes brought on by lifestyle choices. A more all-encompassing assessment is also necessary to analyze the greater impact of gender in the development of vascular insulin resistance.
The findings appear in the journal Endocrinology.