What Iditarod May Teach Us About Energy in Diabetics

What Iditarod May Teach Us About Energy in Diabetics: There are so many answers to complicated questions locked up in our own bodies and in things that occur naturally in the world around us. This is true with plants and it’s true with animals. Herbs, vegetables and fruit are all used to provide food along with offering a variety of vitamins, minerals and an enormous amount of potential healing properties.

Sometimes learning more about diabetes may be as simple as watching the Iditarod sled races held each year in Alaska. This race covers over 1,100 miles and many of the participants can finish the race in as few as nine days. That means the dogs used in the race must pull a sled more than 100 miles each day in very difficult circumstances (wind chill readings can be as low as –100 degrees F), yet these animals seem eager to perform the task in the harshest of weather.

Aside from any objections you might have as to the treatment of these dogs there is intriguing thought behind their willingness to ‘mush’ in the frozen tundra of Alaska.  USAToday.com recently posed a question that is on the minds of diabetes researchers, “Could their fat-burning prowess help uncover ways to prevent and treat obesity in type 2 diabetes?”

It has become apparent that these sled dogs are very efficient at converting fat to energy and resisting any hint of diabetes. Researcher Michael Davis from Oklahoma State University rode along in the 2009 Iditarod to continue his personal research in physiology of sled dogs.



USAToday.com reported, “In January, Davis and collaborators Ray Geor of Michigan State University and Shannon Pratt of North Carolina State University chose 16 dogs in Iditarod-worthy shape from the kennel of one of this year’s competitors and had them run 22 miles at a healthy clip of 8 mph.”

Their research calculated metabolic stress by examining muscle tissue samples of those animals. This was done during times when the animals were worthy of running in the race and during summer months when they were not engaged in strenuous activity. The USAToday report indicated, “Davis hopes to understand how the cells are reacting under different physical conditions.”

Oklahoma State University provides the following background information on Davis. It helps explain his interest in this subject, “Dr. Davis has been a licensed veterinarian for over 20 years, and a board certified specialist in veterinary internal medicine since 1999. Dr. Davis has received over $4 million in research funding to study the effects of exercise stress in animal models, particularly racing sled dogs. This work has resulted in detailed metabolic studies of the occult effects of stress, including mechanistic descriptions of the effects of occult stress on various organ systems.” It then appears his research has naturally progressed to diabetes, a causal agent in the deterioration of multiple organs.

While animal rights activists have been opposed to the research Davis is doing he indicates the DNA between dogs and humans are a close match. There may be more to learn from these dogs than critics might expect. For instance these animals have proven to be insulin sensitive, which allows their bodies to be extremely adept at energy creation.

No one would argue that intense exercise has been very instrumental in the prevention and management of diabetes, however the research Davis is looking at may provide additional answers as to how the transformation of fat to energy can be accelerated in diabetic patients.