Why Living In Wyoming’s Higher Altitudes Is Good For Your Health
Most of Wyoming is considered "high altitude" compared to the rest of the nation.
It turns out, being 4000 feet or more above sea level has health advantages.
A new study that people who live at an elevation of more than 4,500 or higher have lower rates of metabolic diseases such as diabetes and coronary heart disease.
The higher the better. Get way up into Wyoming's mountains and life expectancy increases.
Exercise must play into this. Daily treks plus ranching, farming, or even just being an active outdoor enthusiast are important.
Researchers say low oxygen levels from living at higher elevations affect health and help metabolic diseases.
“When an organism is exposed to chronically low levels of oxygen, we found that different organs reshuffle their fuel sources and their energy-producing pathways in various ways,” says study senior author Isha Jain, PhD, a Gladstone assistant investigator, in a statement. “We hope these findings will help us identify metabolic switches that might be beneficial for metabolism even outside of low-oxygen environments.” (Journal Cell Metabolism).
At sea level, oxygen makes up 21 percent of the air.
So is less oxygen actually good for you?
“We wanted to profile the metabolic changes that take place as an organism adapts to hypoxia,” says Ayush Midha, a graduate student in Jain’s lab and lead author of the study. “We thought this might provide some insight into how that adaptation protects against metabolic disease.”
When mice were tested it showed that they adjusted to the higher altitudes. Even as high as Wyoming's highest mountain planes, or as high as the Himalayas.
The higher the better.
People who live at the highest altitudes on Earth tend to live very long lives.
In these animal experiments, they found that the bodily changes did not revert back to normal levels after bringing them back down.
The body needs tons of oxygen to metabolize fatty acids (the building blocks of fats) and amino acids (the building blocks of protein). Less oxygen is necessary to metabolize sugar. This is good news for diabetics.
“We already see athletes going to train at altitude to improve their athletic performance; maybe in the future, we’ll start recommending that people spend time at high altitude for other health reasons,” said Midha.
This is not a cure-all.
The research, if true, would show that living at altitudes common in Wyoming is helpful, at best.