Blood Sugar and Insulin:
Information about Blood Sugar and Insulin
Dr. Ben Kim
You have approximately 5 litres of blood traveling around in your blood vessels
and heart at any given moment. In these 5 litres of blood, you need only about
one teaspoon of sugar for all of your regular activities. If you have more than
a teaspoon of sugar floating through your blood vessels on a regular basis, the
excess sugar will slow down your circulation and cause all of the problems you
could expect to have if you had thick maple syrup clogging up your blood vessels.
This is essentially what happens when a person becomes diabetic.
order to keep the amount of sugar floating through your blood vessels at around
a teaspoon, your body releases insulin whenever you eat foods that result in sugar
entering your blood stream. Most carbohydrates fit this category. Sugar, most
sweeteners, grains, cookies, pastries, cakes, pasta, and starchy vegetables like
potatoes all lead to a release of sugar into your blood stream. Insulin works
by stimulating your cells to sponge up this excess sugar out of your blood stream.
Once inside your cells, sugar is used for energy, with any excess amount being
converted to fat tissue.
If you eat sugary foods and too many processed
carbohydrates for long enough, your body will have released so much insulin that
it will begin to lose its sensitivity to insulin, which means that your cells
won’t receive as strong a signal to sponge up excess sugar out of your blood.
This will lead to excess sugar floating around your blood vessels and all the
health problems that come with this scenario.
Although many doctors
consider 110 - 120 mg/dL (6.1 - 6.7 mmol/L) as the upper range for a normal fasting
blood sugar level, I am convinced that a healthy fasting blood sugar level should
be in the range of 70 - 90 mg/dL (3.9 - 5 mmol/L).
You can get your
fasting blood sugar/glucose test done at your doctor’s office, or with a home
monitor, performed after at least six hours of fasting. The difference is that
laboratories measure the sugar in a component of your blood called plasma, while
home monitors measure the sugar in whole blood. It is believed that home monitors
that measure sugar in whole blood give readings that can be around 15 percent
less than plasma readings from laboratories. Some home monitors are calibrated
to give plasma-equivalent readings. Regardless of what kind of home monitor you
might use, it is handy to have an objective way to ensure that your food choices
are keeping your fasting blood sugar level close to or in a healthy range.
If you have too much sugar floating around in your blood
vessels, it is likely that you also have too much insulin traveling through your
system as well. Even if your fasting blood sugar level is in a healthy range,
it is possible that you have too much insulin floating through your vessels, particularly
if you have high triglycerides and/or are overweight. Normal blood sugar and high
blood insulin can be the result of your cells losing some sensitivity to insulin,
which necessitates that your body releases extra insulin into your blood circulation
in an attempt to stimulate your desensitized cells into sponging up excess sugar
out of your blood circulation.
What's the problem with having too much
insulin in your circulation?
Excess insulin is known to cause:
can test your insulin level by asking your doctor or laboratory for a fasting
insulin test. Less than 10 IU/mL is deal. Anything over 10 IU/mL indicates that
you are eating too many foods that are stimulating excess insulin release from
your pancreas, paving the way to all of the negative health effects listed above.
gain, since insulin promotes the storage of fat
cellular levels of magnesium, a mineral that is essential for keeping your blood
vessels relaxed and your blood circulation efficient
increase in sodium retention, which leads to holding excess water in your system,
which causes high blood pressure
amounts of inflammatory compounds in your blood, which can cause direct physical
damage to your blood vessel walls and encourage the development of blood clots
which can lead to heart attacks and respiratory failure
reduction in HDL cholesterol, an increase in undesirable small molecules of LDL
cholesterol, and an increase in triglycerides, all of which increase your risk
for heart disease
a higher risk for cancer due to insulin's ability to contribute to cell proliferation
What can you do with your food and lifestyle choices to support healthy
blood sugar and insulin levels?
non-starchy vegetables the foundation of your diet. Dark green leafy lettuce,
tomatoes, celery, cucumber, cabbage, kale, Swiss chard, bok choy, zucchini, broccoli,
cauliflower, and all unmentioned green vegetables are excellent choices.
or eliminate your intake of sugar and all foods that contain sugar. Some of the
most concentrated sources of sugar are soda, cookies, chocolate bars, donuts,
pastries, ice cream, and ketchup.
or eliminate your use of sweeteners like molasses, corn syrup, high fructose corn
syrup, pasteurized/heated honey, and maple syrup.
drink fruit juices. Even freshly squeezed fruit juice taken over the long term
can lead to high blood sugar and insulin levels. If you want to taste fruit, eat
whole fruit, not the juice. The fibre, vitamins, and minerals that come with whole fruit help
to slow down the pace at which the natural sugars from fruit enter your blood
activities and exercises that build or maintain your muscles. Muscle tissue acts
as a storage site for extra sugar. The more muscle tissue you have, the better
you can regulate your blood sugar and insulin levels.
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