Blood Glucose Regulation
There is only one teaspoon of sugar in our entire blood supply. This is tightly regulated as increased blood sugar is regarded as dangerous to health. Too much blood sugar will lead to a diabetic coma, then death. Too little blood sugar leads to hypoglycemia, coma, then death.
Control of blood glucose is regulated by three organs — pancreas, liver and adrenals.
The pancreas secretes the hormone insulin, which is needed to take glucose to the cells for energy and to convert excess glucose in the liver to glycogen, for short term storage in the liver and muscles, and the rest to triglycerides for storage in the fat cells.
- lowers elevated blood sugar
- converts excess sugar to 24 hour storage as glycogen in liver and muscles
- converts excess sugar into triglycerides, for storage in fat cells
- increases cholesterol production
- prevents fat burning, increases fat storage
- stores glycogen for short term use
- converts protein to glucose — called gluconeogenesis
- secretes cortisol to bring up low blood sugar by
- stimulating the liver to release stored glycogen
- break down lean body mass to make glucose
There are three macronutrients — protein, fat and carbohydrates. The following chart shows how these macronutrients effect insulin.
|Carbohydrate and Fat||++++|
|Protein and Fat||++|
|High protein, low carb||++|
|High carb, low protein||+++++++++++|
Normal Sugar Reaction
- Carbohydrates or stress raise blood sugar
- this stimulates insulin from the pancreas
- Insulin levels rise, delivers glucose to the cells and converts excess to triglycerides.
- When insulin levels are elevated, the body cannot burn fat for energy, insulin triggers fat storage mode.
Abnormal Sugar Reaction
Problems happen when the body has to deal with carbohydrate load or stress many times during the day.
- Reactive Hypoglycemia:
The overstimulated pancreas dumps excess insulin into the blood because cells are becoming less responsive to insulin, insulin levels stay elevated longer, leading to a low blood sugar state — reactive hypoglycemia.
- Insulin Resistance:
Cell membrane receptors for insulin begin to shut down and not work as well.
The body's response to hypoglycemia
- irritability, anger
- can't think straight
- survival issue, low blood sugar is dangerous
- stress hormones release from adrenals
- release stored glycogen from liver
- Cortisol, a catabolic hormone, causes the breakdown of lean body mass into glucose
- Blood sugar levels normalize
Consequences of Insulin Resistance
Chronically elevated cortisol in response to stress and low blood sugar causes:
- weight gain, especially abdominal
- LDL cholesterol increases
- HDL cholesterol decreases
- DHEA decreases
- progesterone decreases
- magnesium excretion
- muscle wasting
- bone loss
Chronically elevated insulin (insulin resistance) leads to:
- systemic inflammation
- dysregulation of sex hormones
- excess sympathetic stimulation as well as increased risk of diabetes
- cardiovascular disease
- immune system dysregulation
- anxiety and depression
There is only one cause of Insulin Resistance — SUGAR and sugar alone
Fructose is the most metabolically damaging sugar and creates insulin resistance more than any other sugar. Fructose does not initially raise blood sugar, it first goes to the liver. Fructose causes ten times more glycation damage than glucose. Glycation is one of the main ways that increase tissue damage and aging of bodily cells. Cane sugar is 50% fructose, high fructose corn syrup is 55% fructose. Agave nectar is 55-95% fructose.
Glycation and Collagen
Glycation damage done to collagen can:
- effect the vascular system, causing inflammation and plaque build-up in the arteries
- renal capillaries – (hypertension, kidney failure)
- skin (wrinkles)
- joints (degenerative arthritis)
- the eyes (retinopathy, cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration)
How fructose affects blood chemistry:
- elevates triglycerides – more significant than cholesterol
- fructose converts to fat more than any other sugar
- elevates cholesterol
- elevates uric acid (gout)
- elevates BUN – blood urea nitrogen – leads to kidney damage
- increases insulin resistance – more than any other sugar
- decreases glucose tolerance
- connective tissue defects
- leptin resistance — leptin is the satiety hormone — we don't receive the “had enough to eat” signal
- heart arrhythmias and heart attacks
Vastly reducing sugar and starch intake, or better yet, eliminating all sugars and grains, can have significant benefits on physical and mental health.