Insulin - Good vs. Evil: Which Side Are You On
Written by Ryan Hall
Insulin and glucagon are the primary hormones involved in the storage and release of energy within the body. Although countless tasks are performed by these two hormones, insulin’s main priority is to keep blood sugar levels from rising too high and conversely glucagon’s main function is to prevent blood sugar levels from falling too low. How about we focus on the instigator of the group, insulin.
In appropriate amounts, insulin keeps the metabolic system running smoothly with everything in balance. In excess it becomes a mischievous hormone running throughout the body, wreaking metabolic havoc and leaving a trail of destruction and disease where ever it goes. Here’s what excess insulin can cause:
Fluid retention throughout the body
Increased fat in the cells
A changing of protein & sugar into fat
Increased blood pressure
Elevated cholesterol levels
Now that we know what too much can do, how do we control it? Well, through diet of course! Controlling our blood sugar levels will control our insulin and glucagon levels. You eat foods high in carbohydrates (sugar) and the pancreas releases insulin to help decrease the jolt of blood sugar. Constant ingestion of high carbohydrate foods in turn causes a constant elevated release of this tricky little hormone. Sooner or later, the receptor sites in our cells (how the insulin gets in) become overloaded and eventually can stop recognizing the insulin, i.e. – insulin resistance. At this point the cells do not receive the insulin to control the increasing blood sugar level, but the body keeps dumping in more and more insulin to try and control it. Oh no! Look ma, excess insulin!
The solution: a diet low in those pesky carbohydrates, you know, that stuff that can cause these giant fluctuations in blood sugar. Now, not all carbohydrates are created equal. The good: fresh fruits and vegetables with low glycemic loads (lower sugar content). The bad: processed carbohydrates such as grains, pastas, rices and packaged baked goods. All of these have high sugar contents that cause blood sugar levels to skyrocket. A good rule of thumb: if it comes in a package or a box it probably isn’t good for you!