Stop banging on the door. Use your key!
Everybody wants to be healthy. Or maybe we just don’t want to be sick. Isn’t that the same? So the question is, how do we get that to happen? The answer is to use your key.
“Get serious,” my editor said. “You have to stop revising the manuscript or the book will never hit the street.” Part of my problem was a perpetual search for the perfect word; it’s an affliction I have. But the bigger issue is that I always want to do just a little more research. Just in case. On one side of my brain I was sure that I was on the mark. On the other side I feared I might have missed something important.
Now, a year and a half later, I still think there are better words but I also know that my information is accurate and crucial to the health of my readers. The essential truths are still the same (I know the key) but, of course, I just keep checking (and rechecking). What I have encountered during that time period is a steady stream of confirming research with details that were not available or I did not find earlier.
One of those areas of additional research has to do with the implications of insulin in your health. This earlier blog post on heart disease showed how cardiovascular damage and insulin levels are linked so incredibly.
Let me show you the highlights of how this works. Then I can tell you how to stop banging on the door of good health and, instead, just use your key.
Your body produces many hormones which work together in complicated ways to keep you operational. One of those hormones is insulin. Insulin causes things to happen and prevents things from happening based on what the body needs at the time. When insulin is messed up, the whole body (including the other hormones) gets messed up too.
When You Eat
When you eat sugar from carbohydrates (plants) your pancreas recognizes the presence of glucose and releases insulin to counteract the glucose. In other words, to move the glucose into the body cells for energy and restore normal blood sugar levels in your blood. Normal is a very small amount (say, a teaspoon) of glucose and is very important.
The more grams of carbohydrate (especially certain carbohydrates) in your diet, the more insulin required to handle them. So your pancreas is under a lot of pressure.
High Insulin Damage
Ongoing high levels of insulin in your blood will damage your vascular system (blood stream). and all the organs connected to your blood stream. And everything in your body is connected to your blood stream.
Insulin resistance has now begun. At every connection point in your blood stream (this would be a few zillion) resistance to that excess insulin will develop. As I said once (or maybe twice) before, the body abhors an excess of anything and has mechanisms for handling the excess.
Note: Logically Insulin resistance cannot develop in the absence of insulin. This is why type 1 diabetics (whose bodies don’t make insulin) are not insulin resistant until they “cover” their bad diets with lots of insulin in the form of shots.
More resistance to insulin builds, blood sugar levels rise, and insulin levels increase in an attempt to reduce the blood sugar. In the case of type 1 diabetics this means more and more insulin in shots.
High Blood Sugar
Beyond the unfortunate impact of excess insulin, higher blood sugar itself will damage the protein in your body. Everything in your body including your organs, blood vessel walls, and nerves is made of protein. This little detail increases damage to eyes, kidneys, nervous system, and cardiovascular system. Double whammy!
Reduced Insulin Production
At some point (and this point varies by person) damage to your pancreas as a result of high insulin and high blood sugar levels reduces insulin production. Then blood sugar levels rise even higher and diabetes will be diagnosed. By now you are sick with more than diabetes but you may not know it. .
More Fat Production
All that excess blood sugar has to go somewhere or you would die pretty quickly. So your liver converts it to triglycerides (fat). The poor liver is the organ of last resort in dealing with excess anything. Fat conversion by the liver is normal but now we are talking excess; fat production goes way up. This production is reflected in too much body fat, the most detrimental of which is abnormal fat in and around organs like the liver, pancreas, kidneys, etc. This abnormal fat further causes “dysregulation” (scientists love this word) and prevent the organs from working correctly.
Consider this the triple whammy. Too much insulin, too much sugar, too much bad fat.
At this point, cholesterol tests show high triglycerides (sometimes really high) and low HDL cholesterol. Chapter 10 in the book provides a complete and understandable description of cholesterol and triglycerides. When your triglycerides and HDL cholesterol are abnormal, you can bet that your insulin resistance is high even when your blood sugar seems to be OK. You are on the path.
So in summary the path to illness is:
- too much dietary carbohydrate
- more insulin
- insulin resistance
- higher blood sugar
- excess fat production in the liver
- reduced insulin production
- still higher blood sugar
- metabolic syndrome (insulin resistance, high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, fatty liver) reflective of cardiovascular risk.
Stop Banging on the Door. Use your key!
My most recent diabetes statistical research shows that 75% of Americans are now either diabetic or pre-diabetic. Perhaps you can now see that once you get on the path to diabetes, you will arrive there eventually if something doesn’t change. And by the time the train reaches the diabetes station much damage will already have been done. In other words, diabetes is a symptom, not a stand alone condition.
We are inclined to blame our ill health on our genetics. But in the vast majority of cases we have enabled our troubled genetics with our lifestyle, usually our food choices.
Stop hoping, wishing, praying that you will be an exception. No point in banging on that door. Your key is in #1 above. You can avoid this unfortunate outcome if you get a handle on your diet. In other words, It’s All About the Food. ,Available on Amazon.
Pat Smith is the author of “It’s All about the Food,” a book that guides nutritious food choices as the way to avoid illness and maintain a healthy weight. Proceeds from her book benefit the Montgomery County Food Pantry. She is a resident of Montgomery County, AR, president of Ouachita Village, Inc. board of directors (Montgomery County Food Pantry), and member of the Mount Ida Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors.