When introducing metabolic syndrome at length in a previous post, I compared all of the symptoms such as diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol to the tips of the iceberg.
Today we will discuss the iceberg itself. What is the iceberg? What is the underlying cause of all these symptoms?
The following explanation will be a little technical but it is crucial for everyone at risk to understand it. Please read it twice if you don’t understand it well enough after reading it for the first time.
It isn’t a question and all researchers agree that the root of all problems associated with metabolic syndrome is too much insulin in the bloodstream.
If you search insulin and its relationship to diseases, you’ll find thousands of articles. It is a fact that too much insulin is the cause for very many diseases which have been categorized as either syndrome x, hyperinsulinemia, insulin resistance syndrome, disease of civilization or metabolic syndrome.
Many books have been written about the relationship of too much insulin to diseased but few address how to repair and heal the damage it has done. On the contrary, a lot is done to worsen the problem under the wrong impression that it’s being repaired.
The diseases that are strongly associated with too much insulin are abnormal cholesterol levels, high triglycerides, high blood pressure, blood clots, intestinal cancer, type II diabetes, gout, sleep apnea, obesity, acid reflux, heartburn, polycystic ovarian syndrome, high testosterone in women, low testosterone in men and more.
It may seem interesting that too much insulin could actually cause so many diseases but after understanding that insulin drives the entire metabolism of the body and influences all of the billions of cells in the body, then it will make perfect sense.
Before I’ll explain how too much insulin makes a wreck of our bodies, I will define certain terms so that you understand it better.
What is insulin? A hormone that is produced by the pancreas.
What is the purpose of insulin? It stores away the nutrients from the food we eat such as sugar, protein and fat.
What is the immediate function of insulin? It balances the sugar level in the blood so that it isn’t too high or too low. If the sugar level goes up, the insulin will push the sugar into the cells and out of the bloodstream.
How is this accomplished? By activating the insulin receptors.
What are insulin receptors? Every cell is surrounded by proteins called insulin receptors. They act like guards at the door of the palace. They decide what is allowed to enter and what isn’t.
In a healthy situation, when the blood sugar becomes elevated, the pancreas will produce insulin which will bind to the receptors and activate them to pump the sugar into the cells and out of the bloodstream. The cells will then convert the sugar into energy or store them for future use.
People with type I diabetes have no issue with the receptors. Instead, their pancreas doesn’t produce insulin. However, when they replace the insulin, their cells function perfectly.
What happens with people who have type II diabetes?
When a person eats, the food enters the mouth and continues down to the stomach and then to the intestines. The job of the digestive system is to break up the food and convert it into smaller parts; The protein becomes amino acids; The fat becomes smaller fatty acids and The carbohydrates becomes glucose, also known as sugar.
This is the only way that carbohydrates can be absorbed into the body. The body cannot absorb carbohydrates the way it is before it’s converted into sugar. Every carbohydrate has an amount of sugar that it’s converted into by the digestive system. An average potato, for example, consists of 50 grams of starch and other carbohydrates. When we eat a potato, the 50 grams of starch and other carbohydrates will be converted into 50 grams of sugar which equals to a little more than a 1/4 cup of sugar.
When you eat a quarter cup of sugar, no matter what it was before, a potato of a cup of sweetened soda, it enters the bloodstream and the sugar level will go up. The body doesn’t like a high sugar level. In fact, it needs to maintain the sugar level on a very narrow range; not too high or too low.
When the sugar level in the bloodstream goes up, the body will send an urgent message to the pancreas that it needs insulin. The insulin will then activate the insulin receptors of the cells and they will pump the excess sugar out of the blood and into the cells where it is used as energy or stored for future use.
The pancreas will continue to produce more insulin until the sugar level is back to a normal level. Then the body will continue its regular functions until the next crisis, which means, until the next potato, bagel, corn or other carb. Now the same process will occur again. The body will send a signal to the pancreas to produce insulin. The insulin will bind to the receptors and activate them to pump the excess sugar out of the bloodstream and into the cells where they are converted into energy for immediate use or stored for future use.
So long as everything functions properly, a person can eat whatever she/he wants to. The sugar source will go from the spoon, to the mouth, to the digestive tract, to the bloodstream and into the cells, all under the direction of the insulin that works effectively.
I’m not saying that eating sugar is healthy, absolutely not! However, for that particular moment it won’t harm.
BUT, if there is a blockage in the system and this blockage is prevalent among 75% of people, then there is a serious problem. What problem is there? You eat the potato, it is converted into 1/4 cup of sugar, it enters the bloodstream, the sugar level is elevated, the pancreas receives a signal to release insulin and the insulin enters the bloodstream. So far everything works properly…
Next the insulin binds to the insulin receptors but the insulin receptors are not activated. The guards are deaf!
If the insulin receptors don’t respond, they can’t pump the sugar out of the bloodstream. If the sugar isn’t pumped out, the sugar levels remain elevated. If the sugar levels remain elevated, it will continuously signal to the pancreas to release more insulin.
The pancreas will produce and release more insulin with each request. The insulin bangs on the receptors but they resist accept the sugar into their cells. This resistance is called insulin resistance.
After many attempts and by an enormous amount of insulin, the receptors will finally become activated and pump the sugar out of the bloodstream and into the cells. This will happen slowly but finally the sugar level will be stabilized.
Sigh…..What a relief!….But what huge strain on the system…..What a heavy price….
The moment to moment function of insulin is to balance the sugar levels and it will therefore be the first thing on the agenda but insulin has many other functions and for those functions, too much insulin is very dangerous.
Why will the body allow so much insulin to be produced if it is so harmful long term? Because those other functions aren’t relevant at the moment. Elevated blood sugar is dangerous immediately.
Therefore, even if an overflow of insulin will have a negative effect on the body in the future, insulin will still continue to be released until the sugar is stabilized.
The overflow of insulin that works so hard to activate the receptors causes many serious problems such as heart disease, type II diabetes, high cholesterol, strokes, high triglycerides, high blood pressure and other diseases that our generation is struggling with.
Why do the receptors become so stubborn and when does this happen? There are many different theories regarding this question. Some believe that too much insulin, hyperinsulinemia, causes insulin resistance and others believe that insulin resistance causes hyperinsulinemia, too much insulin. The theory which is more accepted is that it develops from too much insulin. For our purposes, it doesn’t really matter because the fact is that one caused the other and the cycle repeats itself continuously. Too much insulin will cause resistance and resistance will then cause even more insulin which will cause more resistance etc.
How is it possible that the insulin damages the receptors which it is suppose to activate? They way the body works is that if there is too much insulin, the body will provide less receptors because it assume that a lot aren’t necessary. If there are few receptors, they end up not being sufficient enough and more insulin will be necessary and so on.
How early in life does this problem start? Studies show that young children of parents who have type II diabetes or other symptoms of metabolic syndrome, even though these kids don’t have any problems at all, they have a lot more insulin than children whose parents don’t have these diseases. Despite the fact that both groups of children seamed to be perfectly healthy, those with sick parents had a lot more insulin in their bloodstream. Their future is almost inevitable. Too much insulin is already weakening their receptors making them prone to insulin resistance and a lifelong battle with all diseases that they can get if they don’t change their lifestyle.
Many of these parents say “I have to be careful with my diet to maintain a normal weight, low cholesterol, etc. But my kids, they are lucky. They can eat whatever they want and won’t gain weight.” Then they add, “I was the same when I was young.”
I want to remind these parents that if they refrained from eating whatever they wanted when they where young, they could’ve possibly avoided the diseases that they are currently suffering from.
Unfortunately, we find young children these days that are already overweight even at a young age and some of them already show signs of diseases that we once say only with the older population.
For the sake of these innocent children, take the time to read “High Fructose Corn Syrup – The First Ingredient to Avoid!”
Now that you know how insulin influences the sugar level and what insulin resistance is, you’re probably wondering, How does it cause all other diseases? More in future posts.
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