The link between carbohydrates and insulin resistance
The hormone insulin plays a major role in the metabolism of carbohydratesand their conversion to energy in the body. When you eat carbohydrates, they are converted into glucose in the bloodstream, which triggers the release of insulin. This virtually escorts the glucose to the body’s cells, where it can be used as energy. If there is too much glucose, the insulin turns it into glycogen, which is stored in your muscles and liver ready to be converted back toglucose when it is needed.
However, in the high-refined ‘carob’ world in which we live, we often have too much glucose floating around in the bloodstream, and then insulin converts it to fat. And our body cells may become so flooded with insulin that they cease to be responsive to it, so the pancreas keeps producing more and more insulin in an attempt to get energy to your cells. This is known as ‘insulin resistance‘.
Over a period of time, less and less glucose gets used as energy, and more and more gets laid down as fat. Since insulin also sends messages to the brain to tell you that you are hungry, more and more insulin means increasing cravings for carb-laden food.
The only people who are benefiting from refined foods are:
- The dentists who have to patch up your decaying teeth
- The pharmaceutical companies who have to sell you drugs to sort out the symptoms of your ailing immune system and your susceptibility to chronic and degenerative disease
- The food manufacturers, who are only really interested in profit. If you add to this a high intake of caffeine, alcohol, smoking and a lack of exercise, then you will almost certainly be taking a wobbly walk down the road to ill health.
Is it enough just to cut out refined carbohydrates?
Totally banishing all things processed and adopting a healthier diet based on fresh produce is a definite start, but if you have a weight problem linked to insulin resistance, it may not be enough, because if you are still eating a diet that is too high in the wrong sort of carbohydrates — coupled with not eating enough protein or fat to slow down the rate at which these excessive carbs are hitting your blood-sugar levels — you will still have problems. A low-fat/high-carb diet can give you a nasty shock every time you jump on the scales.
The thing to remember is that all carbohydrates have an effect on your blood sugar, and every gram of carbohydrate consumed is equal to one gram of glucose in your bloodstream. So if you are eating more than your body can burn for energy, or can safely store as glycogen in the liver, the rest will be turned to fat.
The key factor in balancing blood-sugar levels and banishing thesymptoms of insulin resistance is controlling your intake of carbohydrates. In order to do this effectively you need to know which ones have the greatest impact on your blood sugar and which do not.
Initially, this will need a little time and effort on your part as you learn about the different sorts of carbohydrates. You may find that the changes you have to make to your diet are quite drastic, but before long — as you start to feel and look better — you will be amazed at how little you miss the wrong kinds of carbohydrates such as processed and sugary foods. Youwon’t feel the need to pile your plate high with potatoes and pasta, because your newly balanced blood sugar levels won’t be crying out for acarbohydrate fix.