Disease & Conditions
Unless you have been living in a cave without electricity for the last 75 years, you are likely aware that "Insulin", a hormone produced and secreted by the pancreas, is absolutely necessary to control blood sugar.
You also likely know that if you do not produce enough insulin, your blood sugar count will remain high and you will be diagnosed as a diabetic (referring to the disease of "Sugar Diabetes").
Diabetes Canada statistics tell us that we find a new diabetic every 8 minutes in Canada (over 60,000 new cases per year - do the math).
More alarming to me is the fact that the same statistic just 6 years ago was one new diabetic every 23 minutes - a 3 fold increase in just 6 years.
In 2015, Diabetes Canada estimated 3.4 million people (9.3%) has diabetes. Prediabetes prevalence is estimated at 5.7 million (22.1%).1
It is estimated that one of ten deaths in Canadian adults was attributable to diabetes in 2008/092
An estimated 24-29 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, which has seen a 300% increase in the U.S. population from 1980 to 2014 according to the Center for Disease Control.
The American Diabetes Association estimates that just 4% of people in the U.S. with diabetes have the type 1 form, also known as juvenile diabetes.
Many people may not realize that the diabetes "epidemic" is that of the diabetes type II variety which is a situation where the pancreas does produce or even over produce insulin but for some or many reasons certain cells have become "Insulin Resistant".
Other names used are - carbohydrate intolerant, or glucose intolerant or glucose resistant.
Historically, man developed the ability to produce insulin through a genetic adaptation fondly referred to as the 'thrifty gene'.
Insulin became the hormone responsible for storing surplus sugars (the digestive product of all carbohydrates) in muscle cells as Muscle Glycogen (athlete know about that), liver glycogen and body fat- also known as tri-glycerides.
I works like this: digested carbohydrates become blood sugar. Blood sugar triggers the pancreas to release the hormone insulin. Insulin directs the sugars to their appropriate storage depots.
When the glycogen stores are full due to eating many carbohydrates or due to physical inactivity, the surplus is stored as fat.
When blood sugar drops, Insulin follows suit and drops. This allow the pancreas to release it other hormone - glucagon - which is responsible for mobilizing fat from stores and making it available for energy. Like an energy bank.
The problems arise when we constantly eat too many carbohydrates which keep the insulin production high and therefore the glucagon production low.
We tend to always be in the 'storage mode'.
This can be aggravated by choosing carbohydrates that raise the blood sugar very quickly (sugar drinks, sugar snacks, white flour products are a few examples) and are known as High Glycemic Index foods. These high GI foods create a situation of chronic hyper insulinemia.
This condition, experienced by about 70 per cent of the population is responsible for the obesity epidemic which is coinciding with the diabetes epidemic. High insulin is also partly or wholly responsible for insatiable appetites, elevated cholesterol, tri-glycerides, and blood pressure.
Insulin also interferes with the production of some of our other hormones responsible for controlling inflammatory conditions.
To control the insulin war try to eat very complex carbohydrates and to eat some protein in every meal and every snack. Eat some of the protein food in your meal or snack first - before eating or drinking your carbohydrate.
This will reduce the rate of rise in blood sugar thus controlling the rate of release and quantity of release of the insulin hormone.
If you follow these few simple rules you will have more energy throughout the day, control your weight with ease and generally be healthier.
Dr. L. Lee Coyne, the Healthy Professor, is a nutritional consultant, lecturer and author of Fat Won't Make You Fat and the LeanSeekers nutrition program.