Insulin resistance is a major ‘pillar’ of chronic ill-health. Read more about these ‘pillars’ here – it’s truly important information to understand.
Body resistance to insulin comes about because of sustained high blood sugar levels/load that cause the pancreas to secrete large quantities of insulin.
Normally one of the major effects of Insulin is lowering the sugar load in the blood by causing it to be absorbed and stored by the body’s cells.
As a protective mechanism, the cells respond to the extreme levels of insulin activation by literally removing the Insulin receptors on their outward-facing membranes.
These receptors are the little 'locks' into which the insulin molecule fits like a key to activate the cell and cause the sugar to be absorbed.
This means that they can’t have as much insulin locking on to them at any given time and effectively they become ‘deaf’ to the signal of insulin, stopping the cell from ‘listening’ and preventing the absorption of sugars from the blood.
Other effects of Insulin (and Insulin Resistance)
There are many adverse outcomes of Insulin resistance but one big one comes about because the liver is the most susceptible organ to insulin, and the fastest organ to reach a point of resistance.
Insulin signals the liver to do way more than just store sugar, it leads to:
- A continuation of normal glycogen break-down (further increasing blood sugars)
- An increase in the production of LDL and also an increase in how much HDL is reabsorbed (leading to reduced HDL)
- Reduction in the conversion of thyroid hormone to its active form (impacting many areas of metabolism)
- Reduced production of somatomedins that help growth hormone maintain bone deposition and,
- Increases the release of clotting factors which increase the ‘thickness’ of the blood, putting more pressure on the heart’s pumping, and increasing chances of cardiovascular disease because of clot formation.
High Blood Sugar levels result primarily from diet
Another huge negative consequence of Insulin Resistance is simply that it leads to sustained high blood sugar levels, which also have many effects, one of which is the ‘glycation’ of (or deposition of sugar into) the tissues of the body. This is almost like a ‘scar’ of sugar that stops the tissue functioning the way it should, leads to the body trying to break down the scar, and the development of an ongoing inflammatory response.
Our modern diet is highly glycemic – meaning that there is a sustained sugar-load we consume as a result of the common foods we eat.
This is mainly due to the heavy reliance on grain-base carbohydrates as a primary foodstuff.
Cereal grains are a ‘bundle’ of energy designed to help a new plant grow, and they break down very quickly into simple sugars causing a spike in the sugar levels in our blood.
The great reliance on highly processed refined forms of cereal grains magnifies the problem.
Part of this magnification is because of the lack of fibre that otherwise would regulate some of the breakdown and how much simple sugar actually gets absorbed by the gut.
Again, this leads to insulin resistance because we are constantly ‘assaulting’ our body with these sustained and high spikes of sugar, which leads to the insulin release and then cellular ‘exhaustion’ at the influence of insulin (as described above).
Insulin sensitivity however is a vital state to regain and appropriate levels of movement is one way to achieve this. Read more about this here