For many years we have been told to watch how much saturated fat we eat, as we know this can be harmful to the body. Excessive fat intake has been linked to obesity, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure to name but a few. However, in the last 25 years we have seen a major decrease in saturated fat in our foods, while there has been an increase in the amount of sugar added to our foods. Is this just a coincidence?
Our body needs energy to run itself, and this energy is obtained by the body from blood sugar (glucose), as well as by using body fat. Depending on the circumstances, the body breaks down either one of them at a time, to use for energy. For example, exercising at early morning on an empty stomach, when your blood sugar is low, will make your body burn more fat; in contrast, exercising after eating, you will see a rise in your blood-sugar that gets used up first rather than fat. Sugar also gets converted into energy quickly in comparison to fat.
Both sugar and fat are equally important to our body, as they are essential to provide us with energy.
Insulin plays a major role in the conversion of blood sugar into energy by the body as well.
We know that sugar causes the release of insulin to reduce the amount of sugar in your blood. If your sugar levels were to get to high they would coat your organs and almost suffocate them until they stop working. This could eventually lead to your death.
WHAT IS INSULIN AND WHERE DOES IT COME FROM
Insulin is a hormone made by certain cells in the pancreas (an organ of the body). The pancreas is a large elongated glandular organ near the stomach, which secrete juices and hormones into the small intestine and into the bloodstream. Such hormones include insulin, glucagons and somatostatin.
Role of insulin in body: Insulin stops body fat from being used as an energy source. Insulin is released in such a way that it remains in a constant proportion to counterbalance the excess glucose (sugar) in the blood, which otherwise would be toxic; in other words, it gets rid of the extra blood sugar (glucose), regulates and maintains the correct glucose level in blood. It also causes your muscles, liver and the fat cells of the body to store excess glucose.
When you eat foods that are high in simple sugars your blood sugar levels rise quickly to dangerous levels. As a result the body releases insulin to lower your blood sugar levels, but it releases such large amounts that your blood sugar levels plummet to almost 0.
When this happens it is extremely dangerous, because your blood sugar levels need to be kept at an even level. As a result of your blood sugar levels being too low, your body needs to get sugar back into the blood stream. It needs to raise glucose levels quickly and requires something sweet to get the blood sugar up as quickly as possible, so your brain is sent a signal to eat something sweet. Once you have eaten something sweet it is the start of a yo-yo cycle of your blood sugar levels rising, than falling; rising again and falling again. This is extremely dangerous because after a period of time the body gets use to the constant exposure of insulin and it stops reacting to insulin. This is known as insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance (IR) is a condition when the body cells fail to respond to the natural effects of insulin. As a result your body finds it difficult to remove sugar from the blood stream, which results in your blood sugar levels being constantly higher than normal. The resulting rise in blood glucose may increase to such levels outside the normal range that it can cause adverse health effects.
When a person has insulin resistance the pancreas feels it needs to secrete more insulin to remove the excessive amount of sugar in the blood stream. The increase in insulin does not help to reduce blood sugar because the body has got to the stage where it isn’t reacting to insulin. As a result you have an excessive amount of insulin and glucose. Over time this can lead to Diabetes.
HOW SUGAR AFFECTS INSULIN RELEASE, AND CAUSE OBESITY
The sensitivity of the cell walls towards insulin is greatly reduced by Insulin resistance. Hence, the process by which glucose passes through the cell-wall via insulin to be converted into energy is greatly affected. This results in excess glucose accumulating in the blood causing elevated blood sugar levels, which are directed to the liver. In the liver, sugar converts into fat which is carried throughout the body with the blood stream. This process eventually leads to weight gain and hence obesity.
INSULIN ITS LINK TO WEIGHT GAIN, OBESITY AND DIABETES
80 to 90 percent of people that are diagnosed with type-II diabetes are obese. It is a very difficult statistic to ignore, and would suggest that body weight is important to the cause of insulin resistance. The question is how are two related?
It appears that being overweight and diabetes both affect each other. It isn’t just being overweight that is the problem, it is where the body fat is stored that causes the problems. Having excessive fat around the stomach and other muscles in the body may make it more difficult for insulin to transport glucose into the muscles. The extra body fat puts extra stress on the body in different ways, which includes the ability of the body to maintain the correct blood glucose levels.
Also, the storage of body fat around the stomach means that you have a higher amount of cortisol in your body. Cortisol is a stress hormone which has natural functions in the body. However, when you have too much cortisol it causes you to want to eat fatty sweet foods, which feeds into the yo-yo cycle we referred to earlier. The more you eat sweet foods, the more you store fat around your stomach. Research has shown that your hip to waist ratio is one of the biggest predictors of your susceptibility to health related diseases.