What is Insulin and Why it is Important?
AIM for Absolute Wellness
It helps to keep blood sugar from getting too low or too high.
You need sugar (glucose) for energy but most of the cells in our bodies cannot ‘open’ to absorb sugar from the bloodstream. So, after you eat, insulin is released from the pancreas, then attaches to our cells to ‘open’ and allow sugar into the bloodstream to be used for energy. If there is more sugar in your body than is needed, insulin works to store any excess sugar in the liver so it can be released when your blood sugar levels are low. If your body is not producing enough insulin, you may develop hyperglycemia (high blood sugar). This is harmful to your body, brain, and overall health if blood sugar levels stay high for long periods of time.
How too much insulin affects your body, your brain, and your overall health:
- Insulin dictates how much fat the body will store. If your insulin levels are high, losing weight is a constant fight. Insulin acts on your brain to increase appetite — specifically, increasing cravings for sugar and refined carbohydrates.
- Insulin ages your brain by increasing inflammation and oxidative stress. What this means is: it can cause cellular damage which increases your risk for heart disease and has also been linked to increased chances of type 3 diabetes- also know Alzheimer’s.
- Insulin increases LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, lowers HDL (“good”) cholesterol, raises triglycerides and increases your blood pressure.
- Eating too much sugar leads to extra insulin which can stimulate the growth of cancer cells.
- Insulin leads to mood and behavioral disturbances such as depression, panic attacks, anxiety, insomnia, and ADHD.
- Insulin makes your blood sticky and more likely to clot, leading to heart attacks and strokes.
- Creates hormonal imbalance:
- Women: Leads to infertility, facial hair growth, acne and scalp hair loss.
- Men: Causes low testosterone and breast growth.
What you can do to rebalance insulin, both nutritionally and through your lifestyle:
- Eat whole, real foods, mostly from plant-based sources. Our bodies are designed to flourish on vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, fruits and animal protein such as fish, chicken and eggs.
- Remove toxic foods from your diet. Toxic foods, such as trans fats, high-fructose corn syrup, and all processed foods with ingredients you don’t easily recognize, interfere with your metabolism and create blood-sugar imbalances. This includes Agave Nectar.
- Avoid refined sugar and flour products. They slow down your metabolism and contribute to inflammation in your body. Instead, eat grains that are high in fiber and protein such as: quinoa, farro, wheat berries, etc.
- Eat early & try to eat protein and fat with every meal. Starting off the day with protein — nuts or nut butters, eggs, a protein shake, or even leftovers from the night before — jump-starts your metabolism and helps prevent overeating throughout the day.
- Eat frequently. Fueling your body regularly throughout the day speeds up your metabolism. Make it a priority to have three meals and a couple of snacks every day.
Do you want to learn more about eating to reach your optimal health? Click here to access my free Guide to the Slow Carb Diet!