Bloody Sugar!

There is about two teaspoons of glucose in your entire volume of blood at anytime as your body tightly regulates this amount. The pancreas produces insulin to signal muscle cells to take-up the excess glucose that arrives into your blood when food is consumed. Any extra glucose beyond what muscles cells can absorb is next signaled for storage into fat cells. The rate at which the digestive system injects glucose into the blood varies depending on what type of food is consumed. For example, the 8+ teaspoons of sugar in a bottle of soda is absorbed much more rapidly than complex carbs in oatmeal.

The glycemic index a rating that scientist created that indicates what foods create blood glucose spikes relative to table sugar.  There are three macro food groups: Carbohydrates, Fats and Proteins. The digestive system converts all carbohydrates to glucose, so there is not a huge difference between eating sugar, grains, beans or starchy vegetables. It all gets converted to blood glucose, therefore eating too many carbs creates an overabundance of blood glucose.  The glycemic index just indicates foods that create greater insulin spikes.  At the end of the day all carbohydrates become blood sugar and must be chemically processed (metabolized).

Insulin is a growth hormone. When muscles can no longer absorb the glucose, insulin will signal the body to store the remaining excess glucose into fat cells. The fat cells use glucose to grow, thus a person becomes fat!

Note: fructose is is handled differently than glucose. That is another story regarding why eating too much fruit is also bad. Consumption of of fruit should be limited to one small piece a day.

Cancer researchers at Memorial Sloan Kettering have discovered that all cancers have in common gene mutations in glucose uptake.  Cancer now appears to be a signalling problem between excessive glucose in your blood and your organ an gland cells.  When excessive blood glucose is present beyond what muscle and fast cells can store, then insulin signals your glands and organ cells to take-up the glucose. When this happens, to quote the CEO at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Research, “you are off to the races with the formation of a human cancer“.

Counting carbohydrates is critical not only to weight control, it is now recognized as the best way to prevent getting cancer. Over consuming dietary fats does not create an insulin response. Over consuming proteins can create an insulin response that is somewhere in between carbs and fats.

A critical measurement that every person should monitor at home several times a month is one’s fasting blood glucose levels,  This is done after eight hours or more of fasting, typically in the morning before consuming food or water. Testing once a year during a physical exam is not enough data to accurately determine if one has too much glucose in their blood. Today’s guideline is that the normal range should be between 70-100 mg/dL, but some chronic disease researchers are beginning to suggest that the number should be well below 100 and ideally down near 80!


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