By Rick Dina D.C.
People who consume an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as other whole, natural, unprocessed plant foods, tend to have much better blood sugar control than those who consume more processed foods and high fat animal foods.
When our blood sugar level becomes too high overall, we begin to set the stage for many disease processes. These problems are primarily related to two factors. The first is the blood sugar itself, known as glucose, and the other is from high levels of the hormone insulin, which the body produces and releases into the bloodstream in response to high blood glucose levels. When glucose is in our bloodstream, it interacts with various protein structures, such as those lining our artery walls. These structures become “cross-linked,” or “glycated” as a result, causing them to become stiffer and less flexible than they were previously. As a result of this decreased flexibility, the arteries now do not function as optimally as they are designed to. When our artery walls become stiffer and less flexible, this is thought by many to be a contributing factor to high blood pressure. When the protein structures of our skin (collagen) become cross-linked, we are more likely to develop wrinkles and stiffer skin. And so it goes with many other structures of our body. When the structure changes, so therefore does the function.
When we have high levels of glucose in the bloodstream, our pancreas releases insulin, whose job is to escort the glucose from the bloodstream into the cells. All else being equal, the higher the blood sugar level, the more insulin the body needs to keep the blood sugar at appropriate low levels. Insulin has other effects in the body as well, such as telling the body to make and store fat, and damaging blood vessel walls. As you can now see, we do not want our glucose and/or insulin levels to get too high in the bloodstream.
Fresh fruits and vegetables, and other whole, natural, unprocessed plant foods, have two especially important characteristics that keep our glucose and insulin levels appropriately low. These foods contain and abundance of dietary fiber. Fiber helps the carbohydrates in our food be released more gradually into the bloodstream. This helps our glucose levels stay lower so the pancreas does not have to produce as much insulin. Whole, natural, unprocessed plant foods are also, in general, very low in fat. An excess of fat, especially saturated and trans fats, as founds in high fat animal products and processed foods, are major contributors to what is known as insulin resistance. This means that when the body releases insulin into the bloodstream, glucose is not as readily escorted into the cells. Hence the cells are resistant to the effects of insulin. The result is that it takes a greater amount of insulin to “get the job done.” The overall level of insulin in our blood rises, and we start to have the problems of excess insulin mentioned previously.
The high fiber, low fat characteristics of whole natural unprocessed plant foods means they are also low in caloric density, which helps us keep our body fat at appropriately low levels. Excess body fat is another major contributor to insulin resistance. We can now see that once we start to become insulin resistant, we have higher insulin levels in the blood, which directs our body to make and store fat. This increasing body fat causes even more insulin resistance, and we have an unhealthy cycle developing. High fat, low fiber foods are huge contributors to this unhealthy cycle.
For more information, or to schedule a nutrition consultation, please visit:
Dr. Rick Dina, D.C. at www.rawfooddoctors.com
Health is Your Greatest Wealth!!