Insulin, Blood Sugar, and Your Heart

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Insulin is
the hormone that regulates blood sugar levels within the body. Diabetes
is the most well known condition involving insulin; however, insulin
resistance is a more common condition affecting 25 to 30 percent
of all Americans. Insulin resistance is a precursor to type II diabetes.

Normally, insulin
facilitates the use of blood sugar by the body. When we consume
too many foods that convert easily into sugar such as refined carbohydrates,
our body has to make lots of insulin to utilize that sugar. Over
time, our bodies quit responding to the insulin, we have to make
more and more to get our cells to respond, and we end up with excess
insulin in our blood.

Excess insulin
is very dangerous to our health, particularly our cardiovascular
health. Excess insulin increases salt and water retention leading
to high blood pressure and excess weight. Insulin also aggravates
high blood pressure by increasing the responsiveness of the arteries
to the effects of adrenaline (stress).

High insulin
levels affect neurotransmitters resulting in sleep disorders. Excess
insulin is directly involved with cardiovascular health in that
it creates atherosclerotic plaque. Insulin is the primary contributor
to both high levels of triglycerides and low levels of good HDL
cholesterol. Insulin also provokes the liver into producing more
LDL cholesterol.

Even if we
do not develop diabetes, insulin resistance is extremely harmful.
When our bodies resist insulin, our blood sugar tends to be too
high. High blood sugar damages our kidneys, eyes, nerves and skin.

Insulin metabolism
comes partly from our genetic makeup and partly from our lifestyle.
The main signs of insulin resistance include weight gain around
the midriff, tiredness, irritability, poor mental function and inability
to lose weight. Another sign is creases in the earlobes which indicate
problems with carbohydrate metabolism that lead to arterial plaqueing.

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20, 2010

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