Insulin resistance occurs when your cells (liver, muscle and fat cells) are not responding adequately to the insulin produced by your liver, as a result of ingested carbohydrate.
When you eat a carbohydrate food, the carbohydrate is broken down into glucose. Glucose is a sugar. Long chains of glucose are what make up carbohydrates. Special cells in your pancreas, beta cells, secrete the hormone insulin. It is insulin’s job to get the glucose out of your blood stream, where prolonged high glucose levels can wreak havoc in many tissues of the body. Insulin helps shuttle the glucose into your liver and muscle cells. The liver and muscle cells can store glucose as glycogen. This form of storage can only happen when glycogen has been depleted and needs to be restored. In an overfed, sedentary state, there is no need for replenishing glycogen and most of the glucose goes back to the liver to be converted into triglycerides and then goes to the fat cells, to be stored as fat.
Simply stated, if you had cereal and toast for breakfast or stopped by a Starbucks and picked up a mocha and bagel or coffee cake, then drove to work, had a sandwich, chips and soda for lunch, cookies for a mid afternoon snack and pizza for dinner and sat at your desk all day, then you are definitely overfed and have not depleted glycogen stores. This daily pattern of food consumption and lack of activity, leads to chronic high blood glucose and storage of glucose as fat. As your muscle and liver cells become bombarded by this daily barrage of sugar, they do something called down regulation. Insulin needs a receptor on the cell to allow the insulin to let the glucose into the cell. When the muscle and liver cells don’t need the glucose, they begin to stop putting the receptors in the cell membrane or wall to allow the glucose in. So, high levels of glucose and insulin are floating in the blood stream for too long. Glucose can wreak havoc on tissues throughout the body by a mechanism called glycation. Since glucose is a sugar and we all know that sugars in liquids are sticky, the sugar sticks to various proteins throughout the body. This is glycation or glycosylation resulting in advanced glycation end products or AGEs. Glycation damages proteins. This makes blood sticky. No one should like the sound of sticky blood. In fact, this is why hemoglobin A1c’s (HbA1c) are measured. Glucose likes to stick to red blood cells, also called hemoglobin. If you are already a diabetic or prediabetic, you might know your HbA1c levels. Normal function of cells cannot occur with these sugars attached and damage throughout the body ensues. AGEs age us and are suspected in many, if not all forms of inflammation and chronic diseases.
“More than any other single dietary component, AGEs are now found to be linked to more diseased and health problems, including diabetes, heart and kidney disease, but also dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, arthritis, osteoporosis, skin aging, poor wound healing, and periodontal disease.”
High blood sugar levels should be avoided to prevent the damaging effects of glycation.
Eat a diet rich in non-starchy vegetables, grass fed meats, fish and nuts. How we prepare these foods is also important to keep AGEs down. Low heat, poaching and stewing instead of frying, broiling and grilling, are important ways to keep AGEs low.