This is a series of posts aimed to discuss the effects of insulin and inflammation. I decided to discuss this topic in greater detail because I personally feel that diet is a significant factor that could help manage or make worse topical steroid withdrawal symptoms. During TSW, we want to limit inflammation to have a smoother ride. Insulin is generally discussed in greater frequency in relevance to diabetes, but there are similar themes and information about insulin that are relevant to TSW. Understanding some factors that are related to inflammation may be helpful in our course of recovery.
The first part discusses general topics on insulin and insulin resistance. The next part will discuss the link between insulin, insulin resistance and inflammation. Subscribe to our RSS/Facebook/Google+/Twitter page to stay updated when the next post is published.
What is Insulin?
Insulin is a hormone that is produced by the pancreas. It’s key function is to regulate blood glucose level by converting them into glycogen in the liver and muscles, and into fats for storage in your cells. This is essential because it is through insulin that your cells derive energy (from glucose) from the bloodstream.
When is Insulin produced?
Insulin is produced when your blood glucose level is increased, providing the stimuli for your pancreas to start churning them out so as to manage the increased glucose levels.
Then we ask, how is blood glucose level increased? Through digestion of food that contains carbohydrates in the form of simple sugars (glucose, fructose, galactose) or more complex sugars such as disaccharides (sucrose) or polysaccharides (starch, cellulose). Food high in carbs content, when digested, will result in an increase in blood sugar concentration and will trigger insulin production.
What is Insulin Resistance?
Insulin resistance occurs when your cells stop or don’t respond to insulin as well as they should. Glucose uptake into your cells as energy or storage is reduced. In other words, your cells become less sensitive to insulin.
What happens when I develop Insulin Resistance?
Your pancreas will produce more and more insulin to cope with the decreased sensitivity/increased resistance. Overtime, this result in “hyperinsulinemia” – too much insulin in your bloodstream.
As presence of insulin inhibits the body usage of stored fat for energy, your body will become highly dependent on raw glucose for energy instead. This leads to a spiral of weight gain, as you continue to feel sluggish due to the poor energy metabolism of your body. Related metabolic syndromes also occurs: high blood pressure, high triglycerides, high cholesterol, obesity, heart problems, type 2 diabetes.
What causes Insulin Resistance?
The paper “Insulin resistance is a cellular antioxidant defense mechanism” provides a reasonable explanation of what actually happens at the biochemical and cellular level. In general, your cells are trying to save themselves from toxic excess glucose by switching turning off their sensitivity switch.
What causes excess glucose? It is a simple answer by looking at this equation:
Energy balance = Energy input – Energy Output
Excess toxic glucose is a result of lifestyle factor. You are consuming more than you need and you are not expending enough energy. You lead a sedentary lifestyle. You eat high-energy, low nutritional diet – processed food, high sugars, cookies, cakes, candies, confectionary, bread, starch and etc.
If you are overweight, you probably and most likely have increased insulin resistance. (It is a vicious cycle, insulin-resistance causes weight gain, and increased weight leads to further increased resistance. This is why a definitive way to improve your insulin sensitivity is to reduce your weight to a healthy range.)
Other causes may include: older age (decreased cells function), factors that may affect proper hormonal functioning such as poor sleep, medications, smoking, certain diseases, nutritional deficiency and etc. In general, any factor that may affect proper functioning of your hormones or health or your metabolic system can result in increased insulin resistance. It would be great if science and medicine can put an exact list of causal factors.
This is it for Part 1 of the series. Stay tuned for the next part when we discuss the links between insulin, insulin resistance and inflammation. Subscribe to our RSS/Facebook/Google+/Twitter page to stay updated when the next post is published.