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Why the Modern Diet Kills Part One


By: Dr. Robert Neposlan

We’ve been sharing in our articles information that supports the suggestion that 70% of today’s illnesses are a product of lifestyle choice. In today’s article we’re going to see how the modern diet, high in sugar and high Glycemic Index (GI) carbohydrates, is contributing to this fact.

In a previous EATING WELL edition, we listed 76 deadly reasons why sugar intake should be controlled in our diets. I’m going to suggest that it’s not only sugar that’s killing us but also the quantity of high GI carbohydrates (grains, corn, breads, chips, donuts, sodas, potatoes, starch, processed foods, junk food) in our diets.

To understand why, we need to understand a little about physiology.

When we eat, there are literally millions of actions that are taking place in our bodies, all perfectly orchestrated by the nervous system/brain. Ultimately the food will reach the small intestine and be in a form that is absorbable by the body. In the case of carbohydrates, they will be in the form of monosaccharides (simple sugars) like glucose, galactose and fructose. Once glucose enters the bloodstream, the pancreas releases a very important hormone, insulin. And this is where it all gets interesting.

Glucose and Insulin

When blood glucose (blood sugar) levels are elevated the body releases insulin to help disperse the glucose. Glucose is the “gasoline” that drives the cell. It provides energy. The insulin transports the glucose to cells needing this energy. The cells have “insulin receptors” positioned so that insulin can bind to them and glucose can then enter the cell. Picture the receiving docks at Wal-Mart and how trucks back into the loading docks to empty their loads. The cells in the body have thousands of these receiving sites and some are specific to the insulin carrying the glucose. Once inside the cell the glucose is “burned” and produces compounds that the cell uses for sustaining life.

If we eat a diet that contains too much sugar and too many high GI carbs (carbs that are rapidly converted into blood glucose) we force our body to respond by releasing equally large amounts of insulin into our bloodstream to cope with the glucose. Over time this excessively high level of insulin can cause the “insulin-receptors” in our cells to become less sensitive to insulin.

The Problems this Leads To

When cells become less sensitive to the effects of insulin, they accept less glucose, so more glucose than usual remains in the bloodstream. The result is that the pancreas (producer of insulin) works harder and produces more insulin. This unfortunately is a vicious circle…the more the cell receptors become desensitized (deaf) the more insulin the pancreas produces (yells). And here in lies the problem…this combination of insulin-insensitivity and insulin over-production leads to one of two things:

  1. The pancreas gets worn out and insulin production slows down to abnormally low levels. The result? We develop type 2 diabetes (adult onset diabetes occurring in about 30 percent of cases) or
  2. The insulin-resistant patient doesn’t develop diabetes (because the pancreas continues to produce sufficient insulin) but, instead, contracts hyperinsulinism (abnormally high levels of insulin in the blood). This friends, is every bit as dangerous as the first.

High insulin and high blood sugar affects:

  1. Immune system function. Vitamin C and blood sugar enter the cell through the same receptor sites. So in essence they compete for entry in the cell. If glucose (blood sugar) is taking up the majority of the entry sites, vitamin C cannot enter the cell. Vitamin C plays a critical role in immune system function.
  2. Insulin is involved in the storage of magnesium. Magnesium’s major role is in the relaxation of muscles. If you can’t store magnesium the smooth muscles of blood vessels cannot relax. Chronically constricted blood vessels lead to chronic increases in blood pressure. Magnesium is also involved in almost all intracellular energy production and so decreased magnesium also leads to decreased energy.
  3. Insulin also causes the retention of sodium, which causes fluid retention, which causes high blood pressure and congestive heart failure.
  4. A recent study showed that people with high levels of insulin in their blood are also likely to have high levels of homocysteine, a substance that raises the risk of heart disease, stroke and birth defects.
  5. Osteoporosis is another potential problem resulting from insulin resistance. Insulin is a master hormone that controls the release of growth hormones. Bone is built upon the command of this hormone. When this is reduced, the amount of bone building is reduced, and the amount of calcium (stored in bones) excreted is increased.
  6. Insulin also plays a role on the formation of cholesterol. Cholesterol plays a role in the formation of sex hormones like testosterone and progesterone. Decreased sex hormones = good-bye libido.
  7. Insulin also plays a role in aging and cell division. There are numerous studies linking insulin levels in the proliferation of cancer cells.
  8. Insulin raises the LDL (bad cholesterol) levels in our blood. LDL’s play a direct role in the plaguing (arteriosclerosis) of artery walls.
  9. High levels of insulin also affects a part of the nervous system called the sympathetic (flight or fight) nervous system. Stimulation of the sympathetics results in the release of another fight or flight hormone, cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone and stress eats up the body’s feel good hormone, serotonin. Decreased serotonin = hello depression.

In the above examples we have only scratched the surface on the effects of increased insulin and blood sugar. Our previous EATING WELL article on 76 deadly reasons to avoid sugar certainly laid out a number of other health-related concerns. I’ve attempted to share here the reasons why…ultimately it’s the effects of high carbohydrates and sugars on insulin levels that is the link to disease in the body.

We will continue to share a little more information regarding this, and give some recommendations on modifying our diets.

Until next week,

Eat Well

Dr. Rob

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