“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare. This is true of so many things. Sugar, for instance is hidden in so may foods under alternative names. The reality is your body perceives it all the same. The response of your body to this glucose influx is to release insulin, to help dispose of this as quickly as possible. Some of the names of sugar are anything that end in -ose like, glucose, fructose, maltose, sucrose. Any syrup rice, maple, malt, you name it. Some labels even try to convince you that the sugars contained within are somehow different, organic raw sugar, turbinado sugar, invert sugar and yes even honey. IT’S ALL SUGAR, and your body doesn’t interpret it any differently.
Every time you ingest glucose or anything that can be broken down to or converted to glucose your body responds with a release of insulin ( with the exception of type I diabetics). If you are like an increasing number of Americans (some estimates are as high as 80%) you are insulin resistant. So basically more insulin is like throwing gasoline on a a bonfire and wondering why the garden hose won’t put out the flames. Most people are unaware of the fact that they are insulin resistant. Unless you have been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, pre diabetes, or diabetes it is probably something that never entered your vocabulary. Insulin responds to input. The more we put in, the more insulin we crank out. Eventually the cells tire of the insulin signals to take in more glucose and turn a deaf ear. This is insulin resistance. The signal is still there, the stimulus is still there (glucose) but it appears that no one is listening. Insulin resistance is the foundational corner stone for many serious chronic diseases including heart disease, hypertension, infertility, PCOS, migraines, some forms of dementia and cancer. Elevated blood insulin levels can precede a diagnosis of elevated blood glucose, either pre diabetes or diabetes, by 10 years or more. News flash, most physicians NEVER check insulin levels.
Insulin is a hormone, the master hormone actually. It is manufactured in the pancreas and is released when we ingest food that increases blood glucose. Insulin directs muscle protein production and growth, glucose conversion to fat and storage of fat, and glucose use for energy production. When there is an over supply of glucose, insulin works feverishly to pack it away. If it can’t be used for energy right away it has many storage areas to hide it in for later use. You might find some of the storage areas more appealing than others. Muscle for instance. Storage in this are is limited unless stimulation of other hormones accompanies insulin, by way of use and conditioning of the muscles. Other areas of storage include the liver and fat cells. Unfortunately these areas frequently experience ’over storage’ problems leading to fatty liver and excess body fat. The solution to decreasing unwanted storage is to decrease insulin stimulation. Simply put decreased glucose, sugar or most commonly known as carbohydrate consumption. Consumption of fat has no effect on blood glucose and creates no insulin response. Likewise animal based protein elicits very little change in blood glucose and little to no corresponding insulin response unless consumed in extreme excess.
Quite literally the answer to lowering blood glucose and thereby decreasing insulin levels and insulin resistance is to not feed the beast. Processed carbohydrates are those most likely to elicit a rapid rise in both glucose and insulin response. If it comes in a box or bag or heat and eat package beware. Read the label, look for total carbohydrates (shoot for less than 50 total per day), look for hidden sugars and run. The easiest way to do this is to stick to real foods. Foods you can pronounce with ingredients you can pronounce, usually less than 5 ingredients, and close to the way they originally were created, minimally processed. Vegetables, meats, very limited fruits, caution with added sauces and dressings. Stop looking for low fat. Understand that anytime manufacturers remove something from a product they must replace it with something else to avoid having it taste like cardboard. That something is generally a sugar. Besides taste sugars are chosen because of low cost, massive availability, and addictive properties. Yes, along with all the other down sides of sugar it is addictive. Multiple studies have documented the changes that occur chemically in the brain in response to sugar. Those responses are similar to changes seen with both heroine and cocaine. The song by 80’s band Chicago said it best ‘Hard Habit to Break’. Not impossible.
A rose by any other name indeed, but keep in mind that roses have thorns.