Monday, November 1, 2010

Review of the Basics of Glucose Metabolism

"The liver's capacity to store carbohydrates in the form of glycogen is very limited and can be easily depleted within ten to twelve hours. So the liver's glycogen reserves must be maintained on a continual basis. That's why we eat carbohydrates."The question no one has bothered to ask until now is this: what happens when you eat too much carbohydrate? Here's the answer: whether it's being stored in the liver or the muscles, the total storage capacity of the body for carbohydrate is really quite limited.
"If you're an average person, you can store about three hundred to four hundred grams of carbohydrate in your muscles, but you can't get at that carbohydrate. In the liver, where carbohydrates are accessible for glucose conversion, you can store only about sixty to ninety grams.
"This is equivalent to about two cups of cooked pasta or three typical candy bars, and it represents your total reserve capacity to keep the brain working properly.
"Once the glycogen levels are filled in both the liver and the muscles, excess carbohydrates have just one fate: to be converted into fat and stored in the adipose, that is, fatty, tissue.
"In a nutshell, even though carbohydrates themselves are fat-free, excess carbohydrates ends up as excess fat. That's not the worst of it. Any meal or snack high in carbohydrates will generate a rapid rise in blood glucose. To adjust for this rapid rise, the pancreas secretes the hormone insulin into the bloodstream. Insulin then lowers the levels of blood glucose.
"The problem is that insulin is essentially a storage hormone, evolved to put aside excess carbohydrate calories in the form of fat in case of future famine. So the insulin that's stimulated by excess carbohydrates aggressively promotes the accumulation of body fat.
"In other words, when we eat too much carbohydrate, we're essentially sending a hormonal message, via insulin, to the body (actually, to the adipose cells). The message: "Store fat."
"Hold on; it gets even worse. Not only do increased insulin levels tell the body to store carbohydrates as fat, they also tell it not to release any stored fat. This makes it impossible for you to use your own stored body fat for energy.
"So the excess carbohydrates in your diet not only make you fat, they make sure you stay fat. It's a double whammy, and it can be lethal.
"Insulin is released by the pancreas after you eat carbohydrates. This causes a rise in blood sugar. Insulin assures your cells receive some blood sugar necessary for life, and increases glycogen storage.
"However, it also drives your body to use more carbohydrate, and less fat, as fuel. And, insulin converts almost half of your dietary carbohydrate to fat for storage. If you want to use more fats for energy, the insulin response must be moderated.
"Diets high in refined sugars release more insulin thereby allowing less stored fat to be burned. High insulin levels also suppress two important hormones: glucagon and growth hormone. Glucagon promotes the burning of fat and sugar. Growth hormone is used for muscle development and building new muscle mass.
"Insulin also causes hunger. As blood sugar increases following a carbohydrate meal, insulin rises with the eventual result of lower blood sugar. This results in hunger, often only a couple of hours (or less) after the meal.
"Cravings, usually for sweets, are frequently part of this cycle, leading you to resort to snacking, often on more carbohydrates. Not eating makes you feel ravenous shaky, moody and ready to "crash." If the problem is chronic, you never get rid of that extra stored fat, and your energy is adversely affected."
So, what's a sugar fiend to do?  Eat meat, vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar or wheat.  Train your body to run on fat, leaving the glucose to the parts of you that truly need it, the CNS and hemoglobin cells.  
"As a matter of fact, we evolved for hundreds of thousands of years from the so-called cave man's diet," which consisted solely of meat and vegetables. With the onset of modern civilization about 5,000 years ago, our physiology suddenly was asked to digest and metabolize larger amounts of sugar and starch especially refined sugars. But if we are unable to utilize the amount of carbohydrates we eat, certain symptoms will develop." 
Symptoms like metabolic syndrome, which leads to all the other diseases of the West.

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