Monday, March 21, 2011

Glucose Primer

Glucose is the predominant blood sugar and one of the body's two main fuel sources (the other is fatty acids). Glucose, in one form or another, is also the main form of digestible dietary carbohydrate in nearly all human diets. Starch is made of long chains of glucose molecules, which are rapidly liberated and absorbed during digestion. Sucrose, or table sugar, is made of one glucose and one fructose molecule, which are separated before absorption.

Blood glucose is essential for life, but it can also be damaging if there is too much of it. Therefore, the body tries to keep it within a relatively tight range. Normal fasting glucose is roughly between 70 and 90 mg/dL*, but in the same individual it's usually within about 5 mg/dL on any given day. Sustained glucose above 160 mg/dL or so causes damage to multiple organ systems. Some people would put that number closer to 140 mg/dL.

This is just the basics, but of note - 
1.  The much maligned high fructose corn syrup is virtually identical to sucrose, except the ratio is 55/45 in favor of fructose.  IOW, table sugar's no better.
2.  Due to the tragically high numbers of type II diabetics, you can get a glucose meter at a very low cost (Tim Ferriss describes how he uses one in his new book, and William Davis often does as well) to keep track of your blood glucose levels.

Speculation - measures of the fasting lipid profile - triglycerides, HDL, LDL, total cholesterol - are correlates with poor metabolic function resulting in poor control of blood sugar levels, but not causes of any ill health per se.  It is the high carb intake and the resulting hormonal disruption that drives the sugars higher in combination with the toxic effects of chronically high sugars that do the damage via inflammation and other sub-optimizations of normal human metabolism.

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