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How Carbs Affect Insulin

Carbs are Converted to Glucose

As we have seen, because the human body runs on glucose all carbs are converted into glucose in the digestive tract. The glucose then enters the bloodstream and thus contributes to a rise in “blood-glucose”.

Blood Glucose Must be Kept Within Limits

A very high level of glucose in the blood is toxic, while a very low level is detrimental to bodily functions. Therefore the body has a system to regulate the amount of glucose in the bloodstream to ensure that it remains balanced within safe parameters. This glucose balancing system depends upon two mechanisms: hunger and insulin.

Low Blood Glucose Triggers Hunger

If blood-sugar levels drop, the brain causes us to feel hungry. Result? We eat food that is then converted into glucose and our blood glucose levels rise. If we don’t eat and blood-glucose levels fall too low, we trigger the condition known as hypoglycemia.

High Blood Glucose Triggers Insulin

If blood-sugar levels rise, the brain tells our pancreas to release insulin. Result? The insulin disperses the glucose and our blood sugar levels fall. Without insulin to regulate a rise in blood-glucose, the amount of sugar in our bloodstream can become toxic, triggering the condition known as hyperglycemia.

Eating Too Many High GI Carbs Causes Sugar Spike

The hunger-or-insulin see-saw mechanism works well, provided that we don’t eat too many high glycemic index (GI) carbs that are rapidly converted into glucose. When this happens, when a LARGE amount of glucose enters the bloodstream (called a “sugar spike”), the system responds by releasing a LARGE quantity of insulin. (It thinks we’ve eaten a huge amount of food.) The amount of insulin is so large that not only does it disperse the food-glucose we have just eaten, it disperses a lot more. Result? Our blood glucose falls too low. So, within a short time (about 2-3 hours) the brain tells us to feel hungry and we recommence eating. This rapid rise and fall in blood glucose, caused by excess production of insulin, is not good for our health or our eating habits.

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