Since I developed diabetes a few years ago…as the consequence of a lifelong poor diet and weight gain…I am always looking for ways to explain diabetes to others in easy to understand ways.
When you are diabetic, it is important to understand how insulin and insulin production works.
It is far healthier to control diabetes with changes in diet and exercise than with medication and insulin shots.
There are 2 main factors at play in diabetes:
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas and allows the body to use the glucose (most simple sugar) in the bloodstream.
Think of the colored blocks as Glucose.
Think of the wooden box as a cell in your body.
Insulin is the force that pushes the blocks/Glucose into the box/cell.
We get sugars from Carbohydrates.
There are complex carbohydrates and simple carbohydrates.
All of these blocks stacked together are like complex carbohydrates.
Your body has to work harder to break up these groups of blocks/Glucose.
The body spends more energy/Calories working on this job, so it is using up some of the glucose in the complex carbohydrate.
It takes longer to do this job so the individual blocks/Glucose are released into the bloodstream more slowly.
The pancreas does not have to work as hard so suddenly.
This single block represents a simple carbohydrate.
This might be in the form of glucose or fructose (as found in high fructose corn syrup).
The body doesn’t have to burn much energy/calories or take much time to get the glucose from the bloodstream into the cells.
Simple carbohydrates dump a lot of simple sugar (glucose or fructose) into the blood stream all at once.
The pancreas has to suddenly work very hard to make enough insulin to deal with the sudden rise in blood sugar.
The problem with eating a diet high in processed foods (high fructose sugars, white wheat breads & pastas, and white rice) is that the carbohydrates in the food have been broken down more, or refined, completely to create simple carbohydrates.
Simple carbohydrates are easily and quickly broken down in the body so they “flood” the bloodstream with glucose.
Complex carbohydrates found in whole grains take longer to break down so the simple sugars are released into the blood stream much more slowly.
The more carbohydrates (which are made up of sugars) and sugary foods we eat, the higher our blood sugar is.
The higher our blood sugar is, the more insulin our pancreas has to produce to get the sugar (glucose) into our cells.
Eating a diet high in refined carbohydrates (simple sugars) is like taking all of the blocks/Glucose and stuffing them into the holes in the wooden box all at the same time.
Keeping your diet like this over a lifetime, or part of a lifetime, is what can cause diabetes.
The pancreas simply gets worn out and it gives up in trying to produce the massive amount of insulin required to push high levels of glucose into the cells.
Making smart lifestyle changes in your diet, taking one small step at a time, is an important move towards a healthier you!
Believe In Your Success, I Do!