The types of foods that you choose, and the timing of your meals, is very important to the health of your body. Although many people struggle to eat healthy meals on a regular basis, it is a relatively easy part of our lives to address with more informed choices.
Knowing a bit about insulin and how it operates within your body is a great starting point. Insulin is a hormone, and is one of the only hormones that we can control through diet and stress management.
Insulin is released in the body in response to increased blood sugars. Produced by the pancreas, insulin allows your body to use sugar (glucose) from carbohydrates in the food that you eat. Specifically, after you eat and your blood sugar level rises, cells in your pancreas are signalled to release insulin into your bloodstream. Insulin then signals the cells to absorb sugar into the bloodstream – acting as the ‘key’ which unlocks the cell to allow sugar to enter the cell and be used for energy.
If you have more sugar in your body than it needs, insulin helps to store the sugar in your liver where it is converted into fat. The sugar will only be released back into the body if your blood sugar level is low or if you need more sugar, such as during physical activity.
It’s likely that you know someone who is diabetic. Diabetic individuals have poor blood sugar metabolism, which can also contribute to cancer, heart disease, liver disease, nerve damage, weight gain, joint damage, and mood disorders to name a few. Insulin is known as a ‘mitogenic’ hormone. This means that it causes cell division – which can accelerate the aging process and feed the process of rapid cell division seen in cancer patients.
Insulin resistance has also been linked to acne. The typical Western diet is high in refined carbohydrates like bread, rice, and pasta, all of which can lead to insulin resistance. This is a condition in which the body must produce more insulin than normal to maintain blood sugar levels. Researchers have speculated that insulin resistance can lead to more sebum production and additional inflammation, both of which contribute to acne.
What and when you eat is a choice you make. Greater understanding of important hormones in the body, like insulin, will help put you on the right path to making more informed choices!