Your pancreas produces insulin whenever you body senses an increase in glucose. It does this because your blood can only hold around a heaped teaspoon of sugar, so when the blood sugar starts to rise the insulin triggers your cells to take in the glucose as energy. The body will also start converting the glucose into glycogen which is stored in the liver and muscles (this acts as an "energy battery" as the glycogen can be converted back to glucose easily). Humans evolved to eat one or two big meals per day (eg catching an animal and eating it) so insulin was produced infrequently. We evolved without, refrigerators, supermarkets and convenience foods. In western societies we now ingest calories (food and drink) pretty much all day and night, so our pancreas is constantly pumping out insulin. This causes constant insulin spikes. Not only do most people eat all day, they also eat highly processed foods, carbs and sugars that are easily digested (they have a high Glycemic Index).
What is the Glycemic Index?
The glycemic index (or GI) is a ranking of carbohydrates on a scale from 0 to 100 according to how much they raise blood sugar (glucose) levels after eating. Foods with a high GI are those which are quickly digested, absorbed and metabolised and result in fluctuations in blood glucose levels. Low GI carbohydrates cause smaller fluctuations in your blood glucose and insulin levels. Low GI foods take much longer to break down and metabolize. High GI foods are basically "easy sugars" that will immediately spike insulin production. These types of calories never give your endocrine system a rest. The endocrine system is the collection of glands that produce hormones that regulate metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sexual function, reproduction, sleep, and mood. So it pretty much defines who you are.
Things That Lower Insulin
- Apple cider vinegar.
- Fermented foods (yoghurt, kefir, pickles, blue cheese, sauerkraut).
- High potassium foods (Avocado, pomegranate, kale, cabbage, spinach, banana, sweet potato, watermelon, beets, tomato puree.
- Vitamin B1 (Green peas, asparagus, herring, black beans, brown rice, sunflower seeds, pistachios, spinach).
- Fibre (avocados, beans and lentils, peas, broccoli, celery, dark berries, coconut, chickpeas, quinoa).
- Fatty foods.
- Lowering cortisol & estrogen.
- Sleep and exercise.
- Plenty of vegetables.