Insulin is the primary hormone driving all of metabolism and as such it influences the actions of virtually every cell in the body. It is for this reason that insulin has sometimes been called the "governor" hormone. This is an excellent article explaining some of the science and lists 7 herbs to help manage blood sugar levels.
Further, according to Dr. Michael Dan Eades and Dr. Mary Dan Eades and others, "Over 20,000 research papers spanning more than three decades implicate the abnormal metabolism of insulin (resulting from long term insulin/blood sugar imbalances - caused by sugar, refined flour, chemical overload, lack of nutrients and presence of other insulin stimulants) to be the root cause of many of the diseases of modern civilization, including obesity, hypertension, osteoporosis, high triglycerides levels, heart disease, diabetes, many cancers and a growing list of other “mystery” disorders popping up in Western cultures and the U.S. in particular."
We find it particularly fascinating that not only have disturbances in insulin/blood sugar balance been linked to nearly all of the modern degenerative diseases, but the signs of insulin-blood sugar imbalance overlap symptoms related to inflammatory response, yeast, fungal or candida overgrowth, as well as grains and mycotoxins.
In addition to signs of insulin/blood sugar imbalance, there are some easy but useful self-checks you can use to detect some of the early warning signs, including determining your own "insulin meter". To help prevent getting bogged down in minutia, we also suggest that you consider the glycemic index in context and for the easiest method of constructing a reasonably healthy diet, apply the first of our 3 Easy Steps to improved health.
Primarily, insulin is a nutrient-storing hormone. While its secondary job is to lower blood sugar (or glucose), insulin's main job is to store excess nutrients which can be used for energy (and ultimately cell growth, as well as cell division and proliferation). These nutrients, in the form of blood glucose or glycogen, are first stored in muscle tissue, then smaller amounts in the liver and finally any excess is stored as fat. Insulin is the primary hormone that stimulates fat storage.
In addition insulin prevents fat from being released from cells, and excess insulin makes you hungry. Consistently high insulin levels contribute to obesity, type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, kidney failure, and certain types of cancers but the most insidious and far-reaching damage may actually come from long term and excessive swings in insulin/blood sugar balance. In 2003 a research arm of the American Diabetes Association determined that "optimal fasting blood glucose" should be lowered from 109 to 100mg/dl. Other researchers suggest that optimal fasting glucose levels are 85mg/dl and under.
All foods eventually turn to glucose (with the excess stored as glycogen) which then stimulates the release of insulin. So eating in general will stimulate insulin which allows your cells to obtain whatever nutrients may be present in the foods you eat. However, insulin stimulants can result in an artificially rapid and excessive rise in insulin, causing a whole series of unfavorable metabolic occurances including low serotonin, increased adrenaline output, and initiation of the inflammatory response created by a disturbed biological terrain. Worse yet, all stimulants eventually become depressants.
Chronic overuse of insulin stimulants and most especially chronic overeating of unfavorable (and to a lesser extent favorable) carbohydrates will force your filled-up cells to gradually shut down their receptor sites. This results in chronic high levels of circulating insulin, and you are then primed to store any excess fuel you consume as fat - and to keep the fat you do have. In this state, your body will still be working to store fat even if you severely restrict calories. Severely restricting calories in this situation may force your body to break down muscle tissue as fuel, even while it is primed to store fat.
While exercise helps burn "sugars" that you may consume, it will not prevent the excess insulin release that occurs from excess sugar or other insulin stimulants. The resulting insulin spike will then set off a multitude of chain reactions that disrupt all other hormones and biochemical cellular reactions. This is why all stimulants including excess carbohydrates actually work in the long term AGAINST a healthy, high performing metabolism.
Both toxic overload and nutritional deficiencies that arise from a variety of factors including nutritionless food (and which are only exacerbated by restricting calories to below maintenance level) further interfere with your body's ability to maintain relatively balanced insulin/blood glucose levels. This is partly why it is that the older we get the more insulin resistant we become.
In addition to being the primary hormone that stimulates fat storage in the body, insulin is also known as the governor hormone. This is because when you knock insulin out of balance a whole cascade of other hormones and hormone-like chemicals are affected, and this can create a vicious downward spiraling of emotional and physical well-being. The first thing that happens when too much glucose enters your bloodstream (whether or not your receptor cells have become insulin resistant) is that your pancreas secretes extra insulin to help deal with the overload.
Over time your pancreas may become oversensitized to this excess glucose and overproduce insulin - which then prompts the removal of too much glucose or sugar from your bloodstream, causing your blood sugar to fall below normal levels. This may result in headaches, irritability, anxiety, fearfulness, dizziness, confusion, fatigue, poor coordination and the inability to concentrate. In this state, you may even find yourself uncharacteristically feeling and behaving in antisocial ways. (As shown on another page there are many other long term signs of insulin/blood sugar imbalance.)
This abnormally low blood sugar - or fluctuating blood sugar - then creates physical as well as emotional stress, which then prompts the pituitary to release a hormone which in turn stimulates the adrenals to secrete adrenaline and other stress-related hormones. This in turn prompts the liver to release "emergency sugar" or glycogen in order to prevent further insulin shock. All of this may then cause you to feel weak, shaky, or experience rapid heartbeat.
When enough damage has been done to your body's various control mechanisms, blood sugar may even drop after consuming high glycemic carbohydrates. And you may experience more symptoms more often. This is because your adrenals and your pancreas have become locked in a battle with each other to maintain insulin/blood sugar balance, and other body systems have been enlisted as assistants in the struggle to keep you functioning and alive. At the same time these glands are also slowly losing their ability to function.
Thus insulin stimulants of all kinds work to increase stress levels which then leads to raised adrenaline levels. Reactive hypoglycemia is actually due not to low blood sugar, but rising adrenaline levels. Symptoms of rising adrenaline include nausea, shakiness, clamminess, sweating, lightheadedness, irritabiltiy, racing heart, anxiety and carbohydrate craving.
Note that adrenaline is also a protein utilizing hormone, which means that, in a “high insulin, high stress” state, YOU ARE STORING FAT AND BURNING MUSCLE - and ultimately losing bones, ligaments and cartilage too!!
In addition, whenever insulin is raised too high or too quickly (as occurs when eating high glycemic carbs or simply chronically over eating carbs) it causes an excessive rush of serotonin to be released from the storage supply in your brain. This rush can cause TEMPORARY although sometimes subtle improvements in mood and even performance but OVER TIME it causes increasingly rapid drops in serotonin levels and steadily increased cravings for more stimulants.
This is how we become addicted to seemingly harmless substances, which over time can lead to even more unpleasant symptoms stemming from rapidly fluctuating levels of the brain chemical known as serotonin.
Rapidly fluctuating levels of serotonin may cause feelings of anxiety, agitation, inability to focus or concentrate, abrupt sleep disturbances, and even rage. Steady low serotonin levels causes feelings of apathy, lethargy, depression, loss of interest in life, decreased memory and chronic insomnia. Along the way you may also experience chronic body pain, headaches, and digestive disturbances. (And there are many other long term signs of insulin/blood sugar imbalance.)
So, to summarize:
ELEVATED INSULIN INCREASES INFLAMMATORY RESPONSE.
INSULIN STIMULANTS CREATE EXTREME DEMANDS ON YOUR BODY'S NUTRIENT STORES.