Dr. Sweet Jimmy, why are things that cause our blood sugar to rise bad? Great question. We want to try to eat in a way that keeps blood sugar levels low, so that we do not cause excessive insulin production. Rises in blood sugar or blood glucose (we use these terms interchangeably) cause a host of bad things to happen in your body. High blood glucose levels are toxic and your body does its best to reduce this toxin in your blood the through release of insulin. Diabetics have trouble reducing their blood glucose and this can cause potentially life threatening conditions**. This graph below represents what happens to your glucose levels and insulin when you eat high-carb-low-fat-foods like bagels, shown in red and when you eat low-carb-high-fat-foods like bacon.
As you can see in the above graph, insulin lowers the blood levels of glucose by storing it in the form of fat on our asses, thighs, bellies, internal organs, and chins.
But wait, it gets worse! Insulin pushes blood glucose levels down so low that the body sends hunger signals to the brain. These hunger signals grow worse until we eat again, even though our body has received more than enough calories and even stored some away for later use. If we listen to our hungry bellies and hormones and continue to eat foods that cause blood sugar elevation, then the cycle continues to repeat itself. We eat, we store fat, we get hungry and then we eat and store fat and eventually we feel regret which in my case leads to depression and online shopping. This is an example of unhealthy coping. I previously used interpretive dance as a means to cope with these issues but was forced to give it up because the rage filled, overtly sexual nature of my performances was too disturbing for my audiences. Also, I was banned from the community performing arts center. If this eating cycle describes you, then you understand my rage.
Finally, if you are a diabetic or someone who has high levels of insulin, fasting (extended periods of not eating) will not be a successful weight loss strategy because insulin blocks fat burning. Instead, people with high insulin who stop eating will go into the dreaded “starvation mode” where their metabolism slows, hunger peaks, and energy sucks. This starvation mode is why many traditional dieters eating a low fat, high carb diet, will fail to lose weight and feel miserable in the process.
More bad news about insulin and high blood sugar…Insulin is also a kind growth hormone. One type of cells that love growth hormone are cancer cells. Increased levels of insulin or other growth hormones seem to increase the growth and aggression of cancer cells, thus making increased insulin levels “carcinogenic” (pro cancer). This is why diabetics are far more likely to get many different types of cancer. When we want to find cancer in the body, we give people sugar that lights up on a “PET Scan” (see below image)and the sugar naturally goes to the cancer, because cancers are such voracious consumers of sugar. If you ask me, you have to be a real dick to be pro-cancer, while also causing diabetes and obesity. Insulin is a dick. That should have been the name of this article, but I digress.
But wait there is still more bad news… When scientists are trying to grow bacteria in a lab, guess what they feed the bacteria to grow? If you guessed glucose, you get a gold star. This is why poorly controlled diabetics and people with higher blood glucose levels are more susceptible to infections. They’re blood is a breeding ground for bacteria. In a study I just made up, people who ate low carb diets reduced their chance of getting sick by 75%. As physicians, we consider diabetics to be “immunocompromised” when we take care of them in the hospital and they should get extra immunizations to protect their weakened immune system. As a doctor, I am around sick people almost every day and haven’t had any non-alcohol related illnesses since 2011 and I credit my low blood sugar levels for this.
So what foods do we eat to avoid all this bad news and keep our BS low? Here’s a good place to start. Naughty and Nice List for my buddy Rich.
If you want to watch a great Ted Talk from a different doctor that I just found that confirms everything I just wrote essentially. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=da1vvigy5tQ&spfreload=10
**DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis) and HHS (hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state) are life threatening complications of diabetes and occur when blood glucose levels get way too high.