How does sugar impact your metabolism? What exactly is glucose and what is blood sugar regulation? How does the ketogenic diet affect your blood sugar? What happens when you consume too much glucose?
What is Glucose?
Glucose is a monosaccharide — the simplest of carbohydrates with only one sugar. Other monosaccharides are fructose and ribose. You consume glucose in foods like bread, fruits, and vegetables.
Your body uses glucose for energy and when glucose or blood sugar levels are regulated, your bodily processes run smoothly. When blood sugar levels are out of whack, you can run into health problems.
How is Glucose Processed in the Body?
Your pancreas is an organ that produces the insulin hormone. Insulin is integral to how your body deals with glucose. Your liver is another important organ when it comes to sugar control and your liver also helps store glucose and make glucose when necessary.
When you eat, your body gets to work to process the glucose right away. Enzymes begin the breakdown process and your pancreas releases insulin to help deal with the rising blood sugar level and transport glucose to your cells where it can be used as energy or stored for later use. Insulin binds to insulin receptors and signals for glucose uptake in the cell. Glucose can’t enter the cell to be used as energy without the insulin hormone.
Insulin is also called the fat-storage hormone because the presence of insulin retains stored body fat and drives dietary fat into storage. Insulin signaling and production are complex and insulin isn’t inherently bad, but chronically elevated levels of
insulin commonly seen in our modern society can have negative health effects . Lowering your carbohydrate intake helps reduce the need for insulin.
Consuming Too Much Glucose & Blood Sugar Regulation
Especially high glucose levels in the blood are unhealthy. There’s some debate around the exact numbers that are optimal, but according to the American Diabetes Association, a healthy blood sugar range before eating is 90-130 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).
After about an hour or two, it should be below 180 mg/dL. In general, a glucose level is considered to be low if it’s under 70 mg/dL.
Certain other factors might also increase blood sugar levels, such as stress and some illnesses. One of the biggest and most influential factors affecting your blood sugar is your consumption of glucose.
When you consume too much glucose, your pancreas has to respond with enough insulin to prevent your blood sugar from spiking to dangerous levels. Eventually, after repetitive, excessive glucose consumption for some time, your cells become ‘insulin resistant’ and can’t properly function to store and use glucose.
What is Insulin Resistance?
Imagine it like someone shouting loudly in your ears over and over again until eventually, you place your hands over your ears, and you can’t hear the shouting properly anymore. This is what happens with insulin, insulin signaling, and insulin receptors on the cells.
With insulin resistance, glucose isn’t taken into the cells as sufficiently as it should be. This leaves excess glucose floating in the bloodstream and higher blood glucose levels. To make matters worse, the pancreas might over secrete insulin to compensate for the high glucose levels. Over time, this can wear out the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas.
If your pancreas isn’t functioning correctly, this can lead to conditions like insulin resistance and diabetes. One way diabetes occurs is when the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin to handle the rising blood sugar [2,3].
Symptoms of insulin resistance include increased hunger and thirst, increased urinary output, and lethargy. If you think you have insulin resistance, you should see a doctor to test for diabetes and discuss healthy lifestyle changes to improve your metabolic health. You could even find a keto doctor with our keto-doctor finder! You might also want to test your blood sugar levels with a simple blood glucose test.
Has Going Keto Helped With Your Blood Sugar Regulation?
Have you used the ketogenic diet to help with insulin resistance, blood sugar regulation, diabetes, or metabolic syndrome?
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6) Westman, E. C., Tondt, J., Maguire, E., & Yancy Jr, W. S. (2018). Implementing a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet to manage type 2 diabetes mellitus. Expert Review of Endocrinology & Metabolism, 13(5), 263-272. DOI: 10.1080/17446651.2018.1523713
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Chelsea Malone works as a researcher in the field of health and performance supplementation. She contributes science-based articles and information to Ketogenic.com. She received her Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Central Florida and her Master of Science in Medical Sciences from the University of South Florida. Her specialties are in biochemistry, immunology, and pathophysiology. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, traveling, hiking, and reading.