Elevated Blood Sugar Leads to Progressive Problems

When you see your doctor for a physical, you generally undergo blood work, typically including a fasting blood sugar test. If your blood sugar level is between 110 or 120, you may be told that it is a little high, but you do not have Prediabetes or Diabetes yet. Unfortunately and unbeknownst to you, damage is already occurring in your system at blood sugar levels well below what is now considered a pre-disease or disease state such as Diabetes. It is imperative for you to know what is occurring and why you need to take a closer look at your blood sugar level. Keep in mind all of the following can happen regardless of whether you’ve been told your blood sugar levels are not a problem, since clinical studies and autopsies show damage occurs at 100 mg/dl, much earlier than anyone thought. 

Elevated blood sugar causes unique problems that affect the entire body. To understand what can happen and how soon problems begin, we need know a little about the hormone insulin. 

UNDERSTANDING THE ROLES OF INSULIN AND GLUCAGON IN THE BODY

Your body is programmed to keep blood sugar levels in a narrow range, regardless of what you eat. Normally for most people, this level falls between 70 and 110. However, the laboratory normal range usually spans 65 to 99. That is not really a lot of sugar in your bloodstream. For a person weighing about 150 pounds, we are talking about less than 1/6th of an ounce. In actuality, fasting blood sugar should ideally run between 80 and 85. Glucose tolerance tests are a more accurate indicator and should not exceed 120 at two hours from the start of the test; however, this test is not generally performed. 

Your body is equipped with a very effective system for maintaining this narrow range, beginning in the pancreas. When you eat a meal high in sugar (and this includes certain carbohydrates, not just sugar) and blood sugar levels rise, Beta cells, in an area of the pancreas called the Islets of Langerhans, quickly release the hormone insulin in response. This is the body’s attempt to keep blood sugar in balance, and occurs with extraordinary speed. The blood stream quickly carries the insulin to all the cells in the body, where the insulin triggers receptor sites on the cell walls to allow the sugar to pass into the cell to be converted to energy. If you eat more sugar than is needed for energy, it is stored as glycogen, mostly in the liver, but some is also stored in the muscles. 

Once the blood sugar levels normalize, the Beta cells stop producing insulin as the levels have stabilized. 

However, if your blood sugar starts to drop, then the Alpha cells in your pancreas release the other hormone, Glucagon, which triggers the liver and muscles to release the stored sugar (glycogen). Perhaps you have heard of long distance runners or tri-athletes practice “carb loading” - meaning they are trying to fill their liver and muscles with this stored sugar (glycogen) for energy. 

So far, everything is working fine in the body. But in certain conditions, the insulin does not pass easily through the cell walls, prompting the Beta cells to step up insulin production, bombarding the cells to try to get the sugar into them for energy and balance the blood sugar levels. 

Here are the top reasons for cell walls and receptor cells resisting insulin to promote the passage of sugar into the cells, with #1 and #2 being the most common: 

  1. Too much sugar/simple carbohydrates in the diet for a prolonged period of time, triggering too much insulin release; this can damage the receptor cells. (It is no coincidence that Diabetes was not much of an issue until processed and refined foods became more prevalent in the country.)
  2. Too many trans fats and saturated fats, which can coat the cells and interfere with insulin effectiveness. (Trans fats have now been outlawed in restaurants in some states, but are still in many foods.) Here again, Diabetes was not much of an issue until trans fats, like margarine, were introduced to the country.
  3. Lack of the 46 essential nutrients that all cells must ingest to function as designed. These must come from your diet or the supplements you take. Deficits in any of the 46 essentials can cause a disease state in the body. (For high-quality vitamins, consider Essential Vitamins Plus carried by Enerex USA, the best on the market.)
  4. Genes that help regulate insulin may be damaged from toxins, metals, heredity, or other factors.
  5. Prolonged periods of stress - stress shuts down insulin, which in turn quickly elevates blood sugar levels to make energy more available in times of need. The insulin production in turn spikes afterward to bring the elevated sugar back down to normal.
  6. A society in which many occupations have become dependent on technology and computers, generally seated positions, decreasing exercise throughout the day, and thus severely reducing use of stored calories. 

As a result of this cell receptor malfunction, the cells in the body become resistant to the insulin being produced and so extra insulin levels must be continually excreted to force the sugar into the cells. This is the beginning of some other problems. 

If fat cells develop insulin resistance, they release triglycerides into the blood stream. What are triglycerides made of? Glucose (sugar), fatty acids, and water. So your free fatty acid level rises in your blood stream, one of the warning signals of the Metabolic Syndrome (increased risk for heart disease). Did you ever think that the fatty acid problem in your blood stream could be related to too much blood sugar?  

The increased insulin resistance in the liver and muscle cells means that they no longer store as much glucose, which in turn means that more sugar is in the blood stream. 

Slightly elevated blood sugar levels over 100 is the point where some of the Beta cells begin to be damaged. Prolonged blood sugar over 110 causes damage to your retina. 

As your blood sugar continues to rise, your pancreas goes into overdrive to produce more insulin in an attempt to bring your blood sugar back into balance; the more insulin stays at an elevated level, the more Beta cells sustain damaged (burnt out). By the time you are called a diabetic, you may have lost 40% of your Beta cells. Therefore, you have to deal with blood sugar issues while they are still reversible. 

Now the body is in a position of having higher than normal blood sugar, plus higher than normal insulin levels. Both of these cause the problems listed below, and yet at this point you are still not classified as having Diabetes, since these conditions are occurring with blood sugar levels under 140, before you even have Prediabetes. 

Elevated insulin is tied to the following:

  • Impaired Fat Burning - causing weight gain and the accumulation and storage of fat
  • Damage to the kidneys
  • Damage to the arterials walls - causing atherosclerosis
  • Increased cholesterol and triglyceride levels - exposing you to the risk of heart disease and stroke
  • High Blood pressure and heart disease
  • Depletion of essential nutrients - leading to vitamin and mineral deficiencies

Elevated insulin will last in the body as long as the sugar remains too high and as long as you have enough functioning Beta cells to produce the insulin. The production will slow over time as the Beta cells are damaged or become dormant. 

CASCADING EFFECTS OF ELEVATED BLOOD SUGAR 

Since your body knows that elevated blood sugar causes severe damage to organs, it tries to minimize the damage by taking defensive action. As sugar rises, the small blood vessels start to narrow, thus reducing the flow of sugar getting to the organs. The higher the blood sugar, the more the blood vessels narrow. Unfortunately this impairs circulation, and reduces the amount of nutrients and oxygen that get to the organs and nerves of the body, as well as their ability to carry away cellular waste. This begins to damage cells in the small nerves of the hands and feet (and explains why you might have tingling, pain, or cold hands and feet). The kidneys and other organs begin to show some damage as well. As much as 40% of your Beta cells can be destroyed in as little as 2 years with elevated blood sugar, before you are even deemed a Diabetic. 

With restricted blood flow, wounds do not heal as well and infections may become an issue. The sugar also sticks to the proteins that are needed for construction of quality collagen essential for the repair and building of cells. 

So now you have a cycle occurring where the body is having a very difficult time balancing blood sugar. Damage is occurring to not only the Pancreas, which is responsible for balancing the blood sugar, but also to major organs and your nervous system. Unless you manage your blood sugar, then the cycle will continue with more damage and more Beta cells destroyed, until you finally reach the 200 mg/dl blood sugar level, and at that point are officially labeled a diabetic. Of course, the fact that you insurance rates and medical costs will skyrocket, or worse, you may not even qualify for insurance, may be the least of your worries. 

Those who finally make it to full-blown Diabetes are prone to severe complications and will likely experience a shorter life span that may include severe pain. You can also expect to dramatically increase your risk of the following: 

  • Amputation
  • Blindness
  • Kidney failure and possible need for dialysis
  • Heart Disease and hardening of the arteries
  • Early Death

This disease is already epidemic:

  • 40% of people over 20 years old have some degree of blood sugar problems or glucose intolerance.
  • 75% of the elderly have the problem.
  • One in 3 of our school children is expected to develop full diabetes and, based on current ratios, nearly all of them will develop glucose intolerance. 

Ultimately, the question now is….do you really want to experience a life of pain and diminished capabilities? True - the medical world can keep you alive with drugs. But what kind of life is that?

Be smart. Start taking care of yourself now with exercise and better diet to help metabolize the blood sugar. Supplement your new healthy regime with Blood Sugar Control to help you with blood sugar and fat metabolism. Don’t wait….start a new program today.