Insulin Resistance... The Legacy of Excess Sugars

It is well know that high sugar intake is a cause of tooth decay leading to various dental procedures such as amalgam fillings and root canals. Procedures that in themselves can cause their own problems. However sugars, especially simple sugars, are not only causing damage to your teeth. Regular high sugar intake is also responsible for insulin resistance, a condition in which normal amounts of insulin are inadequate to produce a normal insulin response from cells, especially liver, fat and muscle cells.

Insulin resistance occurs when your cells no longer respond normally to the insulin signal. This occurs as a result of too much sugar and insulin in your bloodstream. This means that your cells require more and more insulin to have the desired effect of feeding your cells with glucose.

When your body notices that sugar is elevated, it is a sign that you have more then you need, a common situation in our modern society, so insulin is released by the pancreas to take that sugar and store it as glycogen. Since your body can only store a small amount of glycogen, any excess sugar is then stored as saturated fat, leading to the accumulation of what is called visceral fat, in particular around the waist area. The more sugar you eat, the more insulin is produced and the more insulin is produced, the more liver, muscle and fat cells become increasingly resistant to insulin, thus reducing their utilisation of sugars and causing sugars to build up more into the blood, which in turn stimulate the pancreas to produce more insulin in an attempt to keep the blood sugars level normal. This vicious cycle can only stop by significantly reducing sugar intake.



People, especially those with insulin resistance, must shift their thinking regarding carbohydrates. Carbs must be categorized according to them being "fibre" carbs or "non-fibre" carbs. Non fibre carbs is anything processed like flour, cookies, bagels, some breads (white bread for example ), pasta, crackers, chips, and some cereals. Think of non-fibre carbs in terms of sugar. One slice of white bread is equivalent to one tablespoon of table sugar. One bagel is equivalent to 5 table spoons of sugar. Fibre carbs are found in vegetables.

Oral hygiene can only reduce bacterial plaque build-up on your teeth but cannot prevent bacterial growth due to dietary sugars and cannot prevent the other adverse effects of sugars on your health. High sugar intake will, for example, affect gastric acid production by inhibiting an hormone called gastrine and stimulate the intestinal fermentation associated with GI tract dysbiosis.


Controlling the level of blood sugars is only one of the many functions of insulin. Insulin also help your cells store magnesium and calcium. As the cells become increasingly more resistant to insulin their ability to store magnesium and calcium is decreased accordingly while sodium retention is increased. As a result of magnesium deficiency blood vessels have an increased tendency to constrict and when they do, your blood pressure tends to go up. Sodium retention causes fluid retention which can also cause high blood pressure. While many cells tend to become increasingly more resistant to insulin, others such as the cells lining your arteries are not, so they are sensitive to the increasing production of insulin. It is a really well known fact that insulin floating around in the blood causes plaque build-up. Insulin also causes the blood to clot more readily and cause conversion of macrophages into foam cells, which are the cells that accumulate the fatty deposit. So insulin can also be a cause of cardiovascular disease.

The liver is the primary organ that become insulin resistant and since insulin helps control the manufacture of cholesterol in the liver, an insulin resistant liver becomes less responsive. As the sex hormones are originally derived from cholesterol, research has shown that DHEA levels are directly related to insulin resistance. The more insulin resistant you are the lower your DHEA levels. The adverse effects of insulin resistance on DHEA can also be compounded by the presence of endocrine disruptors in the body.

Insulin also stimulates cell proliferation and division which is not desirable in cancer situations and insulin resistance has been associated with chronic stress.

Even subclinical ( that does not cause obvious symptoms ) insulin resistance can play a role in apparently unrelated symptoms and diseases, so frequently goes undiagnosed and untreated. Call the Centre to book a consultation with Dr. Jacques Imbeau if you think you may have a sugar related insulin resistance problem.

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