Insulin regulates blood sugar, and insulin resistance predicts diabetes. Learn more about insulin’s function & the risk of high/low levels here.
What is Insulin?
Insulin can be fattening. It increases fat synthesis and inhibits the breakdown of fat tissue .
In fat tissue, insulin increases glucose uptake, which makes fat cells bigger .
Insulin plays a role in suppressing liver glucose excretion.
Insulin is also responsible for the stimulation of protein synthesis in muscles.
Benefits of Insulin
1) Lowers Blood Glucose
Insulin is responsible for lowering glucose and storing it in bodily tissues such as fat, muscle, and liver .
Lowered levels of insulin cause the liver to convert glycogen to glucose and excrete it into the blood .
Insulin also decreases the production of glucose from protein .
2) Nerves and Brain
In a literature review, insulin was shown to enter the brain through the BBB (blood brain barrier) and exert its effects via brain insulin receptors .
Insulin is one of the many factors that can stimulate nerve growth in test tubes .
In test tubes, insulin and the insulin growth factors promote the growth of the sciatic nerve in test tubes .
Insulin growth factor 2 plays a role in motor nerve regeneration in animals .
In Alzheimer and healthy subjects, insulin was able to enhance memory .
However, insulin increased a marker of Alzheimer’s (AB42) .
Insulin inhibits platelet formation via an increase of a specific compound (cGMP) .
In pig hearts, insulin is able to increase heart muscle contractibility .
Insulin forces artery wall muscles to relax, thereby increasing blood flow, especially in micro arteries. A lack of insulin reduces flow .
4) Builds Muscle
Muscles play a very large role in the utilization and metabolism of glucose mediated by insulin . Diabetics showed much less of an ability to utilize glucose in muscle tissue due to insulin resistance .
Insulin causes increased blood flow (dilation) to muscles through the nitric oxide pathway .
A higher level of triglycerides in muscle is correlated with lower insulin sensitivity .
Insulin: decreases protein degradation in muscles, increases protein synthesis in muscle and increases the transport of amino acids into tissues .
5) Increases Stomach Acidity
Insulin increases the secretion of hydrochloric acid by parietal cells in the stomach .
6) Helps Retain Minerals
In healthy individuals, insulin was able to decrease the amount of sodium secreted in the urine .
Insulin lowers blood potassium. It does this by forcing cells to absorb blood potassium .
In isolated bone creating cells (osteoblasts), insulin increased their activity in bone creation .
Negatives of Insulin
1) Weight, Fat Tissue
Insulin has mixed effects with regard to weight – it reduces appetite, but can increase fat mass.
Insulin is one of the big 4 hormones that determine weight .
Insulin puts glucose in your liver, muscle and fat cells .
In healthy men, insulin infusion decreased triglycerides by 22%, APOB by 32%, and free fatty acids by 85% .
Fat tissue has been shown to release hormones (adipokines) which may play a role in causing insulin resistance .
In-vitro, insulin stimulates the creation of fat tissue through the utilization of glucose .
In healthy men, elevated insulin levels were associated with greater amounts of fat around the organs (visceral fat) .
Fasting glucose, insulin, and the presence of insulin resistance were correlated with an increased risk of pancreatic cancer .
Hyperinsulinemia may be associated with an increased risk of colon cancer (correlation versus causation is an issue here) .
Factors That Modify Insulin Release
In a study of men and women, higher alcohol intake was associated with lower fasting insulin levels .
When the fiber is taken out of fruit (fruit juice) it causes a greater insulin spike .
In women, increased dietary fiber intake was associated with lower levels of fasting insulin .
Irregular Insulin Levels?
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