Sugar and Insulin
When we eat sugar it is absorbed into the body and makes its way to the bloodstream. The bloodstream then carries the sugar to the cells of the body. When a large amount of sugar is in the bloodstream, the body releases a large amount of insulin. This insulin drives sugar into the cells to be utilized for energy. After a long time of exposure to sugar the cells may become “resistant” to insulin.
The Effects of Sugar
If the cells do not accept insulin, sugar can build up in the bloodstream. High levels of sugar in the bloodstream are toxic to the body. High blood sugar will make changes in the body that make it more difficult for the arteries to open up and can increase the rate at which blood clots.
Sugar will also begin to combine with other substances in the blood, like protein and LDL cholesterol.
When sugar combines with proteins in the walls of the arteries, it can make the arteries more susceptible to atherosclerosis.
Blood Sugar and Your Cholesterol
If sugar combines with LDL cholesterol, it can cause it to become oxidized more easily. Oxidized LDL is much more dangerous than regular LDL and is more likely to build up in the arteries and cause atherosclerosis. LDL levels in diabetics are not that different from nondiabetics, but this oxidized form of LDL can play a greater role in the progression of heart disease.
Diabetics, those that have chronic high blood sugar, also tend to have low HDL “good” cholesterol and high triglycerides.
Part of the strategy to control your risk for heart disease should involve a restriction of foods that can spike blood sugar levels. We know candy, pop, and pasteries are not good for blood sugar, but refined flours can also have a negative effect on blood sugar. There are also many sources of hidden sugar in foods so make sure to check your labels.