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Blood Sugar & Insulin: The Essentials

Blood Sugar

You have approximately 5 liters of blood traveling around in your blood vessels and heart at any given moment. In these 5 liters of blood, you need only about one teaspoon of sugar for all of your regular activities. If you regularly have more than a teaspoon of sugar floating through your blood vessels, the excess sugar can slow down your circulation, which, over time, can cause all of the problems you would expect to have if you had thick maple syrup clogging up your blood vessels. This is essentially what happens when a person becomes diabetic.

In order to keep the amount of sugar floating through your blood vessels at around a teaspoon, your body releases insulin whenever you eat foods that result in sugar entering your bloodstream. Eating sugary foods, most sweeteners, grains, cookies, pastries, cakes, pasta, and starchy vegetables like potatoes all lead to a release of sugar into your bloodstream. Insulin works by stimulating your cells to sponge up this excess sugar out of your bloodstream. Once inside your cells, sugar is used for energy, with any excess amount being converted to fat tissue.

If you regularly eat sugary foods and too many processed carbohydrates, your body will have released so much insulin that it will begin to lose its sensitivity to insulin, which means that your cells won’t receive as strong a signal to sponge up excess sugar out of your blood. This will lead to excess sugar floating around your blood vessels and all the health problems that come with this scenario.

Although many doctors consider 110 - 120 mg/dL (6.1 - 6.7 mmol/L) as the upper range for a normal fasting blood sugar level, I am convinced that a healthy fasting blood sugar level should be in the range of 70 - 90 mg/dL (3.9 - 5 mmol/L).

You can get your fasting blood sugar/glucose test done at your doctor’s office, or with a home monitor, performed after at least six hours of fasting. The difference is that laboratories measure the sugar in a component of your blood called plasma, while home monitors measure the sugar in whole blood. It is believed that home monitors that measure sugar in whole blood give readings that can be around 15 percent less than plasma readings from laboratories. Some home monitors are calibrated to give plasma-equivalent readings. Regardless of what kind of home monitor you might use, it's handy to have an objective way to ensure that your food choices are keeping your fasting blood sugar level close to or in a healthy range.


If you have too much sugar floating around in your blood vessels, it is likely that you also have too much insulin traveling through your system as well. Even if your fasting blood sugar level is in a healthy range, it is possible that you have too much insulin floating through your vessels, particularly if you have high triglycerides and/or are overweight. Normal blood sugar and high blood insulin can be the result of your cells losing some sensitivity to insulin, which necessitates that your body releases extra insulin into your blood circulation in an attempt to stimulate your desensitized cells into sponging up excess sugar out of your blood circulation.

What's the problem with having too much insulin in your circulation?

Excess insulin is known to cause:

  • Weight gain, since insulin promotes the storage of fat

  • Lower cellular levels of magnesium, a mineral that is essential for keeping your blood vessels relaxed and your blood circulation efficient

  • An increase in sodium retention, which leads to holding excess water in your system, which causes high blood pressure

  • Increased amounts of inflammatory compounds in your blood, which can cause direct physical damage to your blood vessel walls and encourage the development of blood clots which can lead to heart attacks and respiratory failure

  • A reduction in HDL, an increase in undesirable small molecules of LDL, and an increase in triglycerides, all of which increase your risk for heart disease

  • Possibly a higher risk for cancer due to insulin's ability to contribute to cell proliferation

You can test your insulin level by asking your doctor or laboratory for a fasting insulin test. Less than 10 IU/mL is ideal. Anything over 10 IU/mL indicates that you are eating too many foods that are stimulating excess insulin release from your pancreas, paving the way to all of the negative health effects listed above.

What can you do with your food and lifestyle choices to support healthy blood sugar and insulin levels?

  1. Make non-starchy vegetables the foundation of your diet. Dark green leafy lettuce, tomatoes, celery, cucumber, cabbage, kale, Swiss chard, bok choy, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, and all unmentioned green vegetables are excellent choices.

  2. Reduce or eliminate your intake of sugar and all foods that contain sugar. Some of the most concentrated sources of sugar are soda, cookies, chocolate bars, donuts, pastries, ice cream, and ketchup.

  3. Reduce or eliminate your use of sweeteners like molasses, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, pasteurized/heated honey, and maple syrup.

  4. Limit intake of fruit juices. Even freshly squeezed fruit juice taken over the long term can lead to high blood sugar and insulin levels. If you want to taste fruit, eat whole fruit, not the juice. The fiber, vitamins, and minerals that come with whole fruit help to slow down the pace at which the natural sugars from fruit enter your bloodstream.

  5. Do activities and exercises that build or maintain your muscles. Muscle tissue acts as a storage site for extra sugar. The more muscle tissue you have, the better you can regulate your blood sugar and insulin levels.


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For the last couple of months I had been eating mostly fruit, as I had embarked on a "raw food journey" to heal some health ailments. About a week ago I noticed I had VERY frequent urination, and it was always clear (very odd for me), and I was always thirsty. I was also experiencing an irregular heartbeat and palpitations. After doing some research online, I realized I had a MAJOR overload of sugar. For some reason it had not occurred to me that fruit would cause this because "it's natural". So, 5 days ago I went the other extreme (pretty much no sugar, save the small amount in lemons and green vegetables), and I am already feeling much better. I've also added slow-cooked meats and small amounts of raw egg yolk. I'm beginning to wonder if sugar/insulin/candida have been my problems all along and if this one simple measure would have put me on the right path to health. Time will tell! Thanks Dr. Kim for this article. You have a way of making health issues easy to understand.

You better go to your pimary care doctor. Just because you stopped showing symtoms doesn't mean you're not still having sugar problems. Two hrs after a meal your sugar should be below 110. The symptoms you have are diabetes. I know, I had the same symptoms. Went to the doctor, they ran blood tests, results were that I'm diabetic. High sugar levels over a long period will cause permanent nerve damage, and damage to your eyes. That is something you don't want to mess with. Blindness by diabetes is the number 1 cause. Just because you limited sugar intake doesn't mean the problem went away - only your symptoms. Slight elevation of sugar levels will show no symtoms. But it will greatly damage your body and kill you. Get to a doctor now. I have friends that were on fruit diets and the sugar never bothered them, because they were not insulin resistant or had pancreas problems. Get to a doctor if you love your family, only a doctor can help you get it under control

The last thing I would do is go see a "traditional" doctor for diabetes; except for the actual diagnosis.

See "An Orthomolecular Approach to Diabetes" on Youtube.

Dr. Jul
ian Whitaker runs a clinic in California where his success is amazing at reversing diabetes.

Also see the documentary "Simply Raw - Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days".

There are many examples of clinics doing the same thing...just google or youtube "reversing diabetes"

Just my humble opinion,

I had the frequent urination and sugar taste constantly after anything sugary. Id have sugar highs and lows (extreme fatigue and weakness). My fasting glucose was 87 but at times has been in the 90s and most nurses and docs look at that as normal. Then I had insulin checked. It was 10.8 so the naturalpathic doc put me on metformin (1000 bid). He says I have some insulin resistance prohibiting me from loosing weight and may help fertility. I have lost 5lbs in two months without trying. I also have fertility problem which can be from other health issues. I don't fit the picture for many docs because I'm 30yrs, 155lb, 5'3. Unless you know my whole history you would think he was crazy. I encourage you to find the right who doesn't fit you into a box and one who listens to your symptoms...not just what you look like. Healthy eating is a great way to avoid medication and restore your bodies balance naturally.

Do you have polycystic ovary syndrome. I do and I have the same as you. Can't lose weight, high insulin, infertility. I see an endocrinologist and she has helped.

I tried to see one of this doctors and they don't diagnose only treat.

I never heard that type of doctor, never heard about insulin level either that they can test that. I have symptoms of low sugar. I will see that type of doctor that you are mentioning. Thanks.

Hi. I am a little confused & am hoping you can explain something to me. I have over the years always had high fasting insulin levels (between 40-45), but my fasting glucose levels have always been under 5.6. That is until about a month ago when my dr had me do a glucose tolerance test. Prior to taking the glucose my reading was 20. After giving me glucose to drink, the reading shot up to 23. My fasting insulin was 40. I have been put on some meds & have been monitoring my glucose levels at home (they ranging between 12.5 - 16.9). Now this is what I don't understand. How can BOTH my insulin & glucose be high?

Great question ...
both levels become elevated once you reach the stage of insulin RESISTANCE, but before you hit insulin DEPENDENT. When your cells are no longer responsive to the elevated amount of insulin in your blood ... that is increased to try to counteract the elevated glucose ... then both ranges will remain elevated.
People that have blood sugar issues that have NOT hit insulin resistance yet will have elevated levels of insulin but can have perfectly normal blood sugar levels because the insulin is still doing its job and driving insulin into the cells and taking it out of the bloodstream.
Hope this makes sense =)

My suggestion ... and many other functional medicine practitioners will recommend that with diet and lifestyle changes, and working with a qualified practitioner, that you can reverse your diabetic state. Medications never reverse diabetes ... but there is hope in eating well, moving more, and possibly addressing some underlying toxicity that can all lead to diabetes.


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