What Is Hyperinsulinism?

Simply put, hyperinsulinism is the condition that results from too much
insulin being produced by your body. It's easy to see how this might happen when
you realize that there's a relationship between the kinds of foods you eat and
the amount of insulin in your bloodstream.

Foods rich in carbohydrates-especially sugar, honey, milk and fruit, which
contain simple sugars, and refined carbohydrates such as flour, white rice and
potato starch-are readily absorbed through the stomach, so they speedily convert
to glucose. When these foods are eaten in excess, they require a lot of insulin
for transport.

Foods made of protein and fat, on the other hand, require little or no
insulin. (Protein in excess converts to glucose in the liver and requires some
insulin to transport it to the cells; fat requires essentially none.) And what
happens when there is too much insulin?

As an overweight person becomes heavier, insulin's effectiveness may decline.
The cells become desensitized to the action of insulin so it can no longer
effectively transport glucose to them. This is known in medical circles as
insulin resistance, which quickly leads to hyperinsulinism.

Numerous studies have shown that insulin resistance is more prevalent among
the obese, although even some individuals who appear slim and healthy may
actually be insulin resistant. What appears to happen is that the insulin
receptors on the surfaces of the body's cells are blocked, which in turn
prevents glucose from reaching the cells for energy use.

That's one reason overweight individuals may be tired much of the time. When
insulin is ineffective in taking glucose into the cells, the liver converts more
and more glucose to stored fat. Your body is, in fact, becoming a fat-producing
machine instead of an efficient energy-producing machine.

Your body's hormonal system is now in desperate straits. At this point,
insulin is being secreted more and more frequently to deal with high blood-sugar
levels, and it is doing its job less and less effectively. Which makes you crave
sweets and carbs, which compounds the problem in a vicious cycle.

In time, even the insulin receptors that convert glucose to fat start getting
worn out, forecasting diabetes.

Here are some further reasons why high insulin levels can lead to big

  • Insulin increases salt and water retention, a recipe for high blood
  • Insulin is directly involved in creating atherosclerotic plaques, which,
    if not controlled, can lead to heart disease.
  • High insulin levels have been shown to correlate with high levels of
    triglycerides and low levels of "good" HDL cholesterol.
  • High insulin levels correlate with increased risk of breast cancer and
    polycystic ovarian syndrome. (Conversely, the lower the levels of insulin,
    the better the survival rates for breast cancer.)

Obesity increases insulin resistance. This means that you can sharply reduce
your risk of blood-sugar disorders-and by extension, heart disease and other
ailments-by simply keeping your weight down and controlling carbohydrate intake.
Even if you have a hereditary predisposition to diabetes, you may be able to
stall or completely avoid its onset.