top of page

CHOLESTEROL and INSULIN: A Quick Intro

I've been on a bit of a deep dive lately into something that affects all of us; our cholesterol, triglycerides, insulin and overall metabolic health. It's like uncovering the secret life of our bodies, and I just had to share what I've found with you!


Cholesterol

Cholesterol: The Good, the Bad, and the Balancing Act

So, we've all heard about cholesterol, right? There's the "good" kind (HDL) and the "not-so-good" kind (LDL). But here's where it gets interesting—managing cholesterol isn't just about keeping those two in check. It turns out, there's another player in the game: triglycerides.


First off, let's break down cholesterol into two main types that you've probably heard about: LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein) and HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein). Think of LDL as the "luggage carrier" that transports cholesterol to your cells, which isn't a bad thing until there's too much of it, leading to buildup in your arteries. That's why LDL is often dubbed as "bad" cholesterol.

On the flip side, HDL is like the "cleanup crew." It picks up excess cholesterol and takes it back to the liver to be processed out of your body. More HDL means a cleaner, happier cardiovascular system, earning it the title of "good" cholesterol.


Triglycerides: The Unsung Hero (or Villain)

Triglycerides are a type of fat found in our blood. When we eat, our body converts any calories it doesn't need right away into triglycerides, storing them in fat cells. But here's the kicker: high levels of triglycerides can be a sign of other problems, like insulin resistance, especially when paired with low HDL cholesterol.


The Magic Ratio: HDL & Triglycerides

Now, onto something super interesting—the ratio between HDL and triglycerides. Some experts believe this ratio is a key factor in determining insulin resistance and other metabolic diseases. This is a far better test than a simple cholesterol test that your doctor typically requests that only looks at the total cholesterol number, which doesn't mean anything at all.


A high ratio (between HDL and triglycerides) could indicate an increased risk of insulin resistance, leading to metabolic issues down the line. It's like our bodies are trying to tell us something, and we need to listen up!


 

Insulin Resistance is when our cells start ignoring the signal insulin is trying to send out to let glucose into our cells for energy. This can lead to all sorts of complications, including type 2 diabetes. But here's the hopeful part: we're not powerless in this situation. Our diet and lifestyle choices have a huge impact on our metabolic health.

 

Insulin

The Role of Insulin

First up, insulin. This hormone, produced by the pancreas, acts as a key. Its main job? Unlocking our cells to allow glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream to enter, providing the energy our cells (more specifically our mitochondria) need to function. After we eat, our blood glucose levels rise, and that signals the pancreas to release insulin into the bloodstream.


Where Things Go Wrong

Insulin resistance happens when the cells in your muscles, fat, and liver start ignoring insulin's "open up" signal. Think of it as if the cells have changed the locks, and insulin's key no longer works as well. The pancreas, noticing that glucose isn't getting into the cells, tries to solve the problem by making more insulin. For a while, this extra insulin helps keep blood sugar levels in check. But over time, this workaround leads to higher and higher levels of insulin in the blood.


The Consequences

This ongoing battle has several consequences:

  • High Blood Sugar: Since glucose can't enter the cells as effectively, blood sugar levels remain higher than normal.

  • Overworked Pancreas: Constantly producing extra insulin puts a strain on the pancreas, and over time, it can't keep up. That's when blood sugar levels start to creep up into the pre-diabetes and diabetes range.

  • Increased Fat Storage: Insulin also signals the body to store fat. With higher insulin levels, the body stores more fat, particularly in the abdominal area, leading to weight gain and increasing the risk of metabolic syndrome.

  • Cardiovascular Risks: Insulin resistance is linked with other conditions like high blood pressure, high triglycerides, low HDL (good) cholesterol, and an increased risk of forming clots. This combo is rough on your arteries, raising the risk of heart disease and stroke.


The Silent Progression

One of the tricky things about insulin resistance is that it can silently progress over years without noticeable symptoms. It's often detected through blood tests that show elevated levels of glucose or insulin in the blood. The standard Fasting Blood Glucose test is not optimum because it only provides a snapshot of your glucose level at a single point in time, missing fluctuations throughout the day. Additionally, it doesn't measure insulin sensitivity or how your body processes sugar over a longer period, which are critical factors for assessing metabolic health and the risk of diabetes.


Managing Insulin Resistance

The good news is that insulin resistance can often be managed, and even reversed, with lifestyle changes:

  • Diet: Focusing on a balanced diet rich in fiber, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Minimizing, or better yet - avoiding processed foods, especially those high in sugars and refined carbs, can help manage blood sugar levels.

  • Exercise: Regular physical activity helps the body use insulin more efficiently. Muscle cells, in particular, use up a lot of glucose during exercise.

  • Weight Management: If overweight, losing even a small amount of weight can significantly improve insulin sensitivity.

  • Sleep and Stress: Getting enough sleep and managing stress levels can also positively affect insulin sensitivity.


Diet: Let's talk Fats & Fiber

The goal here isn't to cut out fat but to choose wisely:


  • Unsaturated Fats (think avocados, nuts, and olive oil) are your friends. They help lower bad cholesterol and are heart-healthy.

  • Saturated Fats (found in red meat and dairy) may not be the villain they were once thought to be and even have a place in a healthy diet.

  • Trans Fats are the real foes. Often hiding in processed foods, they increase bad cholesterol and decrease good cholesterol. Best to steer clear!

  • Fiber is basically a superhero when it comes to managing cholesterol and overall health. It helps slow down sugar absorption, keeping our insulin levels stable. Plus, it binds with cholesterol in our digestive system, literally carrying it out of our bodies.



EGGS: For years, eggs got a bad rap for their cholesterol content. But here's the twist: recent findings have shown that the cholesterol you eat doesn't have the evil impact on your blood cholesterol levels we once thought. In fact, eggs are now celebrated as a nutrient powerhouse, packed with high-quality protein and essential nutrients. So yes, you can enjoy your morning omelet guilt-free!

(and bacon too)


 

Wrapping It Up

So, what's the takeaway from all this? Our bodies are incredibly complex, but by understanding a bit more about how things like cholesterol, triglycerides, and insulin resistance work, we can make smarter choices for our health. And it's not about perfection—it's about balance and listening to our bodies.

Comments


EAT.png

Want more Tips & Exclusive Content? - Subscribe Now!

Thanks for submitting!

single turtle_edited.png
single turtle_edited.png
single turtle_edited.png
  • X
  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • YouTube NoBadBeachDays™
  • Pinterest

Transform
Your Life:
Make Small Changes, See Lasting Results

bottom of page