Why You Should Give Some Time Between Meals
by Sarica Cernohous
It is often suggested that people graze through the day, to keep the energy buoyed. While this will keep your blood sugar up, it will also keep your insulin up…and the combination of both for regular periods can be a contributor to cellular inflammation—and chronic disease patterns.
When we eat a meal, our pancreas releases insulin to handle the blood glucose that will be present due to the foods we’ve consumed. The pancreas—where insulin is produced by the pancreatic beta cells—works in two phases. In phase 1, insulin that has been produced and stored by the pancreas is released into the blood stream, and this insulin stays floating through the blood stream for about 2 to 3 hours after a given meal is consumed. In phase 2, the pancreas produces more insulin, stored and on the ready for the next meal.
But insulin is not the only hormone related to weight, satiety and body composition. Another big player is leptin—and receptors for this amazing hormone are also on the beta cells of the pancreas. In a body that is working efficiently and well, leptin should be increasing as we eat our meal, and in turn, a sense of satiety and pushing away from the table should be the norm. This rise should also be a cue to the pancreas to stop doling out insulin. It’s a lovely feedback system—when it works. But in a body that has a constant flow of insulin in the blood stream, this elegant feedback system loses its efficacy. In fact, elevated insulin can also lead to elevated leptin—and when this happens, the pattern of leptin resistance is further enhanced, which goes lock in step with metabolic syndrome, considered a precursor to Type 2 diabetes.
Similar to insulin, a constant presence of leptin appears to blunt its ability to be recognized by leptin receptors at the cellular level. And when the body doesn’t register that leptin is present—as happens when the receptors for the hormone are not working—this leads to uncontrolled eating. The cue to stop eating just doesn’t arise.
There is one additional hormone to consider as well—glucagon. This hormone works opposite insulin, directing the liver to release any stored glucose to maintain healthy blood sugar levels when we have not eaten for a few hours. Its presence is only found when there is no insulin roaming in the blood stream, and this is considered a period of time when someone is truly moving into a fat-burning mode. However, if someone is eating every 2 or 3 hours, glucagon never has an opportunity to present itself—and we will not have the fat-burning properties it offers. There are so many people with what is termed “fatty liver,” who don’t drink or use drugs (historical reasons for this pattern), and who can’t understand how they developed this issue. Eating frequently through the day can be a huge contributor to fatty liver, as the stored glucose will be converted to triglycerides and held in the liver—hence, fatty liver.
If you find that you are very shaky or irritable if you don’t eat every 2-3 hours, this is a very solid cue that you are in the throes of insulin resistance—and remember, where there is high insulin, there is also high leptin, and the combination of the two will keep your glucagon from appearing and the glucose from releasing from your liver. Snacking may make you feel better temporarily, but it will keep you in this incredibly damaging pattern.
With this design of our body, can you see where the grazing method of eating every 2 or 3 hours puts an incredible demand on the pancreatic beta cells, as they never get a break from producing insulin? This type of scenario is a fast-track to overstraining the pancreas–and can eventually lead to the development of Type 2 diabetes.
Originally appeared on NaturallyLivingToday.com. Reprinted with permission from author.