Understanding Insulin

Notes on the nature of insulin.

Source of Information

The following information comes from Chapter 2 of The Carbohydrate Addict’s Diet. For more information, the authors can be reached at:

Drs. Richard and Rachael Heller
Mt. Sinai School of Medicine
Box 1194
New York, New York 10029


pg. 38:

“The pancreas is an elongated narrow organ approximately the size of the human hand. Located behind the stomach, the pancreas plays an essential role in controlling the fuel that is made available to the cells of the body. It manages this fuel through the release of three hormones: insulin, glucagon, and somatostatin.“The insulin…binds with receptor sites on the membranes of the cells, increasing their ability to ‘transport’ the glucose from the blood to the interior of the cells.

This may explain Johanna Budwig’s contention that the “insulin resistance” characteristic of diabetes is not a glucose metabolism problem at all, but a problem of fatty acid metabolism. Johanna Budwig is a 7-time Nobel prize nominee for her work on the quantum physics of fatty acids. She makes her statement in her book, Flax Oil as a True Aid against Arthritis, Heart Infarction, Cancer, and Other Diseases (Alive, Vancouver, 1992). Her work focuses on the manner in which fatty acids combine with sulfur-containing proteins.

Erdmann points out that the trans fats found in partially hydrogenated oils and margarine take the place of CIS fats in cell walls and in other lipid structures. However, while CIS fats are active in the body, trans fats are not making them, in effect, a metabolic poison. Perhaps it is the accumulation of trans fats in the cell walls that produces insulin resistance, by preventing insulin-binding. It bears investigating. (Fats that Can Save Your Life, Progressive Health Publishing, Encinitas, 1990)pg. 39:

“The insulin also facilitates conversion of glucose to glycogen and triglycerides for storage in the liver. A second pancreatic hormone, glucagon….is called upon to break down the stored glycogen when energy is required….The role of the third pancreatic hormone, somatostatin, is not yet fully understood, but it is thought to play a role in regulating the production and release of both insulin and glucagon.“Insulin also acts directly on central nervous system regulators, serving as an intermediary to signal the need to eat or stop eating. Insulin keys the action of substances that function as regulators — norepinephrine, serotonin, and mesolimbic dopamine — in a complex way that is still not fully understood.

(It is noteworthy how much of the body’s complex mechanisms still eludes our understanding!)

Biphasic Release

pg. 39-40:

“It is important to understand that…the body releases insulin in two phases. Researchers call the nature of this process ‘biphasic’.“The first phase is termed the preload phase and begins within minutes of consuming carbohydrates. In this phase, the pancreas releases a fixed amount of insulin, regardless of how much carbohydrate is being consumed.at the time. The amount of insulin is determined by previous carbohydrate intake—that is, by the amount of carbohydrate eaten in the preceding meals. It doesn’t seem to matter if the insulin release is cued (by) one slice of cake or four—the initial phase of insulin release will be a set amount.

“Conversely, the second phase of the insulin release, which takes place about seventy-five to ninety minutes after eating, is dependent on how much carbohydrate is actually consumed at that meal….This phase adjusts insulin production and release to the needs of that particular meal. If the amount of carbohydrates consumed requires more than the initial quantity of insulin released, then a second measure of insulin will be issued.

(It seems clear that switching suddenly from a high-carb diet with little fiber or fat to slow the glycemic response to one that dramatically reduces both the amount of carbohydrate and its rate of entry into the blood stream could create transition difficulties for a day or two.)


Unfortunately, the authors did not provide individual references for the quoted material. So I’ve collected the references below that are likely to contain supporting data. Even the titles make interesting reading!

From Appendix II of The Carbohydrate Addict’s Diet:

Coulston A.M., G. C. Liu, and G. M. Raven (1983)
Plasma glucose, insulin and lipid responses to high-carbohydrate low-fat diets in normal humans. Metabolism, 32(1):52-56.
Darnell, J., H. Lodish, and D. Baltimore (1986), Molecular Cell Biology, New York: Freeman.

Garvey, W.T. (1989) Cellular and Molecular Pathogenesis of Insulin Resistance. In B. Draznin, S. Melmed, and D. LeRoth, eds., Insulin Action, vol. II. New York: Liss.

Jeanrenaud, B. (1979). Insulin and obesity. Diabetologia, 17:133-138.

Kanarek, R., R, Marks-Kaufman, and B. Lipcles (1980). Increased carbohydrate intake as a function of insulin administration in rats. Physiol. Behav. 25:779-782.

Laube, H. and E. F. Pfeifer (1978). Insulin secretion and nutritional factors. In: H. M. Katzen and R. J. Mahler, eds., Advances in Modern Nutrition: Diabetes, Obesity, and Vascular Disease, vol 2. New York: Wiley.

Lovett, D. and D. Booth (1970). Four effects of exogenous insulin on food intake. Quart. J. Exper. Psych. 22:406-419.

McLean, Baird I. and A. Howard (1969). The role of insulin in obesity. Obesity: Medical and Scientific Aspects. Livingstone, Edinburgh.

Porte, D. and S. C. Woods (1981). Regulation of food-intake and body-weight by insulin. Diveatologia 20:274-280.

Raizada, M. K., M. I. Phillips, D. LeRoith (1987). Insulin, Insulin-like Growth Factors, and Their Receptors in the Central Nervous System. New York: Plenum Press.

Rezek M., V. Havilcek, and K. R. Hughes (1978). Paradoxical stimulation of food intake by larger loads of glucose, fructose, and mannose: evidence for a positive-feedback effect. Physiol. Behav. 21:243-249.

Richter, C.P. (1942). Increased dextrose appetite of normal rats treated with insulin. Am J. Physiol. 135:781-787.

Rodin, J., J. Wack, E. Ferrannini, and R. DeForonzo (1985). Effect of insulin and glucose on feeding behavior. Metabolism 34(9):826-831.

Silverstone, T. and M. Besser (1971). Insulin, blood sugar, and hunger. Postgrad Med. J. 47:427-429 (suppl.).

Wardle, J. and H. Beinart (1981). Binge eating: A theoretical review. Brit. J. Clin. Psych. 20:97-109.

Werner, P. L. and J. P. Palmer (1978). Immunoreactive glucagon responses to oral glucose, insulin infusion and deprivation, and somatostatin in pancreatomized man. Diabetes 27:1005-1012.

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