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Understanding how insulin resistance causes high blood pressure
Insulin is supposed to cause blood vessels to expand…… especially the blood vessels deep inside tissues, the official name for this process is capillary recruitment.
This is rather helpful, since insulin’s primary job, is to put away the groceries, after a visit to the food store. Big wide blood vessels make plopping the sugars and things that have just arrived, into hungry cells, a whole lot easier.
But, in someone who is insulin resistant – this vasodilation process, doesn’t happen.
Putting the groceries away
And, there is a delay in putting the groceries away.
Sugar levels rise, so do fat levels…………….
Since high sugar levels are especially bothersome – this causes trouble with a capital T.
But, big wide blood vessels can be problematic too.
The pressure is too low
There is only so much blood, whizzing around and if you divert the blood into every nook and cranny, the pressure in the system drops.
The same thing happens in bathrooms. I like to be time efficient in the bathroom, so will run the bath, and while it is filling up, brush my teeth. Well try to. If you’re running the hot water tap into the bath, all that comes out of the basin tap, is a dribble.
The pressure dropped…………..
Now, the easy fix in the bathroom for this situation – brush your teeth with the cold water tap.
But, in the body, a sudden drop of pressure could see you toppling over, because there is a problem with oxygen delivery.
So………… Mother Nature makes a plan.
Keeping tabs on the pressure
It turns out, she keeps tabs on the quantity and quality of the blood, via tiny little “bodies” located on the main blood vessels running into your head. “Bodies” is kind of a grand term for them, on the outside they look like little bumps.
But these bumps are packed full of nerve tissue.
They keep tabs on oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, as well as the pH of the blood and temperature.
Any anomaly in the numbers, sparks frantic activity.
They fire off signals via the carotid sinus nerve and THINGS HAPPEN.
Carotid bodies firing
The things that happen include
- Prompting you to breath “BETTER” and
- Squeezing the blood vessels throughout the body, so that they are a whole lot smaller.
Smaller blood vessels EVERYWHERE, bumps up blood pressure – returning things BACK TO NORMAL. In medical speak, this is referred to as vasoconstriction (blood vessel constriction) and sympathoexcitation (firing of sympathetic nerves) has happened.
Exactly how these little “bodies” do this tremendously important job, is still a little fuzzy.
Insulin triggers carotid bodies
A team of researchers from Portugal have found carotid bodies are sensitive to insulin. When insulin climbs, carotid bodies make things happen……
The happening lasts for a few hours.
This is great when insulin is putting away the groceries, in response to dinner, but………………..
Becomes problematic when insulin is high ALL THE TIME.
And it’s high all the time, when you’re insulin resistant.
NOTE : Insulin resistance is selective i.e. not all cells don’t respond to insulin appropriately, in insulin resistance, the power hungry cells, the muscle, liver and fat cells don’t respond. Carotid bodies DO RESPOND………….they’re NOT INSULIN RESISTANT !
Hyperinsulinemia keeps carotid bodies pinging
Morning, night and noon.
The body is permanently sympatho-excited.
Translated………….. blood vessels are smaller, less blood is flowing around and blood pressure is elevated. OUCH !
Which decreases insulin delivery……………..
Leading to increased INSULIN RESISTANCE !
And more insulin……
Snip, snip ….
The researchers confirmed, an over active carotid body is part of the problem in insulin resistance, by observing what happens when carotid bodies can’t do their job. Carotid body activity was “terminated’ by CUTTING the carotid sinus nerve (this is the nerve that fires off, when carotid bodies get excited). Ouch !
All the animal’s underwent surgery five days before going on diet.
Some had the snip (resection), others were just opened up, but the nerve was not actually cut (control).
No carotid body no problem
The team over fed the rats……….
Rats with carotid bodies, GOT FAT and developed the usual metabolic troubles associated with obesity. Rats without carotid bodies, were “healthy”
- They never put on weight
- Their blood pressure remained stable
- They remained insulin sensitive
Perfect health ? Not quite, without the carotid body, the animals are vulnerable to suffocating. You win some, you lose some.
A vicious cycle
This research confirms TOO MUCH INSULIN is a bad thing.
One of the reasons – TOO MUCH INSULIN, creates TOO MUCH sympathetic activity, leaving you living life in a state of STRESS ! And STRESS KILLS.
So, to create BETTER BODY CHEMISTRY, you need to REIN IN that INSULIN and BREATH BETTER !
Low grade inflammation, is responsible for the metabolic upheavals of insulin resistance. Putting the fire out, should be our body’s priority, but it’s not….
In the insulin resistant, its thought that insulin arrives at the cell’s glucose gate, but the gate doesn’t open. What if insulin never makes it to the gate ?
A special non-stick layer, known as the glycocalyx, prevents things from sticking to the sides of blood vessels. When it’s not there, atherosclerosis happens.