Insulin and blood glucose levels

In order to understand how we react to sugar, we first need to understand how the hormone insulin works in our bodies.

Insulin and sugar intake

The glycaemic index of a product determines the effect it will have on your blood sugar level. Your blood sugar level represents the amount of glucose present in your blood stream at any given time. This is also where insulin takes to the chemical stage. Insulin is a hormone produced by beta cells in our pancreatic islets. This hormone, among a range of other things, is responsible for regulating our blood sugar. In other words, it serves a life/death type of function in our bodies. Cause if that glucose doesn’t get out of our blood streams, it can start to make a great big mess for us. Insulin works like a key to our liver, fat and skeletal muscle cells – it makes the cells take up glucose, thereby decreasing the amount of sugar in our blood stream.

Insulin and sugar in different people

Because the chemistry of insulin and the way it regulates our blood sugar is so complicated, the process also takes place differently in different people. The most obvious example is insulin in people with and without diabetes. In individuals with type 1 diabetes, the pancreas no longer produce insulin at all. Which is why type 1 diabetics need diabetes pills or insulin shots in order to regulate their blood sugar. People with type 2 diabetes produce insulin, but their bodies don’t respond well to it; the insulin isn’t able to do the job it’s supposed to do to full effect.

This also means that even in people who don’t have diabetes, the insulin production and the effect of insulin differs. Take me, for example. I don’t have diabetes. But I have tested for it several times, because the effect sugar has on my body is so substantial. Most probably, this means that insulin either isn’t secreted from my pancreatic islets fast enough, or the insulin ‘key’ doesn’t work optimally to the cells in my body. So there is no doubt, in my mind or in scientists’, that people react differently to sugar. Hormonal production and function is different in every single individual on the planet. And so the way you react to sugar might be completely different from how a friend reacts to it.

Sugar-free baking and blood sugar balance

What is for certain, though, is that the more sugar you eat, the more your blood sugar will spike. And the more insulin your body will need to regulate it back down to normal. If you have diabetes, or if you’re prone to spikes and drops in blood sugar, sugar-free baking is a good measure to avoid the hormonal rollercoaster. When a sugar substitute has a low glycaemic index, it won’t impact the sugar content in your blood stream as much as regular sugar does. And then you’re well on your way to a healthier hormonal balance – while still enjoying whichever treats you desire.

This article was written by Synne Victoria Guldahl, author of She shares her passion for sugar-free baking on her website and provides loads of inspiration on her social media.

Find her on twitter: @thesfbaker

Instagram: @thesugarfreebaker