How the liver causes high glucose levels

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When we think of high glucose levels and diabetes, people automatically jump to the big 3. Insulin, the pancreas and carbohydrates. Yet, did you know there is forth culprit which is just as responsible for increasing glucose levels?

The liver has a tremendous impact on glucose levels. In this video (click link if reading on email) I explain how the liver is responsible for causing hyerglycaemia in diabetes.

The liver and high glucose levels

The liver is responsible for controlling your internal supply of glucose. During periods between meals and overnight, the liver releases stored glucose (glycogen) into the blood to provide energy for the body.

When we eat food, insulin tells the liver to turn off our internal supply of glucose. This is because food will provide the energy for the time being until it is fully digested and absorbed.

In type 2 diabetes this system becomes compromised. Fat sits around the liver preventing insulin reaching the liver. As a result, the message gets lost and the liver continues to release glucose despite the fact glucose is also entering the body from eating.

This leads to a doubling effect where glucose from food and the liver both enter the body at the same time. As this process worsens, you will find your glucose levels start to rise.

What to do about this

The best thing to do is lose the fat around the liver. People with type 2 diabetes usually have some form of fatty liver. Often this is lifestyle related but not always. If you can change our diet to a more healthy eating plan and get active, this helps break up the fat.

Other causes include ageing and genetics but this doesn’t mean all hope is lost. If your glucose levels are running high the diet and exercise will still help.

You can also choose a lower carb diet to prevent adding extra glucose into your body on top of the glucose being released in the liver. To understand a lower carb diet read here.

The last thing you can do is to take medication. For example, Metformin may be one of the oldest diabetes medications but it remains one of the best. Not only does it improve insulin sensitivity but it also slows the release of glucose from the liver. It improve glucose levels and has good data for cardiovascular health. Medication is always option 2 but what your healthcare team doesn’t want to do is leave glucose levels running high for too long. This is why Metformin is usually started quite quickly.

For a more detailed explanation watch the video (click the link if reading on email).

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