Hyperinsulinemia & You

Hyperinsulinemia & You

Hyperinsulinemia is to Blame…

Why is having too much insulin in your body (hyperinsulinemia) a bad thing?

Have you ever heard of heart disease? What about neuropathy? Diabetes? Cancer? Fatty liver? Osteoporosis?

==> These are only some of the diseases insulin plays a part in…

The number of complications that arise from hyperinsulinemia is enormous. Scary, really.

What’s even more scary? Mainstream researchers are not really l ooking into this as the true cause of all our modern health problems.

Hyperinsulinemia pathways

People seem to be more concerned with things like cholesterol and sodium… Which is a debate for another time.

Today, we focus mainly on the problems associated with high insulin levels. Before getting into the juicy details, we (with the help of the researcher) uncovered another piece of the puzzle linking insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia.

The article for this week boils down much of the research out there on hyperinsulinemia.

Yes, it is essentially review article on the condition. These are especially useful if you want to gain insight without having to read every piece of research.

Insulin is secreted in the blood when you metabolize glucose (carbohydrate).[1 , 2]

Let’s take a look at the implication of over-expression of this delicate process. Heads up, it’s not very pretty..

Summary of the Article

  1. Hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance and closely tied together.
    1. It is unknown which one triggers the other.
  2. Many diseases come as a result of hyperinsulinemia.
    1. Either direct mechanisms or indirectly through epidemiological studies.
  3. There are 5 main pathways by which these diseases occur.
    1. ROS production, IGF-1, hyperglycemia, hypertriglyceridemia, adipose tissue hormone imbalance

That sounds like quite the mouthful! The main thing to take away is the hyperinulinemia leads to other disease. Thus arises yet another connect between diabetes and many of the common disease diabetics share.


Find this week’s research article below! Follow us along in it, download it, or just take a look. It’s great to have a resource like this.

==> Hyperinsulinemia: A unifying theory of chronic disease? – conducted by Dr. Katerine Crofts in New Zealand.[3]

[Click here to get the file]

Is there really one common avenue to a whole array of diseases?

This might be the most important question asked in a blog post.

We are not the only ones asking this question either. Doctors (past, present, and future) are starting to come around on this idea.

Let’s take a look the facts:

» Carbohydrates release glucose when consumed.[4]

» Glucose metabolism causes insulin secretion.[1 , 2]

» Over production of insulin is known as hyperinsulinemia.[3]

This article took this logic one step further and looked at the results of hyperinsulinemia.

The researchers conducted a large analysis on the available literature on the topic. It mainly included epidemiological studies with commentary on possible mechanisms of action.

They found that insulin is involved in many disease pathways such as:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cancer
  • Alzheimer’s disease

For some of the diseases, the mechanisms are obvious, known, and direct. For others, it is uncertain. Ah, thus is the life of a scientist.

But at least that gives us further purpose.. To keep searching for the answers and to never be satisfied with not knowing.

Before we get too far into the article, let’s first take a look at some definitions. After all, that is how the article itself starts.

Insulin Resistance vs. Hyperinsulinemia

This is a very interesting and highly debated topic. We really don’t know which one precedes the other. They both seemingly occur simultaneously; they are so closely related. A real chicken and egg scenario.

Insulin resistance is the term used when your cells do not respond to insulin correctly. Something along the signaling pathway is broken.[5] (We will get into that “something” in a little bit.)

Insulin Resistance

Insulin is the hormone that allows for your cells to eat glucose. When the insulin pathway is impeded, you become glucose intolerant. You end up with hyperglycemia.[3]

When these problems arise (insulin resistance and hyperglycemia), your pancreas works to secrete more insulin. When this happens “too often”, it is known as hyperinsulinemia. You’ve got too much insulin floating around in your blood trying to put glucose in the cells.[6]

When this occurs, you are over-expressing the insulin receptors in the cells. This damages them and depletes the pool of activated ones faster than our cells can replenish them.[3]

See the problem here?? It’s a vicious cycle.

Insulin resistance  hyperinsulinemia

Dr. Joseph Kraft, who wrote the ever-famous Diabetes Epidemic & You, considers these things one and the same.[7]

The Intracellular Insulin Cascade

The pathway by which hyperinsulinemia causes insulin resistance (according to the article) is outlined below[3]:

  • Insulin binds to the insulin receptors on the cell’s surface.
  • This sends a signal to the GLUT4 transporter, which is what facilitates the uptake of glucose into the cell.
    • GLUT4 leaves its storage unit to go help glucose come in to be metabolized.
  • After it helps out, GLUT4 returns to its storage unit to “recover” and wait for another round.
  • When there is too much insulin in the blood, this cascade happens at too fast of a pace for the GLUT4 to be replenished
    • GLUT4 is being used at a faster rate than it recovers – due to its short half-life.
  • This is insulin resistance.

The full understanding of this pathway is not quite there yet. But they are not al one in this theory. According to Watson and Pessin from the University of Iowa:

“[T]he complexity of these regulatory processes provides numerous potential targets that may be defective and eventually result in peripheral tissue insulin resistance and possibly diabetes.”[8

Mechanistic Diseases

Ha, what do we even mean by that? It is our fancy term for the diseases that have an understood pathway that stem from hyperinsulinemia.

The mechanism is mostly known. These diseases are a little more obvious to the world of science, so we won’t focus too much time on explaining them. They are all problems of metabolism and resistance to utilizing glucose (hyperglycemia and insulin resistance).

(Actually every other disease associated with hyperinsulinemia is also metabolic in nature, but we are trying to keep things “easy” by focusing on the more obvious ones.)

The mechanistic diseases:

  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Gestational Diabetes
  • Metabolic Syndrome
  • Chronic Inflammation


These are the major categories of disease that have a mechanism that “makes sense.” It is our commentary here. The authors did not explicitly state it in this way, but they did say these have a confirmed mechanism. We trust they would agree with our categorization.

They also included cardiovascular disease in this list because it is so prevelant in people suffering from the other diseases.

It seems to always be along for the ride. And this mechanism is pretty well known, but not everyone agrees with it. Thus, we left it off the list.

(From our research, we actually agree that cardiovascular disease occurs through hyperinsulinemia, but we want to save that for a separate blog post..)

Check out the picture of Table 1 (below the next sections) for a full list of the diseases and mechanisms. You can also check the references they list if you are following along in the article! Cross-referencing at its finest.

Associational Diseases

Again, we have one of our fancy (possibly made-up) terms here. These are a list of the diseases that are associated with hyperinsulinemia.

Those would be associated through epidemiological studies. Pretty much, it just means there is research showing correlations of the disease with hyperinsulinemia in large samples of populations.

Correlation, not necessarily causation..

But what the researchers did was confirm possible mechanisms with available literature. These are a little more new to the world, so they are not quite accepted as fact (yet).

We included diseases into this category if their mechanism isn’t as striaght-forward or well known. Again, this is our own judgement – but our goal is to keep the same spirit as the original researchers. We believe they would agree with our categorization.

The diseases of association:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Breast Cancer
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Retinopathy
  • Neuropathy


All of these diseases are related to the problem of hyperinsulinemia through several different pathways. The researchers focused on five as the most logical ones. We go through a summary of each one in the next section.

Possible Mechanisms

There are so many ways by which hyperinsulinemia leads to disease. Let’s take a look at the 5 major ones the researchers gave commentary on.

1) Reactive oxidative species (ROS): hyperinsulinemia is directly associated with ROS production, but the reason for this is not fully understood.

==> What is understood: ROS production leads to a great amount of damage to DNA and mitochondrial membranes (polyunsaturated fats being most susceptible). Additionally, the same “over-nutrition” that possibly causes ROS production and hyperinsulinemia indirectly causes glycation end-products.

==> Advanced glycation end-products also bad and have their own diabetes associated complications.[9] But we won’t go into too much detail right now.

2) Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF-1): Insulin and IGF-1 both can stimulate cell growth. More importantly though, they have been shown to stimulate cancer cell growth significantly.[10]

3) Hyperglycemia: having high blood sugars allows cancers to grow faster than normal. They have a tendency of extremely high glucose uptake.[10] Additionally, it also increases blood coagulability, which may lead to blood clots.[11]

4) Higher triglyceride production: insulin has been known to be directly related to higher triglycerides in your body.[12] It appears as if this stems from speculation and more epidemiological studies. But nonetheless, the correlation is there.

5) Hormone imbalance from adiposity: Hyperinsulinemia increases the mass of your adipose tissue.[13] But it also indirectly contributes to less glucose uptake into these tissue. This leads to a decrease in leptin secretion. Leptin is the hormone that tells your brain you don’t need more food.

==> Additionally, the tissue is not as able to lock down the free fatty acids floating around in your blood. Thus, they gather in other parts of the body.

Okay, so that was a very quick overview of how these disease states possibly occur. Really, the value of this research comes with the following list of each disease, the mechanism, and the references to which point to that. It is Table 1 from the article.

Table 1 from study (Crofts et al.)

Table 1 from study (Crofts et al.)

This is going to be a huge tool for you to carry around for your understanding of disease. We know how dense these articles can be – but summary diagrams such as the one given help simplify it.

If nothing else, take away the different diseases that arise from hyperinsulinemia. It is a highway that leads to other disease. Diabetes is not just “diabetes.”

It involves insulin and its many other disease pathways that follow..

Next time someone tells you that you need to eat most of your calories from whole grains, you might want to look them in the eye and ask, “Have you done the research?”


[1] Henquin JC. (2000). Triggering and amplifying pathways of regulation of insulin secretion by glucoseDiabetes 49(11):1751–1760.

[2] Straub SG, Sharp GWG. (2002). Glucose-stimulated signaling pathways in biphasic insulin secretionDiabetes / Metabolism Research and Reviews 18:451–463.

[3] Crofts C, Zinn C, Wheldon MC, Schofield G. (2016). Errata: Hyperinsulinemia: A unifying theory of chronic disease?Diabesity 2(2):19-29.

[4] Prentice W. (2018). [Online]. General Metabolism: Intro to the science of using fat as fuel. Beta BIOS. Available: https://betabios.com/debunked/saturated-fat/general-metabolism/. Accessed 25 Apr. 2018.

[5] Diabetes.co.uk. (2018). Insulin Resistance – Symptoms, Causes, Treatment. [Online]. Available: https://www.diabetes.co.uk/insulin-resistance.html. Accessed 24 Apr. 2018.

[6] Reaven GM. (1988). Role of insulin resistance in human diseaseNutrition 37(12):1595-1607.

[7] Kraft J. (2011). Diabetes epidemic & you. [Bloomington, Ind.]: Trafford Publishing.

[8] Watson RT, Pessin JE. (2001). Intracellular organization of insulin signaling and GLUT4 translocation. Recent Progress in Hormone Research 56:175-193.

[9] Singh R, Barden A, Mori T, Beilin L. (2001). Advanced glycation end-products: a review. Diabetologia 44:129-146.

[10] Giovannucci E, et al. (2010). Diabetes and Cancer: A Consensus Report. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians 60(4):207-221.

[11] Stegenga ME, et al. (2006). Hyperglycemia Stimulates Coagulation, Whereas Hyperinsulinemia Impairs Fibrinolysis in Healthy Humans. Diabetes 55(6):1807-1812.

[12] Olefsky JM, Farquhar JW, Reaven GM. (1974). Reappraisal of the role of insulin in hypertriglyceridemia. The American Journal of Medicine 57(4):551-560.

[13] Bugianesi E, McCullough AJ, Marchesini G. (2005). Insulin resistance: A metabolic pathway to chronic liver disease. Hepatology 42(5):987-1000.

6 Responses

  1. […] bit more about the role of hyperinsulinemia in diabetes. I have done a few blog posts in the past (check it out here), but it was good to catch up on the topic. It made me […]

  2. […] to high blood sugar and, consequently, hyperinsulinemia (which has it’s own problems – check out our previous blog post to find out more). This is a cycle scientists don’t understand quite yet. Which one precedes […]

  3. […] it.[8] If you are interested we also wrote about all the problems associated with hyperinsulinemia in this blog post. Also, this article mentions the life-shortening effects of the insulin receptor pathway. Eating […]

  4. […] the relationship and problems associated with hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance. You can check it out here if you are interested in the […]

  5. Deborah Hopper says:

    So I have type 2 diabetes and I take insulin injections,and this causes hyperinsulinema which creates all types of medical problems, so how can I get better. Thank you for sharing.

    • Hi Deborah! We are so glad you reached out! It is a very tricky subject – insulin injections and all. We think your taking insulin is going to harm you in the long run. But so will having high blood sugar (which is what you take the insulin for). It is such a trap the industry gets people into. This is not to scare you. You will be totally fine. Let’s just wean you off the insulin.

      The best solution:

      1) Reduce your carbohydrates — while increasing fat in your diet.
      2) Check your blood sugars regularly to see if you even need an insulin dose at the time.
      3) When you change your diet, your blood sugars will naturally be lower. Then you won’t need to inject insulin as often.
      4) See how you are feeling with any other medications you are on.
      5) Work with your doctor on lowering your insulin (or other meds) after you have tried the diet therapy out for yourself. (Honestly, you can just do it all yourself if you understand how to match your insulin to your blood sugar levels.)
      6) Reach out to us with ANY questions or concerns you have. We want to help you heal yourself.

Leave a Reply! We would love to hear your thoughts or questions!

%d bloggers like this: