As discussed two weeks ago, one of the symptoms of Syndrome X is hypertension (high blood pressure). This week I will explore the connection between blood pressure and insulin. People with insulin resistance, where sufficient insulin is produced but is unable to move glucose out of the blood into muscles, frequently develop hypertension.
High insulin levels stimulate the kidneys to retain sodium (and therefore fluid) and to excrete potassium, both factors known to increase blood pressure.
Insulin also increases movement of magnesium out of the blood and into the cells, lowering serum magnesium levels. Magnesium dilates smooth muscle (think artery walls), so lower levels will result in constriction of arteries, increasing blood pressure. Magnesium is also necessary for proper insulin receptor function so, as magnesium levels decline, insulin resistance increases even more.
Another way that insulin increases blood pressure is by stimulating the release of a hormone called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). This causes increased growth of smooth muscle cells of the arteries making them narrower and less elastic. VEGF is also implicated in angiogenesis – the growth of new blood vessels to feed tumors. And unfortunately the class of drugs called insulin receptor sensitizers used to correct the underlying problem of insulin resistance increases the stimulation of VEGF.
The most effective way I know to safely lower insulin levels and reduce insulin resistance is with the Ideal Protein diet. Most people on this diet experience rapid improvement in blood pressure without the need for drugs. That’s a nice “side-effect” of a diet which helps you burn unwanted fat safely and easily.
This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.