Body builder

Why Does Exercise Control My Diabetes? Part 2

Why Does Exercise Control My Diabetes? Part 2

Exercise maintains healthy muscle tissue. 

Healthy muscle tissue is hungry for glucose.  Glucose that enters the muscle tissue does not stay in the blood.

Our goal as diabetics is to get glucose out of the bloodstream.  Exercise accomplishes this by creating muscle tissue that is hungry mainly for glucose.

When the muscle tissue is frequently exercised, it acts as a glucose vacuum, removing glucose from the bloodstream efficiently.  Therefore, when you eat carbohydrates (remember, carbohydrates are NOT the enemy), then glucose from the carbohydrate chains circulates in the blood temporarily, and is then quickly absorbed by hungry muscle tissue.

Exercise maintains a healthy endothelium.

Think of the endothelium as the single cell boundary layer that coats the inside of blood vessels all throughout the body.  In order for glucose to leave the blood, it must first pass through the endothelial layer before it enters the interstitial fluid at the target tissue.  In other words, glucose transport out of the bloodstream requires movement across the endothelial layer, which serves as a gatekeeper of sorts.  Unhealthy endothelial tissue is the root cause of many conditions, including hypertension, atherosclerosis, arterial plaque, and heart disease.

arterial plaque

High dietary cholesterol, high dietary fat, and refined sugars can all damage the endothelial tissue layer, which blocks glucose from moving out of the blood stream.  This causes glucose to stay in the bloodstream, which is the problem we’re trying to reverse.

Exercise helps keep the lining of blood vessels healthy, by promoting the rapid exchange of nutrients and oxygen, and by removing the unwanted materials (mainly cholesterol deposits) that increase our risk for heart disease and insulin resistance.

Let’s take a short trip to your bathroom to understand this problem.

clogged pipe

Your bathroom sink drains into a pipe that then carries waste water to the sewer.  Over time, the pipe that drains your sink becomes clogged with hair, toothpaste, cleaning products, and a host of other things I’d rather not think about.  As the amount of buildup increases, water flow through the pipe slows down, until one day Mr. Roto Rooter is called to disconnect the pipe and remove the solid deposits that have accumulated over time.  This is very similar to the arterial plaque that builds up in blood vessels over time in the human body.  Arterial plaque forms from consuming a diet high in fat, high in cholesterol, and high in refined sugars.

A pipe that has little or no residue allows water to flow easily, and does not require the service of a plumber.  Unlike your bathroom sink, it’s not possible to simply remove damaged sections of blood vessels, clean them out, then replace.  Instead, we have to preserve the internal surface by consuming a diet low in cholesterol, low in fat, and low in refined sugars.

Think of exercise as arterial drano.

Sometimes a clogged bathroom pipe can be treated with a little magic that comes from your local grocery store.  Clogged pipe?  No problem.   Pour drano down the sink, wait half an hour, then flush.  Magic.

Exercise functions in much the same way.  Exercise promotes the clearance of damaged endothelial cells, the removal of arterial deposits, and returns the inner lining of blood vessels to their normal, happy, elastic, efficient state, so that our main objective can be accomplished with ease:

Remove glucose from the bloodstream so that it can be used by tissues for energy

Photo credit: The PIX-JOCKEY (no groups, no comments!) / / CC BY-NC

About The Author

Cyrus Khambatta

Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 22, I have spent over a decade learning the fundamentals of nutrition at the doctorate level. My goal is to share my knowledge of practical nutrition and fitness with people with prediabetes, type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is an OPPORTUNITY to attain excellent health. Reversing the effects of insulin resistance can be a fun and enjoyable process if the right system is in place. That's why I've spent over 10 years developing a rock solid system that can minimize blood glucose variability and insulin resistance.

Leave a comment or question below