MOST DIABETICS KNOW of the hormone called insulin and it’s role in the development and continual complications related to their disease. We know that insulin is needed to carry the glucose out of the bloodstream and into cells where it can be converted into energy. And there lies the problem with type II diabetics – insulin is slacking off!
Insulin isn’t the only player in getting glucose into body tissues. In order for glucose to get into muscle cells, insulin has to have a friend inside the cells to accept the glucose delivery. And that friend is called glucose transporter 4 (GLUT4). Without GLUT4, insulin can carry glucose down insulin receptors to knock, bang, and kick on the door but the cell won’t let glucose in to play.
SO IF GLUT4 IS SO IMPORTANT, WHAT IS GLUT4?
GLUT4 is a protein that lies dormant in vesicles within each fat and muscle cell. When insulin carries glucose to insulin receptors to be brought to the cell surface membrane (cell wall), it signals certain proteins like Insulin Receptor Substrate 1 (IRS1) and Protein Kinase B (AKT) within the cell to wake up GLUT4 and meet insulin at the cell wall, open the door, and allow glucose into the cell for either energy or storage.
In non-diabetics, insulin and GLUT4 are best friends. Every time insulin knocks on the door carrying a package of glucose, GLUT4 happily gets out of bed to accept insulin’s gift.
TYPE II DIABETICS, HOWEVER, INSULIN AND GLUT4 DON’T HAVE A GOOD RELATIONSHIP. They’re arguing and not communicating with each other. So GLUT4 stays in bed when insulin drops by for a visit with its truce-offering present of glucose. The result is that insulin has to send glucose back into the bloodstream. Your body knows this is not a good thing so it sends more insulin family members to help bang on the cell’s wall and get GLUT4 to answer and accept the glucose.
While insulin and GLUT4 aren’t speaking to each other, insulin family members continue to arrive at the scene to support their insulin brother, which continues to increase insulin levels in the blood. This doesn’t help the relationship between insulin and GLUT4 so their relationship ends due to too much insulin bombarding her, leading to insulin resistance. And as with any bad ending to a relationship, bad blood is left between Insulin and GLUT4. Hello type II diabetes!
Insulin tries everything to make amends with GLUT4 to no avail. Until, finally, Insulin accepts that he destroyed the relationship. But Insulin still wants GLUT4 in his life, if only as a friend. Maybe they can rekindle their relationship sometime in the future. Insulin remembers that GLUT4 was attracted to one of his friends named Exercise.
EXERCISE IS INSULIN’S MOST POTENT PHYSIOLOGICAL STIMULI. And let’s face it, we all need a little physical action after a breakup! Insulin decides that if he could get Exercise and GLUT4 together to get to know one another, a beautiful relationship could blossom.
As fate would have it, Exercise and GLUT4 fell for each other! And Insulin? Well he agreed to let go of hard feelings toward GLUT4. Exercise learns quickly that GlLUT4 loves glucose so he now gets packages of glucose to GLUT4.
It turns out that exercise also stimulates GLUT4 translocation through different signal molecules than insulin’s pathway to GLUT4. Exercise activates GLUT4 through signal mechanisms like Adenosine Monophosphate-activated protein Kinase (AMPK) to increase glucose uptake into muscle cells, which then converts into energy.
5 BENEFITS OF EXERCISE FOR TYPE II DIABETICS:
1. Improves both liver and pancreatic function by helping burn the fat that is stored in these two organs,
2. Increases insulin sensitivity,
3. Increases muscle glucose intake,
4. Increases glucose tolerance, and
5. All of this results in lowering the amount of stored body fat and reversing type II diabetes.
THE TAKEAWAY is that type II diabetics have an insulin malfunction. But glucose still needs to get out of the bloodstream and into muscle cells or conditions get worse with many complications that are sure to follow. Insulin by itself doesn’t activate GLUT4 in type II diabetics, which leads to insulin resistance. But exercise can bypass the defect between insulin and GLUT4 to get the glucose out of the bloodstream and into muscle cells. And it does this by using a different pathway than insulin.
WE WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU…. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comment section below. We learn best from each other. I’m certain that if you have a question about how this process works, odds are that many others will have the same question – so ask.