It's a vicious cycle. In turn, the excess triglycerides make muscle cells insulin-resistant, interfering with the signaling pathway that normally allows them to soak up glucose from the blood. As a result, more insulin needs to be secreted, and full-blown syndrome X is fast approaching.
Eventually our adipose cells-bombarded with extra calories to store in the form of triglycerides and glucose-succumb to insulin resistance too. In a final twist, the overloaded fat cells flood the blood with fatty acids that in turn start killing the insulin-secreting pancreatic cells.
Insulin levels plummet; glucose accumulates in the blood even between meals-and a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes is made. If the patient fails to change their diet and lose weight, the destruction of insulin-secreting cells continues apace. Eventually, daily injections of insulin are needed just to keep the patient alive.
It's a frightening scenario, but we can do something about it. For a start, we can exercise to use as many of our muscles as possible, and to help them use up the extra fatty fuel.
New research by physiologists at the University of Loughborough, Christina Koutsari and Adrianne Hardman, reveals that a moderate amount of daily exercise might even prevent the dramatic rise in blood triglyceride levels that happens when healthy volunteers are switched to a high-sugar diet.