Insulin Resistance and Effects on Health

According to many medical experts the epidemics we are experiencing with obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer have not occurred without reason. There are two very little talked about reasons that some researchers have found are contributing to a huge part of these health challenges.

Insulin resistance or Syndrome X

Excessive toxins in our food and drink in the form of excitotoxins (another topic later)

Most people have no clue what these two problems are – or the extent of the health damage we are reaping as a result of them!

Here is the TRUTH: If we are ever going to get control of our health we MUST understand these two problems!

Why? Because they can both be avoided and once they are – many of our health issues will resolve!

Here are some of the symptoms of insulin resistance. See if you recognize any of them.

Fatigue. This is one of the most common symptoms, for some the fatigue follows a large carbohydrate meal – others are exhausted all day.

Brain fogginess. Sometimes the fatigue is physical but other times it is mental. The inability to focus is most evident, but poor memory, loss of creativity, and even some learning disabilities can occur as a result of insulin resistance.

Low blood sugar. Some low blood sugar is normal throughout the day, especially if meals are not eaten on a regular schedule. However, prolonged hypoglycemia with the above symptoms is not normal. Feeling agitated, jittery or moody that is quickly remedied with eating is also indicative.

Intestinal bloating. Most gas comes from excessive high sugar carbs. Insulin resistant people have gas – lots of it.

Sleepiness. Especially after a 20-30% carbohydrate meal.

Increased weight and fat storage…especially in the abdominal area.

Increased triglycerides.

Increased blood pressure.

Depression

If any of these sound familiar to you, perhaps you should investigate this information further.

First what is insulin resistance and how is it relevant to our health?

Insulin resistance is a condition where the cells of the body become resistant to the effects of insulin, that is – the normal response to the given the amount of insulin is reduced. As a result, higher levels of insulin are needed in order for insulin to have its effects. The resistance is seen with the bodies own insulin and if insulin is given through injection.

So why would our cells become resistant to something they were designed to accept? To put it very simply the pancreas has been overworked secreting insulin in an attempt to keep the high levels of glucose or sugar out of the blood because of the high glycemic (sugar) content of the food and drink many of us are consuming. You see – that is insulins job – to push blood sugar into our cells as it comes from the digestive system to be used for energy when we need it.

What we as individuals need to learn is – what kind of things that we are eating are causing this excessive amount of insulin to be released. We are told my some experts to eat high carbohydrate/low fat diets to be healthy and this is some of the worst advise we could listen to. What most people apparently do not understand is that there are “good” carbohydrates and “bad” carbohydrates – at least as related to our insulin levels.

Scientists have even come up with something called the glycemic index (GI) to help us recognize which are “good “carbs and which are “bad”. They have established a numerical system of measuring how much of a rise in circulating blood sugar a carbohydrate triggers – the higher the number, the greater the blood sugar response. There are charts you can find on the internet that list the glycemic index of foods.

The goal we should all be striving for is to keep the GI number in the medium to low level because less insulin will be needed for these foods.

A glycemic index of 70 or more is high

56-69 is medium

55 or less is low

There are many reasons that we should adhere to a lower glycemic diet.

The health problems that will be averted is the biggest reason! Again, the key is to eat low glycemic because it will mean low insulin. It is the high insulin that is causing us the problems. Here is a list of some of them:

obesity
Type 2 diabetes
high blood pressure
high cholesterol
osteoporosis
arthritis
heart disease
certain cancers – notably breast and colon

How many of you knew that it was high insulin in your blood stream that was keeping you fat and contributing to the host of other problems I listed? Don’t feel bad, neither did I until a few years ago, and neither do most other people today.

That is the problem. How can we fix something if we don’t know what’s broke? We are breaking our pancreas by eating too much high glycemic food….but there is more!

The low fat garbage you are told to adhere to is just that…GARBAGE! Has anyone else noticed that since we have all the “no fat” or “low fat” stuff on the grocery shelves we are fatter than ever!

There is a very good physiologic explanation for this and further more there are many scientists who know it too!

The body’s mechanisms for utilizing nutrients from food is complex and impossible for me to explain to you thoroughly (because I don’t understand all of it myself) but I can share a few basic principles with you to shed some light on this insulin thing.

Insulin is secreted by the beta cells in the pancreas.
Insulins purpose is to push nutrients into the cell that are being carried around in our blood stream.
Glucose or sugar is one of those nutrients that comes from carbohydrates and is very closely monitored in the bloodstream by the body because it is needed for energy to accomplish ALL bodily activity. In fact it is the brains only food.
Glucose is toxic to the body and can cause a multitude of problems if it remains too high in the blood stream.
Extra glucose or sugar is stored as glycogen in the liver and muscle cells but in a limited amount.

Once the glycogen stores are full all extra glucose or sugar is stored in fat cells as saturated fat.
If we consume high levels of sugar (from carbohydrates) it will require high levels of insulin to move it out of the blood.

When we repeatedly have high levels of sugar requiring high levels of insulin – two things begin to happen.

1. The pancreas gets tired and starts slowing down production of insulin.
2. The cell membrane gets tired of letting all the insulin in and starts becoming resistant.(It should be noted that this process happens normally as we age but is greatly accelerated with high glycemic foods.)

When either or both of these things happen to a big enough degree – we have a new diabetic born.

The problem with the no fat/low fat diets is misguided because fat has no effect on insulin. In fact, the right kinds of fat play an indirect role on helping lower the insulin response to carbohydrates.

According to Barry Sears, PhD and author of A Week In the Zone, fat slows down the entry rate of carbohydrates into the bloodstream, thereby decreasing the production of insulin. Fat also sends a hormonal signal to the brain that says to “stop eating” and the fewer calories you eat – the less insulin you need. And finally fat makes food taste better! So by taking fat out of the diet (which has no effect on insulin) and replacing it with carbohydrates (which have a strong stimulatory effect on insulin), you are virtually guaranteeing that you will become fatter!

Please Note: We do need to make sure that the fat we add back to the diet is mono unsaturated fat, found in such foods as olive oil, avocados, almonds, macadamia nuts and long-chain omega -3 fats found in fish and fish oils.

This seems too easy to fix! There are tons of good low and medium glycemic foods that we can fill our bellies with- especially if it means we won’t be as susceptible to all those chronic diseases and we can keep insulin resistance at bay!

Reference: A Week in the Zone by Barry Sears, pHD