Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘insulin resistance’

713 insulin resistance

The road to chronic disease — from arthritis to heart disease — is paved with sugar and refined carbohydrates. It’s a freeway that leads straight to insulin resistance syndrome, given the right conditions, most notably being overweight and inactive.

The devastating chain of events that leads to chronic disease goes like this:

  • Carbs and sugar break down in the digestive tract to glucose that the body uses for energy.
  • Beta cells in the pancreas make and secrete insulin into the blood to ferry any glucose you don’t use to muscle, fat, and liver cells for storage.
  • Given the right conditions and more glucose than your cells can manage at the moment, the call goes out for even more insulin.
  • Beta cells keep the insulin flowing but eventually the body’s cells can’t absorb it or the glucose building up in your blood stream. That’s called insulin resistance.
  • Eventually the beta cells can’t keep up and insulin levels plummet. Now your bloodstream is flooded with glucose, which damages nerves and blood vessels, causes inflammation, and leads to a host of chronic diseases.

Chronic Diseases Linked to Insulin Resistance Syndrome

Here’s a short list of what may lay ahead for you if you fail to reverse insulin resistance as soon as possible:

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Prediabetes and diabetes
  • Arthritis Alzheimer’s disease
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
  • Obesity
  • Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Pancreatitis

Take the First Exit

The sooner you give those beta cells a rest, the better your chances of avoiding insulin resistance and diabetes. The intervention is simple but not easy if you’ve spent a lifetime eating processed foods and drinking sweet sodas.

Here’s what you’ve got to do:

  • Clear your cupboards and fridge of processed foods and those that contain sugar, even if they seem to be “healthy,” like packaged granola, energy bars, and even yogurts with fruit.
  • Eat whole, “real” foods — that is, foods made with ingredients you recognize as foods and without pesticides, additives, or any ingredient you can’t pronounce.
  • Count your veggies and fruits. Seven to 10 servings a day is currently recommended. A serving is a half cup or, for lettuce and leafy greens, a cup .
  • Avoid simple carbs like sugar and white flours and eat complex ones found in high-fiber foods. These digest more slowly and don’t cause a surge in glucose.
  • Regular exercise, particularly high intensity interval training, makes muscles more sensitive to insulin. Sleep well, night after night.
  • Sleep deprivation has been shown to promote inflammation and obesity.
Advertisements

Read Full Post »

 insulin resistance

If you are sleepy after eating, always hungry, and can’t lose weight, you may suffer from insulin resistance, which raises your risk for diabetes. The good news is insulin resistance is often reversible through simple dietary changes.

How do you know if you have insulin resistance? See if any of these symptoms apply to you:

  • Fatigue after meals
  • General fatigue
  • Constant hunger
  • Craving for sweets not relieved by eating them
  • Must have sweets after meals
  • Waist girth equal to or larger than hip girth
  • Frequent urination
  • Increased appetite and thirst
  • Difficulty losing weight
  • Migrating aches and pains
  • Trouble falling asleep

Why is insulin resistance dangerous?

Insulin resistance, also known as pre-diabetes, is uncomfortable, but it’s also dangerous. It is linked with Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, chronic pain, hormone imbalances, and many other common modern maladies.

But that’s not all. Insulin resistance can also kill your libido and make you chronically tired.

If you’re a woman, insulin resistance causes testosterone to spike so you lose your hair and develop male characteristics. If you’re a man  it raises estrogen levels so you get “moobs” and cry at commercials. These are some pretty undesirable consequences for a sugar habit!

What causes insulin resistance?

The good news and the bad news is insulin resistance is caused by poor diet and lack of exercise. This is bad news because it means giving up some comforts, but it’s good news because it means radically changing your health is highly doable!

A diet high in sugars and carbohydrates—sugars, sweets, sodas, pastries, bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, corn, grains, beans, and other starchy foods —leads to high blood sugar and insulin resistance.

Because high blood sugar is dangerous to the body, the pancreas secretes insulin to lower it. Insulin escorts sugar out of the bloodstream and into the body’s cells. Excess sugar is converted into fat for storage.

When this response happens regularly every day, as it does for millions of Americans, the cells become overwhelmed from the constant bombardment of insulin. In defense, they become resistant to insulin and refuse it entry. Now you have high blood sugar and high insulin in your bloodstream, causing inflammation, throwing off hormone balance, and degenerating the brain.

This is why insulin resistance causes fatigue after meals. The insulin-resistant cells are deprived of glucose for energy, converting all that extra sugar into fat is draining, and the whole process saps brain function.

Many people have both insulin resistance and low blood sugar. This means their energy crashes not only after meals, but between meals too. Either way, stabilizing blood sugar is your key to better health and losing weight.

Reversing insulin resistance

The most important thing is to ditch the sugar and eat only as many complex carbohydrates as your body needs (it varies from person to person). Eat tons of veggies for fiber and to build good gut bacteria. Start checking your fasting blood sugar in the morning and shoot for a level between 80 and 100. Anything over 100 is too high. Also, exercise daily, with bursts of high intensity and some weight training, to sensitize your cells to insulin.

Various herbs and nutrients can help reverse insulin resistance — ask my office for a recommendation.

Read Full Post »

diabetes management

Anyone with diabetes knows it’s important to manage insulin levels. Functional medicine offers unique tools to manage insulin and blood sugar — including diet, exercise, stress management, detoxification, and maximizing essential nutrients. To understand how all these tools apply, it’s helpful to know how insulin works.

Insulin and Blood Sugar: A Balancing Act

Insulin helps keep glucose (sugar) levels in the bloodstream within normal range. When you eat, carbohydrates are broken down into glucose, our primary energy source. When glucose enters the bloodstream, the pancreas responds by producing insulin, which enables glucose to enter the body’s tissues. Excess glucose is stored in the liver; when needed to sustain blood sugar between meals, the liver releases sugar and the pancreas responds with more insulin to help it enter cells. This balancing act keeps the amount of sugar in the bloodstream stable.

When the pancreas secretes little or no insulin (type I diabetes), when your body doesn’t produce enough insulin, or when your cells are resistant to insulin (insulin resistance, common in type II diabetes), sugar levels in the bloodstream can get too high. Chronic high blood sugar can lead to complications such as blindness, nerve damage, and kidney damage.

Managing Insulin with a Multi-Faceted Approach

Certain environmental and lifestyle factors increase the need for insulin, which is a problem when the body can’t produce enough.

Diet

What you eat directly affects your blood sugar and insulin levels.

  • Not eating regularly, and eating larger meals causes drops and spikes in blood sugar and insulin, driving insulin resistance  If blood sugar is a problem, better to eat smaller, more frequent meals to keep blood sugar and insulin levels stable.
  • Processed and fast foods drive inflammation, which causes insulin resistance and other disease processes. It also increases cortisol levels, which can increase blood sugar levels.
  • Food sensitivities cause immune and inflammatory responses, which causes insulin resistance. Many people have food sensitivities they don’t know about.
  • Pay attention to Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load. Glycemic index measures the insulin response your body has after eating a food. The higher the number, the more insulin your pancreas needs to secrete. Glycemic load is the amount of that food eaten.

Exercise

Fat cells have insulin receptors. Exercise burns calories and fat; fewer cells mean less need for insulin. And, when you exercise, your muscles need more energy to fire and insulin receptor sites become more receptive. Even a short walk can reduce blood sugar levels and insulin demands dramatically.

Stress

Up to 90 percent of doctor visits are related to chronic stress. Stress has big impact on insulin by:

  • decreasing insulin receptor sensitivity, which means the body must make more insulin to have the same response to blood sugar.
  • elevating cortisol, which can raise blood sugar levels.
  • causing the liver to raise blood sugar (the body’s way of increasing energy to handle stressful situations). Raised blood sugar means more need for insulin.

Toxins

Toxins are found throughout our environment — in body products, food, air, and water. The body gets overworked trying to deal with them, causing inflammation and increasing insulin resistance. Inflammation shuts down receptor sites, requiring the body to make more insulin.

Essential Nutrients

Essential nutrients are necessary for healthy bodily function. Key nutrients commonly lacking in patients with blood sugar issues are:

  • Alpha-Lipoic Acid — Alpha-lipoic acid is one of the main nutrients responsible for making sugar into energy. Anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant, it helps reduce insulin resistance.
  • Magnesium — Diabetics tend to utilize magnesium faster than non-diabetics. Magnesium is responsible for making energy, helps muscles and nerves fire, and is responsible for over 300 processes in the body. Low magnesium can contribute to constipation, depression, and high blood pressure.
  • Zinc — Excess inflammation causes you to use more zinc than normal. Because diabetes is rooted in inflammation, a lot of diabetics are low in zinc. An important nutrient to the pancreas, it plays a role in almost 300 reactions in the body.
  • B-Vitamins — The b-vitamins play a role in almost every cellular process. Diabetic medications can deplete b-vitamins.
  • Chromium — Chromium helps make insulin receptor sites receptive to insulin, helping lower blood sugar levels.

A Multi-Faceted Approach is Key

For proper diabetes management, we must provide adequate exercise, proper nutrition, and manageable stress levels. As a functional health provider, I understand that you have unique needs and am prepared to help you develop a customized action plan to manage your blood sugar and insulin levels.

Read Full Post »

blood sugar and chronic disease

Heart diseasestroke, diabetes, arthritis, and Alzheimer’s — chronic diseases are the most common and costly health problems in the United States. What’s worse is they are largely lifestyle diseases, meaning they often can be prevented through changes to the diet.

Many Americans today eat diets that throw their blood sugar out of balance and cause inflammation. Along with lack of exercise, these diets underpin the development of many chronic diseases today.

The body has several ways to keep blood sugar within a narrow range so it doesn’t go too high or too low. For the average American, unfortunately, the body must constantly struggle to manage overly high blood sugar.

This is because people consume diets high in sugars, sweeteners, and refined carbohydrates—pasta, white rice, breads, pastries, soda—that quickly spike blood sugar.

Insulin resistance stepping-stone to diabetes and other chronic diseases

When a person eats too many sugary and refined foods on a regular basis, the body overproduces insulin.

Eventually the constant surges of insulin exhaust the body’s cells and they refuse entry to the insulin, which is called insulin resistance. Now insulin can’t escort glucose into the cells to make energy. As a result you feel sleepy after eating. 

Also, because glucose can’t get into cells, blood sugar climbs too high. The body lowers it to safer levels by converting excess glucose into fat for storage. This is a demanding process that also leads to fatigue after meals. The excess sugar in the bloodstream also damages blood vessels and the brain.

Insulin resistance is a stepping stone to Type 2 diabetes, a breakdown in the body’s blood-sugar handling system. Studies show links between insulin resistance and many chronic diseases, including heart diseasestrokecancer, diabetes, arthritis, and Alzheimer’s.

Reduced uptake of glucose by cells, high triglycerides, and high circulating amounts of sugar in the bloodstream all promote the inflammation and damage that leads to chronic disease. To add insult to injury, people with insulin resistance often feel too tired to exercise, are prone to overeating, and have intense sugar cravings.

Symptoms of insulin resistance

Symptoms of insulin resistance include:

  • Fatigue after meals
  • General fatigue
  • Constant hunger
  • Constant craving for sweets
  • Strong desire for sweets after meals
  • Waist girth equal to or larger than hip girth
  • Frequent urination
  • Increased appetite and thirst
  • Difficulty losing weight
  • Migrating aches and pains

One of the best ways to prevent or manage chronic disease is to eat a diet that stabilizes your blood sugar and reverses insulin resistance. This includes a whole-foods diet free of added sugars and refined carbohydrates, plenty of fiber, and healthy proteins and fats. Regular exercise is important to increase insulin sensitivity. Certain nutritional and botanical compounds have also been shown to help improve blood sugar handling and manage insulin resistance.

For support in preventing chronic disease and managing insulin resistance, please contact my office.

Read Full Post »

insulin-resistance-dementia-alzheimers-risk

Do you feel sleepy or have intense cravings for sugar after meals? Are you a woman whose hair is thinning, yet you’re growing facial hair? Are you a man who cries at movies and has “moobs” (male breasts)? If so, you probably suffer from insulin resistance. Not only does insulin resistance gender bend your hormones, research shows it also raises your risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s.

What is insulin resistance?

A high-carb, high-sugar diet consistently raises blood sugar levels, which in turn requires the body to secrete high levels of insulin to lower blood sugar. Eventually these insulin surges exhaust the body’s cells, which then refuse entry to the insulin, causing insulin resistance. Insulin resistance brought on by high blood sugar arises from eating a diet that is high in sweets, soda, and starchy foods such as breads, pasta, rice, corn, potatoes, etc.; a habit of overeating; and living a sedentary lifestyle.

The link between insulin resistance and Alzheimer’s

Insulin resistance has long been linked with many common health conditions, including obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and hormonal imbalances. More recently, researchers have discovered that it also increases the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s. In fact, the link is so well established that some researchers refer to Alzheimer’s as “type 3 diabetes.” This is because a high-carbohydrate diet has the ability to accelerate brain degeneration and cause dementia.

Insulin necessary for brain function

Insulin does more than regulate blood sugar in the body. Appropriate levels of insulin in the brain manage glucose levels for sustained mental energy. In turn, this regulates inflammation and helps produce brain chemicals that regulate mood.

The insulin surges and insulin resistance that result from a sugary, high-carbohydrate diet raises inflammation in the brain and disrupts the brain’s ability to perform even simple operations.

For many people, insulin resistance eventually becomes type 2 diabetes—the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar has broken down. Moreover, studies have demonstrated a clear link between diabetes and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Don’t wait until it’s too late

Both insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes often can be reversed by changing your diet and lifestyle. So, it’s best not to wait until you have developed dementia or Alzheimer’s to take action. While a low-carb, ketogenic diet has been shown to be beneficial to those with dementia and Alzheimer’s, it is also key to prevention.

Reversing insulin resistance to prevent Alzheimer’s

Some of the most powerful tools to prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s are, unsurprisingly, the same tools that can reverse insulin resistance. These include:

  • Ditching all sweets, sugars, desserts, and sodas. Beware natural sweeteners, such as honey, maple syrup, and agave, as they still raise blood sugar and insulin. Also, avoid over-indulging in sugary fruits.
  • Adopt a lower-carb diet. Some people will need a low amount of carbohydrates—coming primarily from leafy green vegetables—for optimal function, some will need more. Ask our office for guidelines to get started.
  • Exercise regularly. Studies show a combination of both aerobic and weight lifting exercises offers the best brain protection. High-intensity interval training and weight lifting have been shown especially effective to reverse insulin resistance (but do not derail your progress by overtraining). Even just a half-hour walk daily can be extremely beneficial.
  • Eat healthy, natural fats instead of processed vegetable oils. Coconut oil has been shown to be especially beneficial for brain health.

Read Full Post »

2 7 sugar makes you stupid

A recently published UCLA study shows what many have suspected all along: Eating too much sugar makes you stupid. Scientists found that just six weeks of bingeing on sweets and soda will sabotage both learning and memory. Fortunately, consuming omega-3 fatty acids can counteract some of the damage.

The study looked at the effects of fructose — in the form of cane sugar (sucrose), high-fructose corn syrup, and corn syrup — which is found in the American diet in everything from soft drinks to baby food. A whopping 156 pounds of sugar per year is what the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates an average American consumes, including 82 pounds of fructose, the sugar that was studied. In total, we Americans are consuming 150 more pounds of sugar per year than we did in 1822. Put another way, our sugar consumption has increased by almost a pound of sugar per person per year. Every year. That’s a lot of sugar.

Sugar lowers the brain chemical needed for memory

While sugar’s role in obesity, diabetes, fatty liver, and even Alzheimer’s Disease has been established, this is the first study to show how sweeteners directly affect the brain.

Sugar reduces the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a brain chemical necessary for the formation of memories and for learning and recall. As expected, those with diabetes or pre-diabetes (insulin resistance) show lowered levels of BDNF. Additional research links low BDNF levels to depression and dementia.

DHA can help protect the brain from sugar damage

In the UCLA study, two groups of rats were given a fructose solution for six weeks in addition to their regular feed. One group of rats also received omega-3 fatty acids in the form of flax seed oil and DHA, an omega-3 compound that protects the brain from damage and facilitates memory and learning.

The rats were trained to learn a maze in five days. After six weeks of being given the sugar solution, they were then put back into the maze to test their memory. The rats that received the omega-3 oil and DHA were able to negotiate the maze much faster. The brains of the DHA-deprived rats showed a decline in synaptic function, poor communication between neurons, and worsened memory. These rats also developed a resistance to insulin, a hormone necessary not only for blood sugar regulation but also for brain function. Insulin controls synaptic function, and so imbalances in insulin may disrupt neurons and cause memory loss.

The study clearly suggests that fructose impairs memory and learning. It also suggests that a daily intake of DHA, such as through salmon, walnuts, flax seed, or a supplement, can help protect the brain from the harmful effects of sugar.

DHA cannot stand up to 156 pounds of sugar

Of course, simply adding more DHA to your diet isn’t going to counteract the damage of eating 156 pounds of sugar a year. The best way to stay smart is to cut out the sweeteners and moderate your carbohydrate intake to a level that doesn’t disrupt blood sugar balance. A bonus side effect of this lifestyle change is a way out of your daily energy highs and lows, and who knows, maybe even a dropped pound or two.

For help getting started on a brain-healthy diet, contact my office.

Read Full Post »

Question

I practically fall asleep in my plate after every meal. Why does eating make me so sleepy?

Answer

Feeling sleepy after meals is a common symptom of insulin resistance, a risk factor for diabetes.

Starchy foods and too much insulin

Insulin resistance is common today and is a stepping-stone to diabetes. Overeating and eating a diet high in sugar and starchy foods causes insulin resistance. These foods include breads, rice, pasta, pastries, chips, potatoes, soda, sweet coffee drinks, and more.

Converting glucose to fat demands energy

Insulin escorts glucose into the cells to make energy. Starchy foods bombard the bloodstream with too much glucose, forcing the release of insulin to lower it. When a person eats a starchy diet on a regular basis, the body overproduces insulin to lower chronically high blood sugar.

Eventually these constant surges of insulin exhaust the body’s cells and they refuse entry to the insulin, which is called insulin resistance. As a result insulin can’t escort glucose into the cells to make energy and the person feels sleepy.

Also, because glucose can’t get into cells, blood sugar climbs too high. The body lowers it to safer levels by converting excess glucose into fat for storage. This is a demanding process that robs one of energy.

Insulin surges overproduce calming brain chemical

A fluctuation in brain chemistry is another factor that causes tiredness. Carbohydrates provide precursors for serotonin, the “joy and well-being” brain chemical that can ward off depression and also be calming.

However, the insulin surge that follows a high-carb meal overproduces serotonin in the brain, contributing to that need for a post-meal nap. After serotonin levels drop, people then may feel depressed, which spurs cravings for more high-carb foods and sweets to get that pleasurable “high” and start the cycle over again.

Restoring insulin sensitivity

If you feel sleepy even after a very low-carb meal, it could be because you overate or because your glucose metabolism has become too disordered to function properly. While adapting a lower-carb diet is vital, you may need the guidance of a practitioner in using nutritional and botanical compounds that can help restore insulin sensitivity.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »