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Insulin and insulin resistance
That's good news, because glucose hanging around in the blood is dangerous stuff. It can stick to proteins and destroy their ability to do their job. Kidney damage, blindness, and amputations may result.
But insulin has many other vital roles. After a meal, insulin stops the liver from releasing any fat, a potential metabolic fuel, into the blood. Why after a meal? It turns out that just like glucose, these fats, released as triglycerides, are dangerous if they hang about in the blood too long.
In some organisms, insulin plays the role of controlling their lifespan. What is the purpose of insulin in humans? If you ask your physician, they will say that the role of insulin is to lower blood sugar and you must learn right now, that is one of insulin's many roles.
Insulin, sugar, and glycogen
When your body notices that the sugar level is elevated, it is a sign that you have more sugar than you need right now, your body is not burning it and therefore it is accumulating in your blood. So insulin is released to take that sugar and store it. How does it store it? Glycogen? Your body stores very little glycogen at any one time. All the glycogen stored in your liver and muscles would not last you through 1 active day. Once you have filled up your glycogen stores, that sugar is stored as saturated fat.
So the idea of medical professionals recommending a high complex-carbohydrate, low-saturated-fat diet is absolutely a mistake. A high complex-carbohydrate diet is nothing more than a high-glucose diet, or a high-sugar diet. Your body is just going to store it as saturated fat, and the body makes it into saturated fat quite readily.
Your body's principal way of getting rid of sugar, because it is toxic, is to burn it. The sugar which your body can't burn will be rid of by storing it as glycogen, and when those glycogen reserves are full, sugar gets stored as fat. If you eat sugar your body will burn it and you stop burning fat. Another major effect of insulin on fat is it prevents you from burning it. What happens when you are insulin resistant and you have all this insulin floating around all the time? You wake up in the morning with an insulin level of 90.
High levels of insulin cause health problems
Insulin also causes the retention of sodium, which causes fluid retention, which causes high blood pressure and congestive heart failure.
A recent study(1) showed that overweight children with high levels of insulin in their blood are also likely to have high levels of homocysteine, a substance which appears to raise the risk of heart disease, stroke, and birth defects.
Osteoporosis is another potential problem resulting from insulin resistance. Insulin is a master hormone which controls many anabolic hormones such as growth hormone, testosterone, and progesterone. In insulin resistance, the anabolic process is reduced. Bone is built upon the command of such hormones. When these hormones are reduced, the amount of bone building is reduced, and the amount of calcium excreted is increased.
Insulin increases cellular proliferation. How does this affect cancer? It helps it grow. And there are some pretty strong studies(2,3) which show that one of the strongest correlations to breast and colon cancers are levels of insulin.
Different cells respond to insulin differently. Some cells are more resistant than others, as some cells are incapable of becoming very resistant. The liver becomes resistant first, followed by the muscle tissue and lastly the fats. As all these major tissues, become insulin resistant your pancreas is putting out more insulin to compensate. Any time your cell is exposed to insulin it is going to become more insulin resistant. That is inevitable, we cannot stop this process, but the rate we can control.
But the pancreas can't always keep up that high level of insulin production forever. Once the production of insulin starts slowing down, or the resistance goes up, then blood sugar goes up and the person becomes a diabetic.
"Insulin resistance syndrome" refers to a combination of risk factors for type 2 diabetes, including chronically elevated insulin levels, low HDL ("good") cholesterol, abdominal obesity and high blood pressure.
Excessive intake of all carbohydrates, especially the high-glycemic type, is the primary culprit in the development of insulin resistance.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body no longer responds to insulin. As a result, levels of insulin in the blood become elevated and over time, can raise the risk for kidney failure and blindness, as well as heart disease.
A recent study(4) has found that insulin resistance syndrome, or "syndrome X," is found in families with a history of early heart disease - a heart attack or blood vessel blockage before age 55 in men and before age 65 in women.
Symptoms of insulin resistance
Here is a list of some of the most common symptoms of people with Insulin Resistance. Many symptoms manifest themselves immediately following a meal of carbohydrates, and others are more or less always present. Keep in mind that these symptoms may also be related to other problems.
Insulin and aging
However, there are 3 consistent blood metabolic indicators of all centenarians which are relatively consistent: low sugar, low triglycerides, and low insulin. All 3 are relatively low for age. Among these 3 variables, insulin is the common denominator. The level of insulin sensitivity of the cell is one of the most important markers of lifespan.
Controlling your insulin levels is one of the most powerful anti-aging strategies you can possibly implement. Sugar and grains cause your body to produce insulin and high insulin levels are the single largest physical cause of accelerated aging. If you want to slow down aging and be healthy then you need to change your grains for greens.
Fortunately insulin is the variable most easily influenced by a healthy diet and exercise. Traditional doctors will prescribe drugs to lower blood sugar in type 2 diabetics and give verbal acknowledgment to exercise.
A low grain, no sugar diet is one of the most effective ways to lower one's insulin levels. This is especially effective when combined with an aerobic exercise program which increases the heart rate to about 75% of its maximum and maintains it there for 45 minutes, 5 times a week.
In addition to the steps we discussed related to diet and exercise, you may want to consider chromium supplementation. Chromium helps insulin to work efficiently. Many well-controlled clinical studies through the years show blood glucose improvements in the patients tested.
Important studies include one from the Human Nutrition Research Center of the United States Department of Agriculture conducted in 1996. Researchers in the study randomized 180 adult-onset diabetics into 3 groups of 60 each: one group received placebo twice a day, the second received 100 mcg twice a say of chromium as chromium picolinate and the third received 500 mcg of chromium as chromium picolinate twice per day. Their blood work was examined at baseline, at 2 months and at 4 months. The patients were told to remain on their anti-diabetic medications and to continue with their diets and activity levels as before. The results were impressive: blood glucose, insulin levels, and cholesterol all decreased, with the higher dose generally (but not always) more effective than the 200 mcg.
I spend a lot of time researching the internet for the best prices for high quality supplements, and in my opinion the lowest price for high quality chromium supplements, whether picolinate or GTF, is here.
Your goals should be: Reduce insulin levels as much as possible, through diet and exercise, and control your weight. 90% of those with insulin resistance are obese.
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(1) Diabetes Care 2000;23:1348-1352
(2) Annual meeting of American Society of Clinical Oncology, New Orleans, May 23
(3) National Cancer Institute 2002 September 4;94(17):1293-300
(4) Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology August 2001;21:1346-1352
Work in progress. My neurofeedback app for Android will be available
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Work in progress. My neurofeedback app for Android will be available in the Google Play Store when completed.
The Neurosky EEG headset I am wearing in the video is available here.
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