Insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes and obesity (diabesity) are global epidemics with major health consequences. Nearly two thirds of Americans are now medically classified as overweight or obese. What's crazy is that 30 percent of overweight individuals believe they're at a healthy weight, and 70 percent of obese individuals feel they're simply overweight. This excess weight costs our nation $93 billion in annual medical bills.
A study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development predicts that by 2020 close to 75 percent of the American population will be overweight or obese. What does this mean? In less than nine years, more than half of all Americans will be pre-diabetic or suffer Type 2 diabetes.
Insulin resistance is when the cell loses its responsiveness on the insulin receptor site (particularly liver, muscle and fat cells, with the liver losing sensitivity first, followed by muscle, then fat cells). Your body adds more and more insulin to store fat. Overtime, the pancreas gives up, leading to Type 2 diabetes.
In Type 2 diabetes, your body isn't making enough insulin and/or the cells are resistant to insulin causing too much sugar to remain in the blood. Insulin takes the sugar from the blood into the cells. Although insulin is necessary for your body's use of sugar, higher insulin levels accelerate the aging process and lead to diabetes.
High levels of insulin can cause major damage to your body. The most recognized of these is diabetes, but that is far from the only one. As Dr. Ron Rosedale said, "It doesn't matter what disease you are talking about, whether you are talking about a common cold or cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis or cancer, the root is always going to be at the molecular and cellular level, and I will tell you that insulin is going to have its hand in it, if not totally control it."
You want to create an environment in which you're sensitive to insulin. Insulin sensitivity is your body's ability to use insulin properly to regulate the amount of glucose in the bloodstream.
Insulin resistance symptoms and conditions
• Brain fogginess and an inability to focus.
• Elevated triglycerides and low HDL levels.
• Excess fat around your midsection or scapula area.
• Inflammation and/or intestinal bloating.
• PCOS - Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.
• Sleepiness, dizziness and/or fatigue.
• Type 2 diabetes; gout; hepatitis.
When glucose (sugar) builds up in the blood instead of going into cells, it causes:
• An increased risk for Alzheimer's disease (diabetes of the brain, aka Type 3 diabetes). Hyperinsulinemia doubles your risk for AD compared to people without diabetes. Inflammation increases risk for diabetes and Alzheimer's.
• Damage to your eyes, kidneys, nerves or heart.
All hormones work in synergy with one another. The hormone you have the most control over is insulin. This is regulated by choice of food.
What causes insulin resistance and/or diabetes?
• A sedentary lifestyle.
• Calorie restriction, skipping meals, diet pills, and a diet of fast foods, boxed, processed, canned or microwaved foods. Unbalanced meals high in carbohydrates, sugar, HFCS, and a low intake of healthy fats and protein.
• Drinking soft drinks and fruit juices.
• Elevated lypogenic (fat storing) enzymes and decreased lypolytic (fat burning) enzymes.
• Lack of quality sleep.
• Stress, adrenal fatigue, altered hormonal levels and inflammation. Years of high adrenaline and/or elevated cortisol due to excessive exercise, poor nutrition, unhealthy lifestyle habits and/or excessive amounts of stress (electromagnetic, psychological, environmental, emotional or physical).
Reduce insulin resistance, increase insulin sensitivity
1. Sweeten with stevia, an herb, instead of artificial sweeteners or sugar. Stevia will not elevate blood sugars and has zero calories. Avoid all artificial sweeteners Equal, Sweet ‘N Low, Splenda, and any product with NutraSweet or Aspartame. Especially avoid any product with high-fructose corn syrup and agave syrup, both which create an aggressive insulin response.
2. Stay away from gluten, wheat and any products with gluten.
3. Eliminate all boxed, canned and microwavable foods.
4. Pass on processed carbohydrates carbs and grains, pasteurized dairy products, fast-acting sugars (fruit juices and high glycemic fruits, all soda including diet), starchy vegetables, hydrogenated fats, alcohol and tobacco.
5. Enjoy a cup of coffee, or green tea and ditch all soda. Consumption of soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages are associated with an increased risk of metabolic syndrome, obesity and diabetes. Just one sweetened drink a day raises your risk of diabetes by 25 percent.
6. Type 2 diabetics should avoid most fruits except for tomatoes, berries, green apples, avocados, grapefruit, lemons, limes
7. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate! Drink a minimum of half your body weight in ounces of water every day. Stay away from plastic bottles due to BPA exposure, which has been linked to an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes and cancer.
8. An article published in the Nutrition Journal concluded that a low-carb, high-protein diet is superior to a low fat diet to reduce insulin levels and improve insulin sensitivity.
9. Mix 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar or the juice from a lemon or lime (flavonoids) in water and drink before your meals. This helps reduce the insulin index of the meal.
10. Small mini meals and snacks throughout the day that consist of protein, fat and fiber from veggies help stabilize blood sugar. Fiber helps lower glucose.
1. Get to bed by 10 p.m. and get up no earlier than 6 a.m. Lack of sleep disturbs glucose metabolism.
2. Manage your stressors. Stress is the No. 2 cause of Type 2 diabetes. Diet is the No. 1 cause.
3. Minimize BPA exposure (plastic water bottles, dental sealants, plastic wraps, canned foods, etc.). A study published in 2008 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) that found BPA is linked to diabetes.
4. Monitor blood glucose levels at least two times a day before eating meals. If you are exercising you will need to test your glucose levels more frequently. Glucose levels are influenced by carbohydrate intake, stress, glandular and liver function.
5. Know your numbers; monitor fasting insulin levels and Hemoglobin A1C.
6. Rule out food allergies/sensitivities, heavy metal toxicity, Candida, parasites, pesticide overload, other xenobiotics and inoculations, which can be locus to pancreatic dysfunction resulting in diabetes or hypoglycemia.
Exercise and movement
The power of movement and activity should never be underestimated to reducing and eliminating the pre-diabetes (insulin resistance) syndrome and controlling diabetes.
1. Begin some form of exercise and be consistent! Walking is excellent for those with diabetes. A daily 3 mph brisk walk decreases diabetes risk by 50 percent.
2. Strength training is far superior to steady state aerobic exercise to prevent obesity and increase insulin sensitivity. Steady state aerobic exercise increases cortisol levels, which increase insulin levels.
We are each unique in our biochemistry. Eliminate the guesswork to determine a custom, personalized supplement program with a personalized consultation or Blood Chemistry Analysis, which is designed to evaluate your metabolic status and indicate food and supplemental food factors that are either excessive or insufficient in your diet.
The obesity epidemic and the number of individuals diagnosed with diabetes and/or insulin resistance will continue to increase due to unhealthy lifestyle choices.
Now is the time to take control and responsibility. Health is a choice. You can avoid insulin resistance, prevent, reverse and manage diabetes.
• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Paula Owens is a nutritionist, fitness expert and weight loss coach with more than 20 years of experience. Reach her at www.PaulaOwens.com.