Are you Insulin Resistant and what to do about it!
Insulin is a hormone produced by the beta cells of the pancreas. These cells are scattered throughout the pancreas in small clusters known as the islets of Langerhans. The insulin produced is released into the blood stream and travels throughout the body. Insulin is an essential hormone that has many actions within the body. Most actions of insulin are directed at metabolism (control) of carbohydrates (sugars and starches), lipids (fats), and proteins. Insulin also regulates the functions of the body's cells, including their growth. Insulin is critical for the body's use of glucose as energy.
When you eat foods that contain any form of sugar, that sugar gets broken down into glucose. By the way, when I say that foods containing sugar I’m not just talking about sweet foods. I’m also talking about any carbohydrate (both simple and complex) containing foods. In this case, flavor is secondary to chemical make-up because that’s what ultimately determines how it’s going to be digested.
Let me give some examples of foods that will get broken down into glucose:
- Deserts: ice cream, cookies, cakes, pies, candy, dried fruit…
- Sweet drinks: Gatorade, creamers, soda, Kool-Aid, juices…
- Simple carbs: bread, pasta, crackers, refined cereals
- Complex carbs: quinoa, oats, brown & wild rice, corn, sprouted wheats, plantains, cassava, turnips, squashes…
- Fiber-rich: most fruits, most vegetables, peas, beans, legumes
Those foods, the ones above and the others I didn’t have space to include, once simplified into glucose molecules (this is what we mean when we say blood sugar) are then escorted by insulin to the liver and muscle cells where they are stored for later use as a form of energy (down the line). This stored form of glucose is called glycogen. Provided everything on the inside is functioning the way it was designed to function, that is how this works. What I’ve described here is known as insulin sensitivity (which is a good thing).
However, if you overly consume those foods that break down into glucose (whether they be “healthy” or not) you can accidentally put yourself into a state of insulin resistance.
I often have customers come into the shop saying they eat very healthy but they seem to mention carbs in every single meal. If this is a day you're not training and you're consuming carbs in every single meal (healthy or not) then the chances are, you could consuming to many carbohydrates on these days unless you have a very active and demanding active job.
One example of this is when a person's body may not be producing enough insulin to meet their needs, so some glucose can't get into the cells. Glucose remains in the bloodstream, causing high blood glucose levels. In many cases, the person may actually be producing more insulin than one might reasonably expect that person to need to convert the amount of food they've eaten at a meal into energy. Their pancreas is actually working overtime to produce more insulin because the body's cells are resistant to the effects of insulin. Basically the cells, despite the presence of insulin in the bloodstream, don't become unlocked and don't let enough of the glucose in the blood into the cells. Scientist don’t know the exact cause of this as there appears to be many factors that can cause Insulin resistance such as a recent discovery of poor diets containing high amounts of processed meats. These processed meats are high in triglycerides which block the absorption of glucose in the blood as it builds up a layer of plaque that acts as a shield to glucose absorption in the blood stream. I will list a few examples of these foods below.
- Bacon, sausage and other processed meats
- Deli meats
- Hot dogs
- Fatty Red meats
- Cheeses and High fat Dairy products
Exercise is an important component to help insulin levels stay normal, maintain hormonal balance, and regulate metabolic function. It also helps decrease stress and stimulants (caffeine) to reduce the strain on often overworked adrenal glands, which contributes to better health overall. If your cortisol is high from stimulant overuse or lack of sleep then this can greatly reduce the amount of glucose your liver can break down during the night causing a high glucose reading upon waking. Their are several things that can assist you in having a better glucose reading outside of the balanced diet and good nights rest. I recommend at least waking up and getting yourself moving. Take a quick walk around the block or do a little jump rope or some jumping jacks and push ups if that’s all you have access to or if time is a problem. If you’re already implementing the proper diet and exercising then the next step could be to add in some good quality supplementation to help stabilize blood sugar levels and disposing of extra sugar in the blood stream.
Six of my favorites for helping to both manage blood sugar and sugar cravings are:
- L-glutamine an amino acid that speedily makes its way to the brain and becomes a quick source of energy
- Cinnamon – improves the effectiveness of insulin and increases glucose metabolism significantly
- Alpha Lipoic Acid- is an antioxidant found in spinach, broccoli, and tomatoes. (8) However, the clinical trials done using ALA use 500-1000 times more than you get in your diet, so if you want to use ALA to boost your insulin sensitivity then you're going to need to supplement it.
In several studies with Type II diabetics, the addition of ALA increases insulin sensitivity by 18-57%.(9-11) While the ALA dosages in these studies vary, 600mg per day may be the maximum effective dosage for diabetics. I'd prefer that you start with a lower dosage 50-100mg per day (the amount recommended for antioxidant purposes) and move up from there.
- Pump Dirt , is a powdered herb glucose disposal supplement from Innovapharm that I use right before each workout to help with the shuttling of glucose to my muscles while training. This gives me more usable fuel and helps to spare muscle as well as making sure those carbs are shuttled into my muscles instead of stored as fat. The pumps are intense and my muscles love the extra nutrient uptake and helps to keep me leaner as well!
- -Link to purchase Pump Dirt
- Matador is a capsuled herbal glucose disposal supplement from AD nutrition that I use with 2 meals a day. It works very similarly as the Pump Dirt above. MATADOR can help you achieve a fuller yet leaner physique at the same time! With perhaps the most advanced Glucose disposal agent ever released it can aid in you achieving lower body fat storage and a greater nutrient drive to the muscles.
Revive MD’s Glucose is an efficaciously-dosed, glucose disposal agent formula made with berberine as our foundation ingredient within the product. Glucose disposal agents (GDA) are a popular trend in the fitness and wellness arena. This is due to current research suggesting that ingredients with glucose management properties may interact with anti-aging and longevity pathways in the body. Berberine, the main active ingredient in this formula, has been tested in numerous clinical studies and has been a staple in traditional Chinese medicine.
The good news is that Insulin Resistance is not a life sentence, and so can easily be dealt with because glucose levels can be influenced by lifestyle, proper nutrition, and exercise and in some cases nutritional supplements. There are fasting blood glucose test that can be done to test for this condition and usually 2 hours after a meal as well to see how your blood glucose changes. If you want to pick my brain about this possible condition and possibly trying some natural supplements listed above which will not have any negative effect if used properly then give me a call or stop in to chat and let me hear about your concerns.