Insulin and Sugar – The One Hormone You NEED to Control
You have heard “insulin” discussed here many times, I’ve said that sugar is your #1 enemy in Fat Loss 101, and I have also said that the biggest health factor that contributes to most all degenerative diseases as being insulin resistance. But really…it’s quite simple to just take control, and that is what we need to do (as we do have full control and responsibility for everything we put in our mouths). Looking at the Standard Food Pyramid above that has been taught to everyone (esp kids) as the healthy way to eat….is it any wonder our rates of obesity, diabetes, cancer and other diseases are skyrocketing?
Well below are some great takes from a lecture done by Dr Rosedale from 1999. The full (and long but very worthwhile read) transcript can be found here (and many other places). The end result is, the more we learn about insulin and how to control it, the quicker we will improve our health and help to increase prevention from degenerative diseases. Once you really understand the damaging aspects of high insulin, insulin resistance and eating sugar…why would anyone want to continue down a road of increased risks of degenerative diseases and aging? Take control back and help those around you to do the same!
There are three major centenarian studies going on around the world. They are trying to find the variable that would confer longevity among these people. Why do centenarians become centenarians? Why are they so lucky? Is it because they have low cholesterol, exercise a lot, live a healthy, clean life?
Well the longest recorded known person who has ever lived, Jean Calumet of France who died last year at 122 years, smoked all of her life and drank.
What they are finding on these major centenarian studies is that there is hardly anything in common among them. They have high cholesterol and low cholesterol, some exercise and some don’t, some smoke, some don’t. Some are nasty as can be and some nice and calm and nice. Some are ornery, but they all low sugar, relatively for their age. They all have low triglycerides for their age.
And they all have relatively low insulin. Insulin is the common denominator in everything I’ve just talked about. They way to treat cardiovascular disease and the way I treated my stepfather, the way I treated the high risk cancer patient, and osteoporosis, high blood pressure, the way to treat virtually all the so-called chronic diseases of aging is to treat insulin itself.
If there is a single marker for lifespan, as they are finding in the centenarian studies, it is insulin, specifically, insulin sensitivity.
How sensitive are your cells to insulin. When they are not sensitive, the insulin levels go up. Who has heard of the term insulin resistance?
Insulin resistance is the basis of all of the chronic diseases of aging, because the disease itself is actually aging.
We know now that aging is a disease. The other case studies that I mentioned, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, obesity, diabetes, cancer, all the so-called chronic diseases of aging, auto-immune diseases, those are symptoms.
We’ve known for many years that sugar depresses the immune system.
We have known that for decades. It was only in the 70′s that they found out that vitamin C was needed by white blood cells so that they could phagocytize bacteria and viruses. White blood cells require a fifty times higher concentration at least inside the cell as outside so they have to accumulate vitamin C.
There is something called a phagocytic index which tells you how rapidly a particular macrophage or lymphocyte can gobble up a virus, bacteria, or cancer cell. It was in the 70′s that Linus Pauling knew that white blood cells needed a high dose of vitamin C and that is when he came up with his theory that you need high doses of vitamin C to combat the common cold.
But if we know that vitamin C and glucose have similar chemical structure, what happens when the sugar levels go up? They compete for one another upon entering the cells. And the thing that mediates the entry of vitamin C into the cells is the same thing that mediates the entry of glucose into the cells. If there is more glucose around there is going to be less vitamin C allowed into the cell and it doesn’t take much. A blood sugar value of 120 reduces the phagocytic index seventy-five percent.
What is the purpose of insulin in humans? If you ask your doctor, they will say that it’s to lower blood sugar and I will tell you right now, that is a trivial side effect. Insulin’s evolutionary purpose, among others at least known right now, we are looking at others, is to store excess nutrients.
We come from a time of feast and famine and if we couldn’t store the excess energy during times of feasting, we would all not be here, because we all have had ancestors that encountered famine. So we are only here because our ancestors were able to store nutrients, and they were able to store nutrients because they were able to elevate their insulin in response to any elevation in energy that the organism encountered.
When your body notices that the sugar is elevated, it is a sign that you’ve got more than you need right now, you are not burning it so it is accumulating in your blood. So insulin will be released to take that sugar and store it.
Once you fill up your glycogen stores how is that sugar is stored, as what particular kind of triglyceride, or fatty acid? Palmitic acid. Saturated fat, ninety-eight percent of which is palmitic acid.
So the idea of the medical profession to go on a high complex carbohydrate, low saturated-fat diet is an absolute oxymoron, because those high complex carbohydrate diets are nothing but a high glucose diet, or a high sugar diet, and your body is just going to store it as saturated fat. The body makes it into saturated fat quite readily.
What is one of magnesium’s major roles?
To relax muscles. Intracellular magnesium relaxes muscles. What happens when you can’t store magnesium because the cell is resistant? You lose magnesium and your blood vessels constrict, what does that do?
Increases blood pressure, and reduces energy since intracellular magnesium is required for all energy producing reactions that take place in the cell. But most importantly, magnesium is also necessary for the action of insulin. It is also necessary for the manufacture of insulin.
So then you raise your insulin, you lose magnesium, and the cells become even more insulin resistant. Blood vessels constrict, glucose and insulin can’t get to the tissues, which makes them more insulin resistant, so the insulin levels go up and you lose more magnesium. This is the vicious cycle that goes on from before you were born.
Insulin also causes the retention of sodium, which causes the retention of fluid, which causes high blood pressure and fluid retention: congestive heart failure.
One of the strongest stimulants of the sympathetic nervous system is high levels of insulin.
What does all of this do to the heart? Not very good things.
There was a study done a couple of years ago, a good, down to earth nicely conducted study that showed that heart attacks are two to three times more likely to happen after a high carbohydrate meal. They said specifically NOT after a high fat meal.
Why is that?
Because the immediate effects of raising your blood sugar from a high carbohydrate meal is to raise insulin and that immediately triggers the sympathetic nervous system which will cause arterial spasm, constriction of the arteries. If you take anybody prone to a heart attack and that is when they are going to get it.
Cells become insulin resistant because they are trying to protect themselves from the toxic effects of high insulin. They down regulate their receptor activity and number of receptors so that they don’t have to listen to that noxious stimuli all the time. It is like having this loud, disgusting rap music played and you want to turn the volume down.
This is the same thing with insulin resistance. What happens is that if your cells are exposed to insulin at all they get a little bit more resistant to it. So the pancreas just puts out more insulin. I saw a patient today, her blood sugar was 102 and her insulin was 90! She wasn’t sure if she was fasting or not, but I’ve seen other patients where their blood sugar was under 100 and their fasting insulin has been over 90.
That is a fasting insulin. I’m not sure how many people are familiar with seeing fasting insulins. But if I drank all the glucose I could possibly drink my insulin would never go above probably 40. So she was extremely insulin resistant.
All of those sugars are as bad or worse for you than glucose. You can’t just go by so-called blood sugar which is just blood glucose, because we just don’t measure blood fructose or blood galactose, but they are all bad for you. Why are they bad, well number one we know that it provokes insulin and every time you provoke insulin it exposes yourself to more insulin and just like walking in a smelly room it is going to become more resistant to insulin.
So every time you have a surge of sugar and you have a surge of insulin, you get more and more insulin resistant and all of the problems we’ve talked about.
Diet really becomes pretty simple. Carbohydrates we started talking about. You’ve got fiber and non-fiber and that’s real clear-cut. Fiber is good, non-fiber is bad. Fibrous carbs, like vegetables and broccoli, those are great. What is a potato? A potato is a big lump of sugar. That’s all it is. You chew a potato, what are you swallowing? Glucose. You may not remember, but you learned that in eighth grade, but the medical profession still hasn’t learned that.
You know you need to breathe oxygen. It gives us life and it kills us. Same with glucose. Certain tissues require some glucose. We wouldn’t be here if there were no glucose, it gives us life and it kills us. We know that we have essential amino acids and we have essential fatty acids. They are essential for life, we better take them in as building blocks or we die. So what he did is he took all the essential nutrients that are known to man and plugged it in to this computer data bank and he asked the computer what are the top ten foods that contain each nutrient that is required by the human body. Each of the fifty-three or fifty-four, depending on who you talk to, essential nutrients that there are were plugged in, and did you know that grains did not come up in the top ten on any one. What is the minimum daily requirement for carbohydrates? ZERO.
In an active day you would die if you had to rely one-hundred percent on sugar.
Why doesn’t your body store more sugar if it is so needed? Sugar was never meant to be your primary energy source.
It is a turbo charger, a very hot burning fuel, if you need fuel over and above what fat can provide you will dig into your glycogen and burn sugar. But your primary energy source as we are here right now should be almost all fat.
If you eat sugar your body will burn it and you stop burning fat.
We only have one hormone that lowers sugar, and that’s insulin. Its primary use was never to lower sugar. We’ve got a bunch of hormones that raise sugar, cortisone being one and growth hormone another, and epinephrine, and glucagon.
Our primary evolutionary problem was to raise blood sugar to give your brain enough and your nerves enough and primarily red blood cells, which require glucose. So from an evolutionary sense if something is important we have redundant mechanisms. The fact that we only have one hormone that lowers sugar tells us that it was never something important in the past.
The biggest stress on your body is eating a big glucose load.
You can increase sensitivity by diet, that is one of the major reasons you want to take Omega 3 oils. We think of circulation as that which flows through arteries and veins, and that is not a minor part of our circulation, but it might not even be the major part. The major part of circulation is what goes in and out of the cell.
The cell membrane is a fluid mosaic. The major part of our circulation is determined by what goes in and out. It doesn’t make any difference what gets to that cell if it can’t get into the cell. We know that one of the major ways that you can affect cellular circulation is by modulating the kinds of fatty acids that you eat. So you can increase receptor sensitivity by increasing the fluidity of the cell membrane, which means increasing the omega 3 content, because most people are very deficient.
To store energy and not burn it. I see a fair amount of athletes and this is what I tell them, you want everybody, athletes especially, to be able to burn fat efficiently. So when they train, they are on a very low carbohydrate diet. The night before their event, they can stock up on sugar and load their glycogen if they would like.
They are not going to become insulin resistant in one day. Just enough to make sure, it has been shown that if you eat a big carbohydrate meal that you will increase your glycogen stores, that is true and that is what you want. But you don’t want to train that way because if you do you won’t be able to burn fat, you can only burn sugar, and if you are an athlete you want to be able to burn both.
It is a high protein diet that will increase an acid load in the body, but not necessarily a high fat diet. Vegetables and greens are alkalinizing, so if you are eating a lot of vegetables along with your protein it equalizes the acidifying effect of the protein. I don’t recommend a high protein diet. I recommend an adequate protein diet. I would go 20% of calories from carbs. Depending on the size of the person, 25 to 30% of calories from protein, and 60-65% from fat.
I can not put it any better myself. I highly recommend reading the full article as he goes into much more depth and details esp with certain diseases and treatments. In the end, the best thing you can do is:
- Eat a lower carb diet (it doesn’t have to be 30g a day, but even 100g a day is quite low in comparison). Since everyone is different with their insulin resistance, activity levels, recovery needs and hypoglycemia variables, you have to tweak to your condition (always work with your physician especially if you are diabetic or on medicine). A diabetic may get more benefit from a low 50g a day while an active person may be fine at 100+g/day. Again if you have any real concerns you should always work with a professional physician to help monitor.
- A higher whole food carb meal (along with protein) is best timed at peak insulin sensitivity, aka the post workout window when they will most likely go into muscle glycogen.
- Eat moderate protein and moderate/high fat (healthy) – Eat protein to slow down the gastric emptying with every meal (controls insulin) and increase fat intake to keep your calories high enough not to be in starvation response and to fuel your body’s energy needs. Fat does not effect insulin levels, so eating a higher fat diet has a completely (and better) insulin response than a higher carb diet.
- Avoid sugar and eat only whole natural foods (not processed). Things like Fruits, while healthy can also have sugar (in the form of fructose). Depending on your starting point, you may want to limit or avoid fruit for a while. Those that are more active or have increased insulin sensitivity may do fine with higher fruit intake (esp if you time them around your workouts). Again, starting points in health will vary by person.
- Exercise! Yep. Resistance/strength training is the best way to help those muscle cells to become more insulin sensitive and suck up higher floating blood glucose levels. So get out and do some pushups, lift something heavy and do some sprints (or what you can).
- Periods of Fasting also can help lower insulin resistance/increase insulin sensitivity/decrease fasting insulin levels. If you are going deaf, how do you improve your hearing quicker…by turning down the music a little or having periods of complete silence? Hence why you see IF have a greater impact on fasting insulin levels than a CR diet.
- Supplement with some Fish Oil, as it will help increase and repair those insulin receptors on the cells while also helping to lower overall inflammation.
In the end, if you are doing a Lower carb/higher fat/mod protein “Paleo” food like diet with occasional higher pwo whole food (not sugary drinks) carbs after resistance/weight training, that is a pretty solid healthy plan (esp if you add in the fact you are probably only doing 3 workouts a week and other factors like IF and Fish Oil). Add in grass fed meats/eggs and not grain fed and you are going to be in pretty good health and do wonders for decreasing insulin resistance (and inflammation) and slowing down/reversing any risks for degenerative diseases (aging)! Not too mention the great results you will get for fat loss, muscle and increased performance!
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