Insulin Resistance? What is it and How to Prevent it?

Most of us know enough about Type 1 Diabetes to understand it is a result of reduced insulin production. Typically genetic, Type 1 tends to emerge early in those afflicted. Since 1921 when Banting & Best began insulin shots testing, the death rate from Type 1 dropped off, and insulin was hailed as a “miracle cure”(3). Insulin has also been found to help subjects with Type 2 diabetes, but not all. In fact, most may already have excess insulin in their system, and adding more can potentially be dangerous (1). This majority we refer to as “Insulin Resistant”.

Believe it or not, too much insulin in the body can actually cause you to gain weight. A consistent and excessive amount in your system can teach underutilized muscle cells to build a tolerance to high levels of glucose produced by insulin. The body then finds a place to store these sugars as fat. Since fat cells tend to be more sensitive than other cells, they thrive in this atmosphere.

These pounds can be especially difficult to lose until insulin production has been regulated.

How To Check If You Are Insulin Resistant

  1. Belly Fat – The easiest place to store excess fat is around the abdomen and less around the muscles of arms or legs. This is often referred to as a “potbelly”.
  2. Fasting Blood Sugar > 105
  3. Blood Pressure > 130/85
  4. Triglyceride Level > 150
  5. HDL (Good Cholesterol) < 40 for men, or < 50 for women

High levels of insulin in the body can be caused by “sugar spikes”. After rapidly eating large meals packed with refined sugars and carbohydrates, our body expects an onslaught and produces as much insulin as possible to prepare for metabolism. This insulin remains in the system long after it is necessary and can create residual hunger.

With corn, rice, and other starches being some of the cheapest to produce and consume nowadays, this can be quite common. Sugars and starches are quickly absorbed in the small intestine. High-fiber foods can travel many meters before absorption, while refined carbohydrates may only go inches.

How to Prevent Insulin Resistance

Not surprisingly, the best defense is proper exercise. When your muscles utilize sugars in the bloodstream, there is less excess to result in fat. Unfortunately, as a whole, we are exercising less than ever. The days of walking to work and having physically taxing positions are going the way of the do-do. While we may not be able to convince society to take up jogging, there are several steps to take to avoid sugar spikes and Insulin Resistance.

The following may help control weight gain, reducing the risk of heart complications, and fight Insulin Resistance:

  1. Space Out Carb Consumption – Avoiding carbohydrates altogether might be ideal, but perhaps an unrealistic change for many. It is more important to focus on understanding the possibility to lose weight and control blood sugar levels simply by regulating how you intake your food. For instance, eating a sandwich with 2 slices of bread at once would spike your insulin levels higher than eating 2 pieces of toast an hour or more apart.
  2. Eat Smaller Meals, More Often – Allow the insulin you already have in your system the time to metabolize carbs without more being created by the pancreas.
  3. Starch Blockers – Natural supplements can stop Amylase, the enzyme that turns starch to sugar. (i.e. white kidney beans contain the Starch Blocker, Phaseolamin)
  4. Order Salad First – When you are at a restaurant, order your salad immediately, and eat that before you begin consuming bread, pasta, or rice. By creating a barrier between carbs and your stomach lining, you can impede the absorption process.
  5. Eat High-Fiber Foods – These take longer to digest and can dilute your starchy foods from being processed. Avoid anything “refined” as these carbs are absorbed too quickly and result in sugar spiking.
  6. Adopt a Healthy Lifestyle Routine – The best strategy for our life is to adopt a healthy lifestyle routine. This means take healthy foods, stay hydrated, follow a daily exercise plan and take necessary vitamins in consultation with the health practitioner. Our philosophy is that prevention is the best approach for a healthy, positive and enriching life.

BONUS: Whenever possible, move your body! Even light exercising after a meal creates a glucose requirement in the muscles and less to end up as fat.

References:

1. Thompson, Rob MD, (2012) The Sugar Blockers Diet.

2. The American Diabetes Association, http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/21/10/1637.short

3. http://www.diabetes.org/research-and-practice/student-resources/history-of-diabetes.html

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