I’m sure we’ve all heard of the hormone insulin. But, what is insulin resistance and why should you even care what it is? Approximately 80% of US Americans are insulin resistant in the world today. This is a scary statistic, especially because inusulin resistance is PRE-DIABETIC and no one even really knows that this is happening inside of their bodies.
What is Insulin’s Role in the Body?
Before we dig in to the nitty gritty, let’s talk about insulin and it’s role inside the human body. Insulin is a hormone produced by the beta-cells located in the pancreas. The pancreas, which is located under the stomach also produces enzymes that aid in our digestion.
Insulin has many functions. One of the many functions involves regulating the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates. The digestive system breaks down carbohydrates, such as sugars and starches, into a molecule called glucose. Glucose can be used by the cells to produce energy. Insulin allows the cells in the body to absorb glucose or sugar ultimately lowering the sugar that is present in the blood stream.
Insulin is your body’s defense mechanism against sugar in the body because sugar is TOXIC to the body. After a meal is consumed, blood glucose levels increase and the pancreas responds by releasing insulin into the blood. Insulin is like a traffic cop. It will direct fat, glucose, vitamins, minerals and amino acids to the cells that need them.
Insulin in the body acts as a “feedback loop” within the body. When your cells are thoroughly fed, it will send a signal back to the pancreas to stop releasing insulin.
Unfortunately for many Americans, and other people throughout the world, levels of glucose and insulin are imbalanced. Insulin resistance is a condition in which the feedback loop throws errors. The body will not respond to normal actions of insulin. Muscle, liver and fat cells have difficulty “hearing” the shut off notice. In order to compensate for this, the body produces much more insulin than it needs. In fact, people who have insulin resistance have approximately 5-7 times more insulin in their body than someone who’s body is functioning correctly.
As insulin resistance builds up, the beta cells in the pancreas are unable to produce sufficient insulin to regulate blood glucose. As a result, glucose levels can elevate and result in prediabetes, diabetes, and other chronic health conditions.
Insulin has other jobs as well. For instance, protein will go into the cell with the help of insulin. When the body is resistant to insulin, the cells will not absorb the amount of protein needed because the receptors are “turned off”. That is why you’ll see diabetic patients having loss of collagen, muscle weakness, and joint and disc issues.
Also potassium can not enter the cell when you are insulin resistant. Without potassium entering the cell, one may have increased fatigue, higher sodium levels (aka inflammation and swelling in the body), increase in heart rate, increase in blood pressure, arrythmias, palpitations, edema and swelling in legs and feet, muscle cramps and even constipation.
Insulin resistance is very common. An estimated 24% of US adults are said to be insulin resistant. Many people are unaware they have it until they develop Type 2 Diabetes.
Signs that you may be insulin resistant.
How Do I Treat Insulin Resistance?
Given the prevalence of insulin resistance, how can one treat this effectively? The FDA unfortunately hasn’t approved any drugs to specifically treat insulin resistance or pre-diabetes. However, some physicians will prescribe two classes of drugs that are normally used in type 2 diabetes.
With that being said, is this the best course of action to take? Should you treat high insulin or insulin resistance with MORE INSULIN? No. The best way to treat insulin resistance is to modify one’s lifestyle behaviors. Food choices and exercise are considered to be the most effective methods in restoring the ability of tissues to properly respond to insulin.
In order to reduce the secretion of insulin in the body, we recommend lowering carbohydrate intake and practice intermittent fasting.
Provided that the ketogenic diet is an effective method in losing weight and lowering blood glucose, can it be utilized to lower insulin resistance and increase levels of insulin in the body? We say yes.
The majority of human studies on how the keto diet impacts blood sugar control share a similar theme: a low carb, high fat diet has the potential to REVERSE insulin resistance.
Although there is no “standard” dietary treatment for insulin resistance, we do have promising evidence that supports the effectiveness of four factors.
1. Calorie restriction.
Most of the research on type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance supports the use of calorie restriction for improving many metabolic issues that contribute to these conditions. Both the keto diet and low cal diets have been shown to reduce insulin resistance.
One way to reduce insulin resistance and increase insulin sensitivity is by putting your cells in an “underfed” or energy-deficient state. Although eating fewer calories is the simplest approach to reducing insulin resistance, it’s not easy for many of us to implement successfully. Bee-Xtreme appetite suppressants were designed to help with just that.
2. Body Fat Reduction
Although calorie restriction directly decrease insulin resistance by reducing the energy load on our cells, it also improves insulin signaling indirectly by reducing body fat. Both visceral and subcutaneous fat play a role in insulin resistance.
Where does the excess insulin go? Visceral FAT. It’s the type of fat that accumulates in our abdominal region, around our vital organs. This insidious type of fat has been found to act as an endocrine organ, secreting various signaling molecules that can, directly and indirectly, increase insulin resistance. By reducing our visceral fat stores, we can decrease the secretion of these potentially harmful signaling molecules and improve overall metabolic health. This will increase sensitivity.
3. Carbohydrate restriction
To help diabetics manage their blood sugar levels, doctors will typically prescribe a diet that mostly consists of low glycemic index foods. They will advise against eating foods that cause huge increases in blood sugar levels as a way to help the patient regulate his levels without needing much medication.
One way of doing this without medications is decreasing carbohydrate consumption in the diet. Since carbs are the only macronutrient that can cause significant fluctuations in blood sugar levels, restricting them will reduce your insulin needs and potentially increase insulin sensitivity.
By restricting carbs to the degree that the keto diet recommends, you will stimulate the production of ketones and eventually enter
nutritional ketosis. As a result, you will start burning more ketones as a way to make up for the lack of dietary carbohydrates.
Ketones also play a crucial role as signaling molecules that stimulate specific genetic processes related to metabolic health and longevity. For example, our primary ketone body, beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), has been found to inhibit some histone deacetylases (HDACs) in a way that may lower glucose and insulin levels, decrease insulin resistance, prevent weight gain, and improve energy efficiency.
Unfortunately, most of the research on the signaling properties of ketones has been done on mice, so it is unclear if ketones will do the same for humans. With that being said, ketones have been found to be an appetite suppressant in humans. This means that they can indirectly improve insulin sensitivity by causing us to eat fewer calories.
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Toni Sweeney is a Triple Certified Ketogenic Diet and Primal Health Coach and weight loss expert who personally lost 80 pounds while making a total lifestyle change. The founder of TS Transformations, her formulas and plans has helped thousands of women lose weight and keep it off forever.
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