It is estimated that a huge part of our population now has Insulin Resistance. This is one step towards Metabolic Syndrome which has been shown to lead directly to diabetes. Symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome include weight gain (especially around the mid section), high blood pressure, fatigue, high cholesterol, poor thought process, mood swings, constant hunger, high triglycerides, elevated uric acid, etc.
What is Insulin Resistance?
When your body detects glucose in your bloodstream after a meal, insulin is released to signal the cells to bring in the sugar so it can be made into energy. The problem occurs when blood sugar is too high/too often, the cell membranes change to avoid bringing in too much sugar. This causes the cells to become “resistant” to the effects of insulin, hence the name. One way in which high insulin levels may lead to heath risk is by virtue of the fact that the only way the body can remove the excess sugar from the bloodstream is to convert it to fat. This mechanism allowed us to feast when food was plenty and survive when it was not, which is hardly an issue we face today.
What causes Insulin Resistance?
One of the most frequent causes of insulin resistance is simply our diet. This includes meals too high in sugars or grains or meals that do not contain enough fat, fiber or protein to slow down the insulin response. Fructose, or fruit sugar, has been shown to be especially harmful due to the way that it disrupts the lock and key fit between insulin and its receptor site. Fructose is capable of rapidly inducing insulin resistance in relatively small amounts (25 grams or more per day). Artificial sweeteners may also cause an insulin release WITHOUT a corresponding rise in blood sugar levels. Oh my…..
Besides diet, insulin resistance may be caused by consuming the wrong types of fats. Good fatty acids have two hydrogen molecules that attach to the outside of the cell. Bad fats (trans) that come from fried foods, hydrogenated oils, margarine, microwaved foods, etc. have only one molecule on the outside. Insulin cannot attach to this causing glucose to build up outside the cell.
If you are deficient in good fats or vitamin/minerals you may compromise the health of the cell membrane. Unhealthy cell membranes cannot effectively transfer nutrients like sugar into the cell. Likewise, they cannot effectively remove waste products either.
In addition to these, any type of chronic stress, thyroid issues, brain issues, vagal tone, etc have been found to increased blood sugar levels.
Our bodies are designed to keep us alive at all costs, so if you experience stress, the body responds by doing all the things it needs to do to run away from the source. Unfortunately, it doesn’t differentiate between the different sources and responds the same way whether it is physically, emotional, or spiritual. One of the mechanism it employs is to release cortisol to signal the release or manufacture of sugars to get energy to the muscles so they can physically handle the “opponent”. But if you don’t need to physically burn it off, the blood levels stay too high.
Research also indicates that that NFK-b activation via stress may be a contributing factor. NFK-b is a protein that is normally kept under control, but, once activated may lead to sugar dysregulation issues. Folks with head injuries, gut issues, or vagus nerve issues may also have a difficult time controlling blood sugar. These factor should be kept in mind for those who have removed all other risk factors but still have issues with high blood sugar and/or insulin resistance.
How do you test for blood sugar issues?
Functional Blood Chemistry offers data as to how our body utilizes blood sugar. Instead of looking at only the glucose marker, one should evaluate markers in unison such as LDH, Ha1C, fasting insulin, uric acid, lipid panel, etc to determine the extent to which dysregulation has manifested; whether it be Hypoglycemia, Reactive Hypoglycemia, Insulin Resistance, Metabolic Syndrome or full blown diabetes. Care must be taken to look at systemic issues with the adrenals and thyroid and conditions that drive dysfunction such as inflammation, infection, hormone imbalance, etc. BIA data provides information regarding the health of the cell membrane as well as body composition data.
What is the best way to control blood sugar?
It is important to consume a diet that contains balanced amounts of carbohydrate, protein, and fat to reduce a meal’s glycemic load to maintain optimal blood sugar and insulin levels. Be aware that even healthful foods like cooked carrots, cereals, potatoes, bread, and grains can have a higher glycemic index than table sugar. Fats should come from sources such as wild caught fish, raw nuts, olives, avocado, coconut, grass fed animal fat, etc.. (Some folks have a difficulty breaking down fats effectively and others are unable to convert omega 3 sources into EPA/DHA due to genetic issues and may need to be supported).
Meal timing and quantity are also important. For some folks to maintain stable blood sugar, they must remember to eat every few hours whether or not they are hungry. Just a small balanced snack may make the difference in one’s overall health. It is also important to consume a balanced meal within one hour of waking.
Exercising the brain and vagus nerve may also help support blood sugar regulation. Regular exercise is also important.
There are supplements that support blood sugar regulation as well. ALA has been shown to help with regulation while supporting detoxification at the same time! Cinnamon has been shown to aid in preventing Insulin Resistance as well as the minerals selenium, vanadium, magnesium, and chromium. Fiber is great to slow down sugar absorption and many herbs have regulatory abilities as well.