14 Ways To Lower Your Insulin Levels
Tips and tricks for keeping your insulin level down. By Franziska Spritzler, RD, CDE Insulin is an extremely important hormone that’s produced by your pancreas. It has many functions, such as allowing your cells to take in sugar from your blood for energy. However, too much insulin can lead to serious health problems. Having high levels, also known as hyperinsulinemia, has been linked to obesity, heart disease and cancer. High blood insulin levels also cause your cells to become resistant to the hormone’s effects. When you become insulin resistant, your pancreas produces even more insulin, creating a vicious cycle. Here are 14 things you can do to lower your insulin levels. 1. Follow a Low-Carb Diet Of the three macronutrients — carbs, protein and fat — carbs raise blood sugar and insulin levels the most.For this and other reasons, low-carb diets can be very effective for losing weight and controlling diabetes. Many studies have confirmed their ability to lower insulin levels and increase insulin sensitivity, compared to other diets. People with health conditions characterized by insulin resistance, such as metabolic syndrome and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), may experience a dramatic lowering of insulin with carb restriction. In one study, individuals with metabolic syndrome were randomized to receive either a low-fat or low-carb diet containing 1,500 calories.Insulin levels dropped by an average of 50% in the low-carb group, compared to 19% in the low-fat group.In another study, when women with PCOS ate a lower-carb diet containing enough calories to maintain their weight, they experienced greater reductions in insulin levels than when they ate a higher-carb diet. Bottom Line: Low-carb diets have been shown to increase insulin sensitivity and reduce insuli Continue reading >>
High Insulin Levels Could Lead To Obesity
An unexpected discovery has shown that certain widespread beliefs about healthy eating habits may be false, and actually causing people to put on weight. The finding came from a researcher at the University of British Columbia and was published in Cell Metabolism. The study set out to observe the role of insulin, which is hormone that permits the body to store blood sugar so that it can be used as energy later on. A lack of insulin causes diabetes, and, according to a different study in the same journal, impaired brain insulin action may be the cause of the unrestrained lipolysis which results in, and worsens, type 2 diabetes. After analyzing the role of insulin in animals, James Johnson, an associate professor or cellular and physiological sciences, discovered that too much insulin may be detrimental. Johnson split mice into two groups and provided both with a high-fat diet. One group, the control group, consisted of normal mice and the other consisted of mice which were bred to have only half the regular amount of insulin. Results showed that the normal mice became overweight, just as the scientist anticipated. However, the mice that had low levels of insulin did not gain weight due to the fact that their fat cells burned more energy while storing less. The mice that remained skinny had less swelling and had livers that were in better health. This meant, according to Johnson, that obesity resulted from the additional insulin that was made in the normal mice by the high-fat diet. In other words, mice, as well as humans, may produce more insulin than necessary. The research indicates that people can maintain a healthy weight by constantly bringing the levels of insulin back to a healthy minimum. This can be done by increasing the time between meals and eliminating snack Continue reading >>
What Is Insulin?
Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that allows your body to use sugar (glucose) from carbohydrates in the food that you eat for energy or to store glucose for future use. Insulin helps keeps your blood sugar level from getting too high (hyperglycemia) or too low (hypoglycemia). The cells in your body need sugar for energy. However, sugar cannot go into most of your cells directly. After you eat food and your blood sugar level rises, cells in your pancreas (known as beta cells) are signaled to release insulin into your bloodstream. Insulin then attaches to and signals cells to absorb sugar from the bloodstream. Insulin is often described as a “key,” which unlocks the cell to allow sugar to enter the cell and be used for energy. If you have more sugar in your body than it needs, insulin helps store the sugar in your liver and releases it when your blood sugar level is low or if you need more sugar, such as in between meals or during physical activity. Therefore, insulin helps balance out blood sugar levels and keeps them in a normal range. As blood sugar levels rise, the pancreas secretes more insulin. If your body does not produce enough insulin or your cells are resistant to the effects of insulin, you may develop hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), which can cause long-term complications if the blood sugar levels stay elevated for long periods of time. Insulin Treatment for Diabetes People with type 1 diabetes cannot make insulin because the beta cells in their pancreas are damaged or destroyed. Therefore, these people will need insulin injections to allow their body to process glucose and avoid complications from hyperglycemia. People with type 2 diabetes do not respond well or are resistant to insulin. They may need insulin shots to help them better process Continue reading >>
Insulin Resistance Speeds Up Cognitive Decline
Mounting research suggests Alzheimer’s disease is intricately connected to insulin resistance; even mild elevation of blood sugar is associated with an elevated risk for dementia A study that followed seniors with heart disease over 20 years found those with the highest levels of insulin resistance had the worst cognitive performance and scored lowest on memory and executive function tests Insulin resistance appears to promote cognitive decline by adversely impacting the blood vessels in your brain, promoting the formation of plaques and hindering memory formation By Dr. Mercola We are facing a tsunami of Alzheimer's disease. It's often said that the underlying causes of Alzheimer's disease are unknown, but there are numerous theories. For example, research suggesting that an infectious component is at play is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore. In addition to viruses, bacteria and fungi, an infectious protein called TDP-43, which behaves like infectious proteins known as prions — responsible for the brain destruction that occurs in Mad Cow and Chronic Wasting Diseases — has been linked to the disease. Research presented at the 2014 Alzheimer's Association International Conference revealed Alzheimer's patients with TDP-43 were 10 times more likely to have been cognitively impaired at death than those without.1 Due to its similarities with Mad Cow Disease, investigators have raised the possibility that Alzheimer's disease may be linked to eating meat from animals raised in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). Mounting research also suggests Alzheimer's disease is intricately connected to insulin resistance; even mild elevation of blood sugar is associated with an elevated risk for dementia.2 Diabetes and heart disease3 are also known to elevate yo Continue reading >>
Wtf Is Insulin And How Does It Affect Our Health And Fat Loss?
With so much written about diet versus exercise and exercise versus diet, it’s easy to overlook the role hormones play in our health and wellbeing, but they can make all the difference. That's why we’ve decided to take a closer look at the hormone insulin: What is it, and how does it relate to diabetes? Can we manipulate insulin to help us lose fat and live longer? As it turns out, we can—and pretty easily, too. What Is Insulin and How Does It Relate to Diabetes? Insulin is a super important hormone that helps us absorb nutrients from our food. Whenever we eat carbs (and a little bit when we eat protein), the amount of sugar in our blood increases, and the pancreas releases insulin to help take the sugar out of the bloodstream and into our organs (mostly the liver and muscle cells) where it can be used for energy . Diabetes is a disease that occurs when that insulin response doesn’t work properly and sugar piles up in the blood with nowhere to go. This can result in a whole lot of problems, including vision loss, hearing loss, high blood pressure, and gum disease. There are two main kinds of diabetes: Type 1 occurs when the pancreas produces little or no insulin. Type 2 occurs when insulin is produced, but the body doesn’t respond to it the right way. What causes Type 1 is often hard to pinpoint. Type 2 diabetes is increasingly common—some have estimated that a third of Americans born in 2000 will develop the disease—and a lot of the time, it can be prevented. How? Let’s talk insulin sensitivity. What Is Insulin Sensitivity? Doing a lot of something can make you less sensitive to its effects, right? Drinking coffee all the time can dull the caffeine, regular drinkers find they need more beers to get drunk than they used to, and so on. In kind of the same Continue reading >>
How Do Fats & Proteins Affect Blood Sugar Levels?
After you eat, your blood sugar levels increase and trigger the release of insulin, an important hormone in managing how your body uses glucose. Different types of nutrients affect blood sugar differently, and maintaining an appropriate intake of carbohydrates, proteins and fats will help control blood sugar levels and prevent or manage metabolic diseases like Type 2 diabetes. Carbohydrates, proteins and fats are the three macronutrients your body needs. Carbohydrates are primarily used for energy, while proteins are important for rebuilding tissue, and fats are important for maintaining cell membranes and facilitating vitamin absorption, among other functions. Carbohydrates have the most significant impact on blood sugar, so carbohydrate intake should be monitored closely by individuals with or at risk for Type 2 diabetes. Protein's Effects on Blood Sugar Compared to carbohydrates, protein keeps blood sugar levels steady. When consumed alone, protein does not generate a rise in blood sugar. According to a study published in 2003 in “American Society for Clinical Nutrition,” individuals with Type 2 diabetes who maintained a 30:40:30 intake ratio of protein to carbohydrates to fat showed a 40 percent lower blood sugar response than those who maintained a 15:55:30 intake ratio. This suggests that protein is neutral food for blood sugar levels and can replace at least some carbohydrates to yield a better overall blood sugar response. Fat's Effects on Blood Sugar Like protein, fat has significantly less impact on blood sugar than carbohydrates. When consumed alone, ingested fats have no bearing on the concentration of circulating blood sugar. Replacing some carbohydrate content with healthy dietary fats could therefore result in steadier overall levels of blood sugar. M Continue reading >>
Understanding Our Bodies: Insulin
Almost everyone has heard of Insulin. You probably know that people with type 1 diabetes need to inject themselves with insulin to survive, and must constantly monitor the amount of sugar they eat. But what do you really know about insulin? What is its purpose in the body, and why do we need it? How does it relate to our diets? What happens when things go wrong with it? And why should anyone who doesn’t have diabetes give a hoot? Insulin is one of the most important hormones in the human body, and yet most people don’t really understand why our bodies make it or how what we eat affects the levels of insulin we produce. More so than any other hormone, our diet is key in regulating insulin levels, and thus a number of biological processes. As you’ll soon see, everyone should think about how what they eat impacts their body’s insulin release to be at their happiest and healthiest. Why We Need Insulin Every living thing requires energy to survive. In cells, energy is stored and shuttled around using a molecule called Adenosine Tri-Phosphate, or ATP. Whenever the cell then has an energy-requiring reaction, enzymes can use the energy stored in ATP’s phosphate bonds to fuel it. Cells rely on ATP to survive, and to create ATP, they rely on glucose. All cells, from bacteria and fungi to us, take glucose and use it to generate ATP by a process called Oxidative Phosphorylation. First, glucose is converted to an intermediate molecule called pyruvate via a process called glycolosis. As long as there is oxygen around, this pyruvate is further converted to Acetyl CoA, which enters a cycle of reactions called the Citric Acid Cycle. This takes the carbon to carbon bonds and uses them to create high energy electrons, which are then passed down a chain of enzymes which use the e Continue reading >>
Insulin And Fat Storage
We left off last week with the question, “What prevents fat from leaving the fat cell?” If you missed out on it, you may want to read The Futility of Low-Calorie Diets. To quickly recap, we talked about the fact that your body has two main fuels: glucose (sugar) or fat. The preferred source of fuel is fat, but under certain circumstances, we can shift the body to using more sugar rather than fat. At times, such as being chased by a rabid dog, this is a good thing. However, it’s not a good thing if sugar remains the main fuel for most of the day. Relying on sugar means you’re not burning fat. Many people make lifestyle choices and nutrition decisions that have basically locked up their extra stored fat in their fat cells, making it useless for energy. The only way you can lose fat is if you use fat. You’ll be unsuccessful at losing fat if you don’t burn fat, even if you eat fewer calories and burn more through exercise. You can lose weight, but most of the loss will come from lean body mass, or muscle tissue, not fat. Fat Storage and Insulin The most significant factor in fat storage is the level of insulin in the blood. Insulin has many effects on the body. With respect to fat storage, insulin increases the storage of fat in fat cells and prevents fat cells from releasing fat for energy. This is such a key point for people to understand that I’ll repeat it: Insulin increases the storage of fat in fat cells and prevents the cells from releasing it for energy. Eight hormones stimulate fat utilization: epinephrine, norepinephrine, adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH), glucagon, thyroid-stimulating hormone, melanocyte-stimulating hormone, vasopressin and growth hormone. One hormone prevents fat utilization: insulin. The pancreas releases insulin when blood suga Continue reading >>
Prediabetes & Insulin Resistance
What is insulin? Insulin is a hormone made in the pancreas, an organ located behind the stomach. The pancreas contains clusters of cells called islets. Beta cells within the islets make insulin and release it into the blood. Insulin plays a major role in metabolism—the way the body uses digested food for energy. The digestive tract breaks down carbohydrates—sugars and starches found in many foods—into glucose. Glucose is a form of sugar that enters the bloodstream. With the help of insulin, cells throughout the body absorb glucose and use it for energy. Insulin's Role in Blood Glucose Control When blood glucose levels rise after a meal, the pancreas releases insulin into the blood. Insulin and glucose then travel in the blood to cells throughout the body. Insulin helps muscle, fat, and liver cells absorb glucose from the bloodstream, lowering blood glucose levels. Insulin stimulates the liver and muscle tissue to store excess glucose. The stored form of glucose is called glycogen. Insulin also lowers blood glucose levels by reducing glucose production in the liver. In a healthy person, these functions allow blood glucose and insulin levels to remain in the normal range. What happens with insulin resistance? In insulin resistance, muscle, fat, and liver cells do not respond properly to insulin and thus cannot easily absorb glucose from the bloodstream. As a result, the body needs higher levels of insulin to help glucose enter cells. The beta cells in the pancreas try to keep up with this increased demand for insulin by producing more. As long as the beta cells are able to produce enough insulin to overcome the insulin resistance, blood glucose levels stay in the healthy range. Over time, insulin resistance can lead to type 2 diabetes and prediabetes because the bet Continue reading >>
Fasting Physiology – Part Ii
There are many misconceptions about fasting. It is useful to review the physiology of what happens to our body when we eat nothing. Physiology Glucose and fat are the body’s main sources of energy. If glucose is not available, then the body will adjust by using fat, without any detrimental health effects. This is simply a natural part of life. Periods of low food availability have always been a part of human history. Mechanisms have evolved to adapt to this fact of Paleolithic life. The transition from the fed state to the fasted state occurs in several stages. Feeding – During meals, insulin levels are raised. This allows uptake of glucose into tissues such as the muscle or brain to be used directly for energy. Excess glucose is stored as glycogen in the liver. The post-absorptive phase – 6-24 hours after beginning fasting. Insulin levels start to fall. Breakdown of glycogen releases glucose for energy. Glycogen stores last for roughly 24 hours. Gluconeogenesis – 24 hours to 2 days – The liver manufactures new glucose from amino acids in a process called “gluconeogenesis”. Literally, this is translated as “making new glucose”. In non-diabetic persons, glucose levels fall but stay within the normal range. Ketosis – 2-3 days after beginning fasting – The low levels of insulin reached during fasting stimulate lipolysis, the breakdown of fat for energy. The storage form of fat, known as triglycerides, is broken into the glycerol backbone and three fatty acid chains. Glycerol is used for gluconeogenesis. Fatty acids may be used for directly for energy by many tissues in the body, but not the brain. Ketone bodies, capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier, are produced from fatty acids for use by the brain. After four days of fasting, approximately 75 Continue reading >>
Signs Of Insulin Resistance
What is insulin resistance? Insulin is a hormone made by your pancreas. It allows your cells to use glucose (sugar) for energy. People with insulin resistance have cells throughout their bodies that don’t use insulin effectively. This means the cells have trouble absorbing glucose, which causes a buildup of sugar in their blood. If your blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be considered type 2 diabetes, you have a condition called prediabetes caused by insulin resistance. It’s not entirely clear why some people develop insulin resistance and others don’t. A sedentary lifestyle and being overweight increases the chance of developing prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. The effects of insulin resistance Insulin resistance typically doesn’t trigger any noticeable symptoms. You could be insulin resistant for years without knowing, especially if your blood glucose levels aren’t checked. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) estimates that nearly 70 percent of individuals with insulin resistance and prediabetes will go on to develop type 2 diabetes if significant lifestyle changes aren’t made. Some people with insulin resistance may develop a skin condition known as acanthosis nigricans. This condition creates dark patches often on the back of the neck, groin, and armpits. Some experts believe it may be caused by a buildup of insulin within skin cells. There’s no cure for acanthosis nigricans, but if caused by a specific condition, treatment may allow for some of your natural skin color to return. Insulin resistance increases the risk of being overweight, having high triglycerides, and having elevated blood pressure. Since insulin resistance increases your risk for progressing to diabetes, you may not notice right away if you develop Continue reading >>
Pcos: Insulin And Metformin
Young women with PCOS often have elevated insulin levels and are more likely to develop diabetes. Metformin is a medication often prescribed for women with PCOS to help prevent diabetes. A lifestyle that includes healthy nutrition and daily exercise is the most important part of a PCOS treatment plan. What is insulin? Insulin is a hormone made by an organ in the body called the pancreas. The food you eat is broken down into simple sugar (glucose) during digestion. Glucose is absorbed into the blood after you eat. Insulin helps glucose enter the cells of the body to be used as energy. If there’s not enough insulin in the body, or if the body can’t use the insulin, sugar levels in the blood become higher. What is insulin resistance? If your body is resistant to insulin, it means you need high levels of insulin to keep your blood sugar normal. Certain medical conditions such as being overweight or having PCOS can cause insulin resistance. Insulin resistance tends to run in families. What can insulin resistance do to me? High insulin levels can cause thickening and darkening of the skin (acanthosis nigricans) on the back of the neck, axilla (under the arms), and groin area. In young women with PCOS, high insulin levels can cause the ovaries to make more androgen hormones such as testosterone. This can cause increased body hair, acne, and irregular or few periods. Having insulin resistance can increase your risk of developing diabetes. How can I lower my insulin levels? You can help lower your insulin levels naturally by eating fewer starches and sugars, and more foods that are high in fiber and low in refined carbohydrates. Low glycemic foods, on the other hand, don’t raise your blood sugar or insulin levels as much as foods that are high in sugar or refined carbohydr Continue reading >>
Insulin And Potassium
Insulin has a number of actions on the body besides lowering your blood glucose levels. Insulin suppresses the breakdown and buildup of glycogen, which is the storage form of glucose, it blocks fat metabolism and the release of fatty acids, and it puts potassium into the cells by activating the sodium-potassium cellular channels. Insulin stimulates the uptake of glucose and potassium in all cells of the body but primarily fuels the muscle cells as well as some of the fat cells. In type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome (a form of metabolic disease), insulin is not functioning up to its normal level. The cells of the body become resistant to insulin and the blood sugar levels are elevated. The serum potassium (K+) level is a reflection of the total body stores of potassium, although it can be inaccurate in some conditions that affect the distribution of potassium in the body’s cells. The plasma potassium level determines the resting potential of the cells of the body. A person can have low potassium (hypokalemia) or high potassium (hyperkalemia), both of which are asymptomatic conditions that can be serious as they both cause heart arrhythmias. The Relationship between Insulin and Potassium Shortly after insulin was discovered, scientists revealed that insulin had something to do with the potassium levels in both the cells and in the blood. The insulin is the hormone in the body that keeps the potassium level in the blood within the normal range. When insulin is decreased, the potassium level rises and can rise even further if you eat something high in potassium, such as salt substitutes and bananas. When the potassium level is high, it causes the pancreas to release insulin in order to counteract the effects of high potassium levels. When you eat something that is high Continue reading >>
High Blood Sugar After Exercise?
back to Overview Markus, one of our great German-language authors, wrote about struggling with high blood sugar after exercise. I know it's a common problem, and one I've struggled with personally, so I want to make sure you get to see it, too. From Markus Berndt: It’s one of the first recommendations you get after being diagnosed with diabetes. “Get active, do more exercise, it’s good for you!” And since we’ve been a child we’ve heard that exercise is healthy. If we do it consistently we’re rewarded, literally, with an awesome beach body. Adding exercise into our day is also good for our diabetes. We’re taught that exercise lowers blood sugar, right? But can the opposite also be true? Can you have high blood sugar after exercise? Up close We now know that physical activity usually lowers blood sugar because it reduces how much insulin is needed to move sugar into the cells. While, in the past, most experts advised frequent training intervals at moderate intensity, but recent studies have shown that even short, intense workouts are very effective. For example, a 15-minute intense weight training lowered blood sugar even more than what’s seen in some endurance training. So activity lowers blood sugar – but not always! Personally, I experienced this very early on and was extremely irritated! I just learned that exercise lowers blood sugar, but an intense 45-minute run consistently resulted in higher blood sugars than when I started! What in the world? At first, I was confused and felt like I didn’t understand the world anymore. Then it was more of a “would you look at this?” kind of thing. And finally, I was determined to figure out what was happening. I knew there had to be an explanation. Why does exercise sometimes raise blood sugar? Exercise Continue reading >>
Blood Sugar & Stress
When stressed, the body prepares itself. Insulin levels fall, glucagon and epinephrine levels rise, and more glucose is available in the blood stream. What happens to my blood sugar levels when I’m stressed? During stressful situations, epinephrine (adrenaline), glucagon, growth hormone and cortisol play a role in blood sugar levels. Stressful situations include infections, serious illness or significant emotion stress. When stressed, the body prepares itself by ensuring that enough sugar or energy is readily available. Insulin levels fall, glucagon and epinephrine (adrenaline) levels rise and more glucose is released from the liver. At the same time, growth hormone and cortisol levels rise, which causes body tissues (muscle and fat) to be less sensitive to insulin. As a result, more glucose is available in the blood stream. When you have type 2 diabetes, low blood sugars from too much medication or insulin are a common cause of stress. The hormonal response to a low blood sugar includes a rapid release of epinephrine and glucagon, followed by a slower release of cortisol and growth hormone. These hormonal responses to the low blood sugar may last for 6-8 hours – during that time the blood sugar may be difficult to control. The phenomena of a low blood sugar followed by a high blood sugar is called a “rebound” or “Somogyi” reaction. When you have type 2 diabetes, stress may make your blood sugar go up and become more difficult to control – and you may need to take higher doses of your diabetes medications or insulin. During times of stress, individuals with diabetes, may have more difficulty controlling their blood sugars. Self-assessment Quiz Self assessment quizzes are available for topics covered in this website. To find out how much you have learned ab Continue reading >>