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 >>
A Practical Guide To Carb Tolerance And Insulin Sensitivity
One of the biggest reasons why people go Paleo is the metabolic benefits. Most people find Paleo to be very therapeutic for a whole cluster of carb-related problems: high blood sugar (or the rollercoaster of highs and lows), insulin resistance, and all the related issues. These issues can make weight loss difficult or impossible, but on the flip side, addressing them through diet can make it easier and more pleasant than you ever thought could happen! On the other hand, though, there are a lot of myths and half-truths floating around about diet, exercise, and carb metabolism. So here’s a quick review of what it all means, and the evidence supporting various different complementary strategies for improving your carb tolerance (preview: it’s so much more than dietary carbs). Note: This article is not written for diabetics. Diabetes is a very complicated disease and strategies that are right for other people might not be appropriate. If you have diabetes, see a doctor! What Is “Carb Tolerance”/Insulin Sensitivity? (If you already know how insulin and glucose work, this section has nothing new for you; just skip down to the next one) Very simply put, insulin sensitivity (or “carb tolerance” in everyday language) is a healthy hormonal state that allows your body to digest and store carbohydrates without a problem. In healthy people, here’s how it works: You eat something with carbs (let’s say a potato, but it could be anything). Your digestive system breaks down the starch in that potato into glucose. Glucose is a simple sugar – this is the form of carbohydrate that you’ll either use for energy or store as fat. Your blood sugar temporarily rises as the glucose enters the bloodstream. This is not a big problem, because… Insulin (produced in the pancreas) Continue reading >>
Insulin Sensitivity: Why You Can't Blast That Fat For Good!
Have you ever wondered why, after all the exercise and healthy eating you do, you still can't shift that last bit of fat? You hit the gym four to five times a week or more, you even try to get a run in over the weekend and on top of this you're eating all the healthiest food you can find; despite this your still not super lean like you want to be. I have the answer to your nightmare - Insulin sensitivity. Insulin sensitivity will eventually replace the term "weight loss" and "fat loss" as the new hot topic. Insulin has a powerful ability to prevent fat breakdown by its anabolic (rebuilding) properties. Few health and fitness professionals know or understand Insulin sensitivity (IS) which is why its no wonder that the every day man or woman is finding weight and fat so difficult to lose; it's incredibly hard to win against an obstacle you don't know is there! Let me explain Insulin's role and how it's sensitivity changes depending upon how close you are to your weight and fat loss goals. Insulin Sensitivity You might remember the hormone Insulin from articles referring to muscle gains due to its anabolic properties. Well further research into Insulin action shows that these same anabolic tendencies also affect the fat cells1. What most people don't realize is, Insulin also targets the fat, liver, and muscle cells when it is released1. This is not the only problem, though. A review of the research tells us that IS is actually increased when you lower your weight or body fat percentage2,3,11. It's also important to note that IS gets stronger the more you work out. The catabolic effect of exercise increases IS during a work out and for about 30-45 minutes post workout3. This means as a healthy exercising individual you simply can't eat the same amount of carbohydrate food t 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 >>
The Ketogenic Diet And Insulin Resistance
We recently touched on how you can use the ketogenic diet to control symptoms of diabetes such as elevated glucose and triglycerides. In this article, we examine research showing the impact that the ketogenic diet has on levels of the hormone insulin, a key regulator of blood sugar in the body. What is Insulin’s Role in the Body? Before we look at the research, we need to know our main players. Insulin is a protein-based hormone produced by beta-cells located in the pancreas. The pancreas, which is located under the stomach, also produces enzymes that aid with digestion. Insulin’s primary purpose is to regulate the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates. The digestive system breaks down carbohydrates, such as sugars and starches, into a molecule called glucose. This compound can be used by cells to produce energy through a process called cellular respiration. Insulin allows cells in the body absorb glucose, ultimately lowering levels of glucose in the blood stream. After a meal is consumed, blood glucose levels increase and the pancreas responds by releasing insulin into the blood. Insulin assists fat, liver, and muscle cells absorb glucose from the blood, resulting in lower levels of blood glucose. Insulin stimulates liver and muscle tissues to store excess glucose as a molecule called glycogen and also reduces glucose production by the liver. When blood sugar is low, the hormone glucagon (produced by alpha-cells in the pancreas) stimulate cells to break down glycogen into glucose that is subsequently released into the blood stream. In healthy people who do not have type II diabetes, these functions allow levels of blood glucose and insulin to stay in a normal range. What Is Insulin Resistance and Why Is It a Problem? Unfortunately, for many Americans and other peopl Continue reading >>
What Tests Should I Get For Insulin Resistance And Pcos?
Is Insulin Resistance Causing Your PCOS? Insulin resistance and PCOS commonly occur together. Have you got PCOS, but never been tested for insulin resistance? Or maybe you have been tested, but your doctor has told you that your blood sugar is normal? If so, you may have been left wondering what’s causing your PCOS. During my second year at university we did an experiment where were measured our blood glucose levels after eating different foods. We’d just been learning about how blood glucose could be lower in athletes due to higher muscle mass and increased insulin sensitivity. At the time, I was training for 20 hours a week. You can imagine my shock when I found that my results were close to the top end of the normal range. However, when I queried my doctor about this she assured me that it was still within the normal range. She told me that I needn’t be worried. I’m going to explain to you why this is incorrect and why even slight changes in blood glucose can be a sign of insulin resistance. Studies have shown that up to 70% of women with PCOS have insulin resistance. I’m always amazed at the number of women I talk to who have been diagnosed with PCOS, but not tested for insulin resistance. You were not born with PCOS. PCOS is a condition that develops due to your environment interacting with your genes. Your ‘environment’ includes what you eat, how much you exercise, stress levels, environmental toxins, etc. It’s therefore easy to see that there is always something in your environment causing your PCOS. If you can find out what this is then you can remove it, then reverse your PCOS symptoms. I’ve written about the main causes of PCOS and how insulin resistance is the main one. Now I want to further explore insulin resistance: – What is it? – Ho Continue reading >>
Insulin resistance (IR) is a pathological condition in which cells fail to respond normally to the hormone insulin. The body produces insulin when glucose starts to be released into the bloodstream from the digestion of carbohydrates in the diet. Normally this insulin response triggers glucose being taken into body cells, to be used for energy, and inhibits the body from using fat for energy. The concentration of glucose in the blood decreases as a result, staying within the normal range even when a large amount of carbohydrates is consumed. When the body produces insulin under conditions of insulin resistance, the cells are resistant to the insulin and are unable to use it as effectively, leading to high blood sugar. Beta cells in the pancreas subsequently increase their production of insulin, further contributing to a high blood insulin level. This often remains undetected and can contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes or latent autoimmune diabetes of adults. Although this type of chronic insulin resistance is harmful, during acute illness it is actually a well-evolved protective mechanism. Recent investigations have revealed that insulin resistance helps to conserve the brain's glucose supply by preventing muscles from taking up excessive glucose. In theory, insulin resistance should even be strengthened under harsh metabolic conditions such as pregnancy, during which the expanding fetal brain demands more glucose. People who develop type 2 diabetes usually pass through earlier stages of insulin resistance and prediabetes, although those often go undiagnosed. Insulin resistance is a syndrome (a set of signs and symptoms) resulting from reduced insulin activity; it is also part of a larger constellation of symptoms called the metabolic syndrome. Insuli Continue reading >>
The Insulin Resistance Diet Protocol
Understanding the cellular mechanisms of insulin resistance helps us choose more effective therapeutic interventions for the treatment and prevention of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. Insulin resistance is present in individuals who are obese and those with diabetes mellitus. Several studies have found that an insulin resistance diet protocol and exercise can alter insulin signaling pathways and delay the onset of insulin resistance. It’s estimated that the number of diabetes sufferers in the world will double from about 190 million to 325 million during the next 25 years. (1) It’s obvious that we need to pay more attention to our lifestyle habits and make some changes. An insulin resistance diet, similar to a diabetic diet plan, helps you lose excess weight and regulate your insulin and blood glucose levels in order to reduce your risk of developing prediabetes and diabetes. Insulin Resistance Diet Research suggests that the primary cause of insulin resistance is excess weight, especially excess fat around the waist. Fortunately, weight loss can help the body respond better to insulin. The Diabetes Prevention Program and other large studies indicate that people with insulin resistance and prediabetes can often prevent or delay developing diabetes by changing their diets to follow an insulin resistance diet, along with losing weight. Here are seven ways to start eating an insulin resistance diet. 1. Limit Carbohydrates Research published in Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity suggests that monitoring carbohydrate intake, whether by carbohydrate counting or experience-based estimation, remains a key strategy in achieving glycemic control. Although all carbohydrates can be incorporated into carbohydrate counting, for good health, carbohydrates from vegetables, Continue reading >>
Coffee & Insulin Resistance
Coffee affects the human body in a number of ways. Almost everyone is familiar with the jitters and anxiety that can occur when you drink too much coffee, and many people have experienced a headache or a tired feeling if they miss their morning dose of java. These are relatively minor problems and usually short-term. But coffee can also affect how the body responds to insulin, and that can be more serious. Video of the Day If your blood sugar is too low, you have hypoglycemia and may develop symptoms of light-headedness, sweating and headache, according to Diabetic Care Services. But hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, can also cause problems. The body tries to keep the blood sugar within an optimum range by secreting insulin. When you eat a meal, blood sugar rises as the food is digested, and the pancreas secretes insulin to bring the blood sugar down again. Then as the blood sugar comes back down, the body stops secreting insulin; if it didn't, blood sugar could go too low. This constant seesaw process depends on both the secretion of insulin at the proper time, and in the right amount, and the body’s ability to respond to the insulin. To paraphrase the fairy tale, the body uses insulin to keep the blood sugar not too high, not too low, but just right. People with type 2 diabetes develop an inability either to secrete insulin or to respond to higher blood sugars; the latter situation is known as insulin resistance, and that’s where coffee comes into the picture. Coffee with caffeine is more than just a favorite beverage; caffeine is a drug. Caffeine has been shown to affect the body’s response to insulin, which is called insulin sensitivity. A study in the February 2002 issue of “Diabetes Care,” found that caffeine decreased insulin sensitivity in healthy ma Continue reading >>
Insulin Resistance: The Real Reason Why You Aren’t Losing Weight
Many people have weight loss as one of their key resolutions. Sadly, 35 percent of people also give up on that goal before the month even ends. It’s not necessarily lack of time or willpower that causes you to struggle with weight loss year after year. The real reason that you may have struggled to lose weight is insulin resistance, or a condition I call metabolism dysfunction. So you may be thinking, “Why is it so hard for me to lose weight?” I’m doing “everything right,” and yet still weight loss is difficult. Perhaps (like many of my patients) you’re already following a strict diet and working out several times a week, but to no avail. The weight still won’t come off — or, worse, you are gaining weight for seemingly no reason at all! You have become resigned to being overweight. Weight problems aren’t a permanent and immovable fixture for the rest of your life. If you’re finding that weight is easy to gain and hard to lose, it’s not your fault! Weight problems aren’t just about overeating or under exercising — they’re about metabolic changes (The MD Factor Diet, 2015) that are collectively known as insulin resistance. Lab tests conducted in my practice have confirmed that over 89 percent of my patients have this real and often undiagnosed issue. So the good news is that the right combination of diet, exercise, and will to succeed you can reverse your MD factor and finally find success in losing weight and keeping it off for good. In a nutshell, insulin resistance is the inability of your body to properly convert the food that you eat into energy to fuel your cells. People with the MD Factor have difficulty regulating their blood sugar, which is often due to insulin resistance or even diabetes. In both instances, their bodies are unable t Continue reading >>
Insulin And Insulin Resistance - The Ultimate Guide
Insulin is an important hormone that controls many processes in the body. However, problems with this hormone are at the heart of many modern health conditions. Sometimes our cells stop responding to insulin like they are supposed to. This condition is termed insulin resistance, and is incredibly common. In fact, a 2002 study showed that 32.2% of the US population may be insulin resistant (1). This number may rise to 70% in obese adult women and over 80% in some patient groups (2, 3). About a third of obese children and teenagers may also have insulin resistance (4). These numbers are scary, but the good news is that insulin resistance can be dramatically improved with simple lifestyle measures. This article explains what insulin resistance is, why you should care and how you can overcome it. Insulin is a hormone secreted by an organ called the pancreas. Its main role is to regulate the amount of nutrients circulating in the bloodstream. Although insulin is mostly implicated in blood sugar management, it also affects fat and protein metabolism. When we eat a meal that contains carbohydrates, the amount of blood sugar in the bloodstream increases. This is sensed by the cells in the pancreas, which then release insulin into the blood. Then insulin travels around the bloodstream, telling the body's cells that they should pick up sugar from the blood. This leads to reduced amounts of sugar in the blood, and puts it where it is intended to go, into the cells for use or storage. This is important, because high amounts of sugar in the blood can have toxic effects, causing severe harm and potentially leading to death if untreated. However, due to various reasons (discussed below), sometimes the cells stop responding to the insulin like they are supposed to. In other words, they Continue reading >>
What medical conditions are associated with insulin resistance? While the metabolic syndrome links insulin resistance with abdominal obesity, elevated cholesterol, and high blood pressure; several other medical other conditions are specifically associated with insulin resistance. Insulin resistance may contribute to the following conditions: Type 2 Diabetes: Overt diabetes may be the first sign insulin resistance is present. Insulin resistance can be noted long before type 2 diabetes develops. Individuals reluctant or unable to see a health-care professional often seek medical attention when they have already developed type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. Fatty liver: Fatty liver is strongly associated with insulin resistance. Accumulation of fat in the liver is a manifestation of the disordered control of lipids that occurs with insulin resistance. Fatty liver associated with insulin resistance may be mild or severe. Newer evidence suggests fatty liver may even lead to cirrhosis of the liver and, possibly, liver cancer. Arteriosclerosis: Arteriosclerosis (also known as atherosclerosis) is a process of progressive thickening and hardening of the walls of medium-sized and large arteries. Arteriosclerosis is responsible for: Other risk factors for arteriosclerosis include: High levels of "bad" (LDL) cholesterol Diabetes mellitus from any cause Family history of arteriosclerosis Skin Lesions: Skin lesions include increased skin tags and a condition called acanthosis nigerians (AN). Acanthosis nigricans is a darkening and thickening of the skin, especially in folds such as the neck, under the arms, and in the groin. This condition is directly related to the insulin resistance, though the exact mechanism is not clear. Acanthosis nigricans is a cosmetic condition strongly Continue reading >>
Less Sleep, More Insulin Resistance?
Most of us would love more sleep. Sure, good nutrition and exercise can offset some of the effects of sleep deprivation. But chronically inadequate sleep can lead to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Here’s how. And why. Deep thoughts on deep sleep Question: What is sleep? Maharishi: How can you know sleep when you are awake? The answer is to go to sleep to find out what it is. Question: But I cannot know it in this way. Maharishi: This question must be raised in sleep. Question: But I cannot raise the question then. Maharishi: So that is sleep. –Attributed to: Sri Ramana Maharishi Why do humans sleep? If you’re a fan of the Twilight series, you’ll know that the vampires didn’t need to sleep. But their bodies were also transformed into the embodiment of perfection — frozen in time with no need for bodily maintenance. Not so with us mere mortals. We need to sleep or we become pretty dang cranky, have memory lapses, drive sloppily, and increase our risk of developing obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes (1). And while you may not have ever put much thought into the functions of sleep, most folks will admit that there’s nothing better than a solid night’s sleep for improving mood and energy levels. Mood, memory, and learning are all more or less controlled by our central nervous system and studies have shown that sleep plays a key role (2). One way to understand the functions of sleep is to compare it to eating. It’s pretty easy to understand why we eat: We need to consume nutrients so that our bodies can grow, repair tissue and function properly. Both sleeping and eating are regulated by powerful internal drives. Go too long without food and your stomach rumbles, your blood sugar drops, and you’re fo Continue reading >>
Dear Mark: Does Eating A Low Carb Diet Cause Insulin Resistance?
157 Comments Despite all the success you might have had with the Primal way of life, doubts can still nag at you. Maybe it’s something you read, or something someone said to you, or a disapproving glance or offhand comment from a person you otherwise respect, but it’s pretty common when you’re doing something, like giving up grains, avoiding processed food, or eating animal fat, that challenges deeply-and-widely held beliefs about health and wellness. It doesn’t really even matter that you’re losing weight or seem to be thriving; you may still have questions. That’s healthy and smart, and it’s totally natural. A question I’ve been getting of late is the effect of reducing carb intake on insulin sensitivity. It’s often bandied about that going low carb is good for folks with insulin resistance, but it’s also said that low carb can worsen insulin resistance. Are both true and, if so, how do they all jibe together? That’s what the reader was wondering with this week’s question: Hi Mark, I’ve been Primal for a few months now and love it. Lowering my carbs and upping my animal fat helped me lose weight and gain tons of energy (not too shabby for a middle-aged guy!). However, I’m a little worried. I’ve heard that low carb diets can increase insulin resistance. Even though I’ve done well and feel great, should I be worried about insulin resistance? Do I need to increase my carb intake? I always thought low carb Primal was supposed to improve insulin function. Vince Going Primal usually does improve insulin sensitivity, both directly and in a roundabout way. It improves directly because you lose weight, you reduce your intake of inflammatory foods, you lower systemic inflammation (by getting some sun, smart exercise, omega-3s, and reducing or dea Continue reading >>
Tweet Insulin resistance is the name given to when cells of the body don’t respond properly to the hormone insulin. Insulin resistance is the driving factor that leads to type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes and prediabetes. Insulin resistance is closely associated with obesity; however, it is possible to be insulin resistant without being overweight or obese. Modern research has shown that insulin resistance can be combatted by treatment methods that reduce how much insulin the body is producing or taking via insulin injections or insulin pumps. Reducing insulin resistance can be achieved by following low-carbohydrate and ketogenic diets. What is insulin resistance? The role of insulin is to allow cells of the body to take in glucose to be used as fuel or stored as body fat.  It also means that glucose is more likely to build up in the blood and this can lead to too high blood sugar levels. When the body becomes resistant to insulin, it tries to cope by producing more insulin. People with insulin resistance are often producing too more insulin than healthy people. Producing too much insulin is known as hyperinsulinemia. Symptoms of insulin resistance Initially, insulin resistance presents no symptoms. The symptoms only start to appear once it leads to secondary effects such as higher blood sugar levels. When this happens, the symptoms may include: Lethargy (tiredness) Hunger Difficulty concentrating (brain fog) Other signs that often appear in people with insulin resistance include: Weight gain around the middle (belly fat) High blood pressure High cholesterol levels If insulin resistance develops into prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, the symptoms will include increased blood glucose levels and more of the classic symptoms of type 2 diabetes. Causes of insulin r Continue reading >>