Blood sugar management and insulin regulation is one area of health and nutrition where you can achieve perfection.
- Want to know how long you’ll live? Look at your insulin levels – insulin is referred to as the longevity hormone.
- Every time that you put food in your body there is a hormonal reaction – the primary one being insulin.
- Sugar and foods that act like sugar – bread, pasta, pizza, cereal, etc. – wreak havoc with your health by disrupting your insulin levels.
- Too much insulin will undermine your health in many, many ways: energy, moods, immune function, cardiovascular health, brain degeneration, and inflammation.
Hormones are potent chemical agents that have the power to create sweeping changes in your physiology. Insulin is the star of the hormone show – it not only plays the leading role in how food nourishes the cells of our bodies – it’s also one of the most powerful and significant hormones in regards to our health, period.
Carbohydrates are reduced to sugar during digestion and metabolism. In the bloodstream, sugars trigger the release of insulin. Insulin reduces blood sugar by acting as a carrier or transport mechanism, bringing sugar into the cells to be burned for energy. Once energy needs are met, excess sugars (or calories) are stored as fat. Insulin is also a primary stress hormone – its physiological influence is broad and varied; one of its most common monikers is The Fat Storage Hormone. Therefore the presence of excess insulin promotes fat storage.
All carbohydrates stimulate insulin response, as do excess calories from any source. Eating refined carbohydrates (think sugar, bread, pasta, cereal, crackers) causes ‘over taxation’ of this insulin response. Over-stimulation of the insulin response cascade results in chronically elevated insulin levels, which leads to insulin resistance (decreased insulin sensitivity), a very serious threat to your health. Insulin resistance in turn stimulates more insulin production, which leads to a downward spiral that can ultimately cause metabolic derangement.
Insulin resistance is when cells in your muscles, body fat and liver start resisting or ignoring the signal that the hormone insulin is trying to send out—which is to grab glucose out of the bloodstream and put it into our cells. [read more here]
Ultimately, this insulin regulation derangement leads to obesity, high blood pressure, elevated blood lipids and Type 2 diabetes, and coronary artery disease – all of which combined are now called metabolic syndrome.
A food’s glycemic index is an indicator of its effect on blood sugar levels, but more specifically, the resulting blood insulin levels. Foods that have a high glycemic index are considered the culprits in our current national eating disorder and resulting obesity and chronic disease dilemma. The top offenders are all sugars, grains and dairy products.
The research is clear and compelling. We must return to eating only the foods that were available to our ancestors during the period of time in which our biological needs (and genetic blueprint) were determined. We must get back to eating an abundance of nutrient dense, fiber-rich carbohydrates: fresh vegetables as the foundation of a health-promoting diet style. Nutritious whole foods must replace the nutrient-poor, low-fiber, high-calorie refined carbohydrates that now dominate our modern disease-promoting diet.
As it turns out, our food pyramid needs to be reworked again.
Healthy people follow a simple, but profound diet style: a ‘Paleo gluten-free diet’ consisting of vegetables, nuts, seeds, some starch, a little fruit, and quality protein; notice what’s absent: sugar, grains and dairy – all of which cause insulin spikes, and gluten-containing grains cause chronic inflammation throughout the body (and intestinal permeability – leaky gut syndrome – leading to allergies and autoimmune disorders).
This best practice will ensure that you are eating ‘live’ whole foods, high in enzymes and nutritional components like anti-oxidants and phytonutrients, while simultaneously avoiding foods that cause abnormal insulin spikes.
Because it has become increasingly difficult to find wholesome, nutritious foods ‘on-the-go’, packing your own lunch is a vital behavior. Always ask: “Where are the plants?,” “Where is the fat?” and “Where is the protein?” when prepping your meals.
Proteins and fats moderate or mitigate the insulin response associated with carbs and sugars, so make sure to include them with every meal.
Always shop on the perimeter of the grocery store, even a whole foods store – this will keep you away from refined carbohydrates and processed foods. Nudge the scales in your favor. Buy and prep healthy snacks and preempt the ‘crunchy-salty cravings’. The battle is won at the checkout counter: If you don’t buy it – you won’t eat it.
New Research – Alzheimer’s Disease now referred to as Type 3 Diabetes
‘Currently, there is a rapid growth in the literature pointing toward insulin deficiency and insulin resistance as mediators of Alzheimer’s Disease-type neurodegeneration …’ ‘… the term “type 3 diabetes” accurately reflects the fact that Alzheimer’s Disease represents a form of diabetes that selectively involves the brain …’ [article link – 2008]
‘… insulin resistance associated with memory deficits and cognitive decline in elderly individuals. ‘… [excess] insulin also plays a crucial role in the formation amyloid plaques [amyloid plaques are a hallmark characteristic when diagnosing Alzheimer’s] [article link – 2017]