So how does insulin work? The simple explanation is that it is secreted from the pancreas in response to glucose molecules in a meal. The insulin molecule “unlocks” or “translocates” a protein receptor on the flee membrane to allow glucose to enter the cell. Once insulin levels fall, the door is once again locked and no glucose enters the cell. Excuse glucose is sent to the liver and when the liver is full, any other glucose is transformed into triglycerides and contributes to fat. The glycemic index determines the amount of glucose in the bloodstream and the amount of insulin secreted. A diet high in refined carbohydrates like pasta, rice, potatoes, bread, etc. will cause glucose levels to spike and cause a resultant spike in insulin secretion to cope with this.
The problem is that the blood glucose levels drop faster than the insulin levels causing a relative hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. This creates a stress to the body and the adrenal glands release the stress hormone cortisol, which results in more glucose production. The problem is that the elevated cortisol and insulin levels promote fat storage. The hypoglycemia creates more hunger and the cycle is repeated over and over again. Switch to a low glycemic meal like chicken and vegetables and the glucose levels do not spike but rise moderately. This creates an insulin response more in sync with the glucose and no relative hypoglycemia. You are sated longer, no cortisol is released and there is no excess insulin hanging around in the blood stream to cause fat storage.
Insulin resistance occurs in response to continual high glycemic meals. It takes more and more insulin to be secreted from the pancreas to cope with the glucose overload and eventually, the pancreas cannot keep up and/or the insulin becomes ineffective. Diabetes results. And remember, diabetes is a stressor, so cortisol levels rise. There is excess insulin around due to the glucose demand but it is ineffective. And the combination of the cortisol and insulin will cause fat storage and adiposity…and OBESITY! Get it yet?
So can lifestyle changes fix this problem or do we need to rely on the pharmaceutical industry?
Studies have been done comparing a placebo to metformin ( a drug used to treat diabetes) and lifestyle change involving, diet, nutrition, exercise and nutraceuticals. Lifestyle changes as described controlled blood sugar levels better than the metformin which was better than the placebo. The same effects were noted for controlling hemoglobin A1c levels ( a measure of the percentage of red blood cells that are “sugar” coated. High levels, above 7, indicate type 2 diabetes). And lifestyle changes resulted in a 58% drop in the onset of diabetes diagnosis. Metformin treatment resulted in a 31% drop, while the placebo had no effect. Older individuals had less effect from metformin and more from lifestyle change. So the answer lies in exercise, nutrition and nutraceuticals. No chronic drug use, no chronic side effects and no depletion of essential nutrients. Just simple lifestyle change resulting in overwhelming and lasting health. This is where you take control of your health. This is where you prevent chronic disease. This is your responsibility. Not the government’s, not your physician’s, but yours. And if you have children, then you are responsible for their health and well being. You alone can reverse the alarming cardiometabolic trends that may affect yourself and your family.
Contact the Giannotto Clinic today and find out how we can help you.
To view Part 1 of this series go here: CardioMetabolic Risk 1