What is insulin resistance and why is it a problem? Insulin resistance is a major driver of chronic disease in this country and one of the factors that sets your weight set point. Insulin resistance is associated with diabetes, metabolic syndrome, coronary artery disease, stroke, hypertension, and the list goes on. This is one reason we test a fasting insulin in our weight loss programs at the Loveland Medical Clinic. This article is on how insulin resistance occurs and how you can reverse it.
Insulin and Glucose
Insulin is a hormone that allows the cells to absorb glucose. In the 1950’s we ate 3 meals a day with no snacks. This allowed insulin levels to return to baseline on a daily basis. These days meal frequency has increased with snacking which just did not exist in the 50’s. Because of this and an increase in the poor quality of processed foods our insulin does not return to baseline levels. Insulin is the fat storage hormone and will cause your body to store fat as long as you are constantly running an elevated level of glucose.
How Insulin Resistance Occurs
Let’s use an analogy to explain insulin resistance. Imagine a train that comes by everyday. The train cars are the cells in your body. The passengers are glucose. When the train cars are empty the passengers(glucose) can easily get into the train. The cells(train cars) can use up only so much glucose per day. Insulin is what opens up the train car doors and allows glucose(passengers) to enter. Now imagine that after years and years of too much glucose the cells are not using up all the glucose(emptying the cars of passengers). So now when the train arrives the cars have people in them already. So insulin starts to push people into the train cars just like the people pushers in the Tokyo subway system. You end up needing more and more people pushers(insulin) to shove people into the train cars as they get more and more stuffed. That is insulin resistance.
Liver and Insulin Resistance
The liver has 2 functions with insulin. If your glucose drops low it produces glucose. If your glucose is high it converts glucose into fat. Back to the subway analogy. Image the car comes by and the car is full of people and you can’t stuff anymore people in. Excess glucose(passengers on the platform) in the blood is toxic to the body and something has to be done by the body about this. The stranded people on the platform(blood glucose) is converted by the liver into fat. The liver can make fat forever which is why people end up with fatty liver disease and obese. This is what is called metabolic syndrome.
Reversing Insulin Resistance (Diabetes Type 2)
Now that we understand that too much glucose and insulin are the cause of insulin resistance we can devise a simple treatment.When your medical provider places you on insulin or drugs that increase insulin in the body they are not solving the problem, they are making it worse. The problem is excess glucose and all the cells are stuffed with that already. You need to get rid of the excess glucose which will solve the insulin resistance problem. That is where a low carbohydrate diet comes in. Everyone is different in how their body uses up insulin. In general you need to get under 75gm of carbohydrates per day to start reversing this . Some people are so carbohydrate sensitive that they need to get under 20 gm of carbs per day. A ketogenic diet accomplishes the same thing and reverse this problem faster. The fastest way to reverse this is fasting. When you do not eat you have no glucose and your body will use up all those extra passengers hanging around. Then the body will start using up the fat since no glucose is available for fuel. The only essential macronutrients are fats and protein. The brain functions great on fats because it will break them down into ketones and it will create glucose from fatty acids. The ancient Greeks used to fast for the sole purpose of improving their mental clarity.
Intensive Dietary Management Program
The Loveland Medical Clinic uses all the above methods in their Intensive Dietary Management Program. We will wean you off your diabetes medications and reverse your diabetes. If the insulin resistance is taken care of , you solve the type 2 diabetes problem. If this is something you are interested get in touch with us and we can get you started.
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