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Top 10 signs of Insulin Resistance
Do you have any of the following symptoms or concerns?
- Fatigue: Not the everyday, run of the mill fatigue because you’re not getting enough sleep, but chronic can’t seem to get your energy back kind of fatigue. (Yep, this was me!)
- Brain Fogginess: This one was me for sure! Mental fatigue (your brain just feels tired), an inability to focus, lack of motivation, can’t seem to remembers things. I remember feeling almost like I had a glass of wine or something at 3 or 4:00.
- Low blood sugar: Do you feel like you need to eat every few hours or you begin to feel some of the following symptoms? Crankiness, irritability, loss of energy, jittery and feeling constantly concerned about when you will eat again? (Yep, me!)
- Feeling bloated: gassiness or just intestinal bloating. (Yep, me!)
- Sleepiness: particularly after a meal containing a lot of carbohydrates. (Yep, me!)
- Increased weight: Really this is excess fat storage. The tell-tale sign is abdominal fat but in some women it can be in the butt. (That is where I carried my weight.)
- Increased Triglyceride levels: This is common in overweight people but often seemingly thin insulin resistant people will have elevated triglyceride levels. ( Not really me….yet)
- High blood pressure: Often a rise in blood pressure goes hand in hand with a rise in blood insulin levels too. (Not really me….yet)
- Depression: Because starchy or sugary carbohydrate can cause a bit of a serotonin high followed by a crash, some people begin to suffer from a level of depression. (Yep, Me!)
- Carb cravings: Nothing but something starchy or sweet will do. (Yep, me!)
Wow! I had 8 out of these 10. Holy Cow! I wish I knew then what I know now. Man, was I lost. It got to the point that any amount of starch or sugar would send me on a bender. If I had a little I wanted A LOT!!! If you’ve read my Cold Turkey post then you know my story.
Insulin resistance is so pervasive it is almost laughable if it weren’t so serious. So, what is Insulin resistance exactly? Actually, what is Insulin?
Insulin is a hormone, a vital metabolic hormone that is secreted by the pancreas and tells the cells in the liver, muscles and fat to absorb the glucose in the blood, particularly after a meal. The glucose is stored as glycogen which the body can then use as energy. At least that is how it is supposed to work. Energy is good right? As the glucose levels in the blood drop below a certain level the body signals you to eat more and will draw some glucose out of the stores in the liver. Can you see the cycle?
- I eat
- Pancreas secretes insulin in response to the amount of glucose in my blood (starch and sugar create the most)
- As the insulin does its job, my blood sugar level falls. Hopefully not too low (hypoglycemia-this was chronic for me) this is touch and go depending on what I eat.
- As my blood sugar falls my brain tells my body to eat more.
- If I don’t eat soon enough, I get cranky, irritable, shaky and CRAVE carbs.
Does this sound familiar to anyone?
Too much glucose in the blood is not a condition the body likes, so when blood sugar is elevated it is a sign that there is too much in the blood stream and that it isn’t being burned off so insulin is secreted to store it for later use. The muscles and liver can only store a small amount so the rest gets stored as….you guessed it… fat! Awesome, just what I need MORE FAT to squeeze into my jeans and bathing suit this summer!! If you are eating sugar (including starch) then you are burning sugar to get rid of it because excess sugar is toxic to the body. If you can’t burn it all you will store it. This mechanism is necessary to get the toxin (excess sugar) out of your blood, but this also means you WILL NOT burn fat. I don’t care how much cardio you do.
People with type 1 diabetes have a real medical condition in which their pancreas is basically broken and does not produce insulin. REALLY BAD and is treated most often by taking insulin shots or an automated pump. Type 2 diabetes however is an entirely different story. The pancreas is working but the body is not recognizing it or needs more of it because it has become resistant to the insulin that is being produced. Thus the term Insulin Resistant! You dig?
We become insulin resistant when we eat too many foods that produce glucose which stimulates insulin production in the body. When we eat too much of these foods, eventually our body just tunes it out. Like the annoying child that is always saying, “Mom, mom, mom, mom….” So the body needs to produce more insulin than before for the body to hear it. Like the kid needs to yell, “Mom, mom, mom. Mom!” Louder and louder. Eventually it gets to the point that the liver become resistant and doesn’t want to hear it anymore, then the muscles, then the fat. Eventually the pancreas can’t possibly continue to pump out these high levels of insulin anymore, which isn’t doing its job anyway and we become diabetic. Type-2 diabetic. Can you see who the culprit in all this is? Foods that produce a high level of blood glucose, starch and sugar.
It is pretty safe to say that all people with type 2 diabetes are insulin resistant, but not all people who are insulin resistant are diagnosed as having type 2 diabetes…..yet. Being insulin resistant is a huge risk factor and tends to be a pre-cursor to type 2 diabetes. Typically the biggest causes of type 2 diabetes are a “poor” diet (depending on your definition because many following the USDA food pyramid are at risk due to the recommended 6-11 servings of grains a day), weight gain and lack of exercise. Damn! These 3 are the biggest causes of so many things like heart disease, hyper tension, obesity, cancer, depression and more. But most of us LOVE eating crap, too much of it and only moving when we have to. What to do??!!
Look folks, 3 out of my 4 grandparents eventually had type-2 diabetes. It has become this assumption that if you live long enough you will eventually get it. Well, if you eat CRAP, too much of it and don’t get your ass up and go for a walk, then yeah, you’ll get it. It is really that easy to avoid it! Eat the right things, don’t eat until you can’t possibly stuff another morsel into your pie hole and get up and move dang it!
I’m sorry to be so glib, but it makes me so angry to see so many suffer NEEDLESSLY. NEEDLESSLY! This is the most preventable disease EVER! I can literally look out my car window everyday as I drive from client to client in my real job and point out dozens of people who are likely insulin resistant. This is part of my mission. To educate, and for those who want to help themselves, provide the coaching, guidance, love and support to succeed.
Remember my mantra always. Ditch the CRAP! The biggest piece of crap in the insulin resistant pile is sugar and empty starches. Not all carbs are bad. Veggies are great. Fruits are good. Less starchy root veggies are OK. Everything else is pretty much crap. Sugar (all types, natural or not is toxic for the insulin resistant), grains and legumes are the most important to avoid.
There are some who will tell you that your body and your brain need some glucose. And that is true, but your body has all the tools is needs to produce glucose on its own without extra dietary glucose. This process is called gluconeogenesis (literally, new glucose generation). This process in humans takes place mainly in the liver and to a smaller extent in the kidneys and can provide all the glucose our bodies need provided we are adapted to burning fat for energy. The Paleo Diet, particularly a low carb version like the Primal Blueprint, for about 30 days will do the trick and then you can move to a maintenance phase which will depend on your activity level to maintain that fat burning state. The problem I have with a standard low carb diet that is not based in whole foods or Paleo foods. Many people still rely too much on dairy and processed low carb foods. Like those processed protein bars and shakes I used to live on. Bleck!! Most high protein/low carb processed foods use a lot of processed soy and sugar-free sweeteners to make them palatable. YUCK and SOOOO bad for you.
To sweeten the pot for those of you still on the fence is that low insulin levels is the number one common denominator in people who live to be 100. Controlling your insulin levels is THE MOST powerful anti-aging strategy you can implement. High levels of insulin are the number one cause of accelerated aging. If you want to slow the aging process and live as health a life for as long as you can, ditch that pasta and potato for a salad or veggies. I want to live a happy, healthy, active life for as long as I can, then just sort of drop dead. 😉 I have no desire to spend my 70’s and older going from doctor to doctor complaining about how crappy I feel. That does not sound fun at all! Low insulin levels leading to a later onset and healthier aging, that’s reason enough for me!
Until Next Time,