Diabetes is one of the most common problems in the United States today. The Standard American Diet (SAD) continues to promote blood sugar disorders and will for decades to come. Some have predicted that the diabetic explosion will bankrupt the national healthcare system. Diabetes is on the rise and is the leading cause of blindness, amputations, kidney failure, and neuropathy in the United States. Over 26 million Americans are affected by diabetes, at an annual cost of over $218 billion per year (American Diabetes Association). Diabetes is a growing problem in industrialized countries, primarily due to a lack of lifestyle education and physical activity, as well as the consumption of high-calorie, low-nutrient, processed foods.
Diabetes disrupts all aspects of human physiology. It increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, cognitive decline, and virtually every other disease. There are different categories of blood sugar handling issues: reactive hypoglycemia (low blood sugar, below 60) and hyperglycemia (high blood sugar, above 100). Contrary to popular belief diabetes is not a blood sugar issue, it is 100% of the time an insulin issue. High blood sugar is a symptom of insulin resistance or a lack of insulin production.
Diabetes is classified as either type 1 or type 2, and both result in high blood sugar. In type 1 diabetes a person has lost the ability to make insulin because their pancreas is being destroyed by either their own immune system or a virus. A type 2 diabetic eventually loses the ability to make insulin due to poor lifestyle choices, specifically diet.
“It is estimated that 20% of type 2 diabetics are misdiagnosed and are actually suffering from Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (LADA). These diabetics are typically not overweight and live a healthy lifestyle, but still remain on insulin as a result of pancreatic destruction.”
Before a person becomes a diabetic, they go through a stage called insulin resistance. This means that their cells require more insulin than usual to force that sugar into the cells. This problem is promoted by lifestyle factors such as physical inactivity, overeating, high sugar and high starch snacks and meals, and a lack of fiber. People in the insulin resistance stage usually complain of getting tired after meals, cravings for sweets, and trouble losing weight. When the insulin receptor becomes over-saturated (due to inflammation or insulin resistance) sugar cannot get into the cells. This excess sugar is converted into circulating fats called triglycerides. This process demands a lot of energy, resulting in fatigue after a meal. High triglycerides on a blood test are one of the first signs of insulin resistance and seen before diabetes is full blown.
Insulin resistance ALWAYS comes before diabetes is officially diagnosed. A person may be severely insulin resistant and still present with normal blood sugars. This high demand of insulin results in pancreatic burn-out, ultimately resulting in insulin dependence (medication). High circulating insulin does not only affect blood sugar; remember, insulin is at the root of virtually all chronic disease and therefore affects various other systems in the body. This is why diabetes is so much more than blood sugars.
A hormone is an important chemical messenger that is made in one part of the body and communicates with another part of the body. At the root of virtually every illness are two hormones, insulin and cortisol. Insulin is a hormone made by beta cells in the pancreas. In insulin’s case, its job is to drive sugar into virtually every cell in your body to be converted into energy. All foods, such as proteins, fats, and carbohydrates will eventually be converted into glucose (sugar) so that the body can use it as a fuel. Once a person become insulin resistant they cannot lower blood sugar effectively, thus leading to diabetes.
Cortisol is a hormone that is made by your adrenal glands (stress glands). One of it’s main roles is to increase blood sugar in response to any stress. It does this by releasing a stored sugar (glycogen) from the liver and muscle tissue. Cortisol will also reduce the sensitivity of the insulin receptors on cells. This forces the pancreas to make more insulin to lower blood sugar; and a viscous cycle begins, leading to diabetes.
Insulin resistance and diabetes affect virtually all aspects of physiology. When sugar can’t get into a cell it oxidizes and turns into glycosylated end products (GEP). When something oxidizes, think of it like rust on a car. GEP’s combined with high levels of insulin are inflammatory and cause destruction to tissues such as retinas, nerves, kidneys, and blood vessels. This is why diabetes is the leading cause of blindness, kidney failure, neuropathy, and amputation. An excellent marker for measuring GEP is Hemoglobin A1C. Hemoglobin A1C is an important marker because it measures how quickly an organism is aging. The higher the HbA1C, the faster a person is aging on a cellular level. This is why many diabetes patients age so quickly. As bad as all this sounds, the health problems don’t stop there.
Did you know that the size of diabetic’s brain shrinks twice as fast every year compared to a non-diabetic?
8 aspects of your health that are impacted by Insulin:
1. Insulin tells your liver to make more cholesterol. Cholesterol is the precursor to many of your hormones, including cortisol. Your body makes more cholesterol in response to the demands placed on it. This is a highly intelligent response to your environment and lifestyle, not an error. Your body never makes mistakes.
2. Insulin raises your blood pressure by increasing sodium retention. Many diabetics also have high blood pressure as a result of insulin issues.
3. Insulin keeps your liver from being able to detoxify properly. Your liver is like your body’s oil filter. Your liver takes the trash and sludge out of your blood, but it can’t do as good of a job when insulin and blood sugar are constantly elevated.
4. Insulin promotes inflammation, the very thing that causes insulin resistance. Inflammation promotes joint pain, cardiovascular disease, fluid retention, and weight gain to name a few. These diseases are often seen in diabetes patients.
5. High insulin levels in women cause them to make more testosterone. Symptoms include; polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS, hair thinning, and unwanted facial hair. Insulin can also affect the distribution of weight causing weight gain in the mid section.
6. Men end up with higher levels of estrogen when they have higher levels of insulin. This can contribute to breast enlargement and prostate issues with men, along with other things like erectile dysfunction and loss of motivation.
7. High levels of insulin are also directly related to higher risk for colon and breast cancer. Insulin promotes cell division and therefore also accelerates the aging process and cancer cell division. Cancer is more common in those with diabetes.
8. High levels of insulin promote weight-gain because it is a fat storage hormone. When insulin can no longer drive sugar into cells to make energy, its job is then to store that sugar as fat for use at a later time. Guess what? That time never comes!
It becomes quite clear the amount of devastation that can be caused by a single hormone. The bad news is that we have drugs and supplements to address all the concerns listed above, ignoring the root cause. The good news is that insulin is one of the few hormones that you have direct control over. Better management of insulin can prevent the onset of diabetes and many other chronic diseases.
Let’s look at how we can address this notorious hormone and radically improve your health outcomes. We are going to address 5 components of your health that have a direct impact on your insulin levels.
Diabetes and Diet
The average US citizen eats over 170,000 pounds of food in their lifetime, as much as a space shuttle weighs! Let’s look at how diet affects your insulin levels.
Insulin is one of the only hormones that we can control. The food that you eat has a profound impact on your insulin levels. Eat more unprocessed, healthy foods and visit www.becomeproof.com for healthy insulin friendly recipes.
Diabetes and Exercise
Our ancestors moved 5 times more than we do today. In fact, they would have walked enough to get to the moon and back 3 times in their lifetime. In contrast, people today would only get about 2/3 of the way to the moon. Movement is a required part of life and many of us are becoming more sedentary. Let’s discuss how exercise lowers insulin levels.
There is no such thing as too much movement! The more you move, the better you will feel, and the better you will manage insulin and blood sugar levels. To start we suggest that you try to incorporate walking and remain as active as possible throughout the day.
Did you know that up to 90% of visits to a physician’s office are in some way connected to chronic stress, and that virtually all disease is impacted or begins with a stressor?
Stress comes in 3 forms: physical, chemical and emotional. But your body reacts exactly the same way to each form. Stress has a massive impact on insulin and other systems in the body.
Stress can come in a variety of forms, but they all raise your blood sugar and therefore raise your body’s need for insulin. It is important for one to recognize and address the stressors in their life and develop a strategy to remove them.
We come in contact with 84,000 chemicals a year, and only 1% of those have been tested for safety. Of those tested, only 5 chemicals have been banned in the last 34 years! Not only are we in danger from man-made chemicals, but our food supply is so toxic that it is contributing to the pollution of our bodies. Toxins are found in lotions, creams, plastics, make-up, toothpaste, etc. Things the we come in contact with daily and don’t even think about. Be careful what you put on your skin, the water you drink and the air you breathe, it all ends up inside your body
Chronic toxic threats to your health come in many forms. The personal care products we use, the cleaning agents we use, the air we breathe and water we drink can all contribute to increased insulin resistance and lead to diabetes.
There are certain substances that everyone needs for their body to function normally. In diabetics, required nutrients are often missing. Over fifty percent of Americans take a nutritional supplement, but the majority of people don’t know why they are taking them.
Here are some of the main nutrient deficiencies that we see in clinical practice with patients that have blood sugar issues. We suggest that you consult with a Functional Medicine practitioner to determine your nutrient needs through the appropriate lab work.
Your body has very specific nutritional requirements. How would you know how much of something your body needs to function properly? You check the fluid levels of your car, why not check the nutrient levels in your body? What we find effective in our office is to test people for specific nutrients and then give their body what it needs to do its job properly.
The Texas Regional Health Approach – A Smarter Solution for Diabetes
Nothing can fix your body better than it can fix itself. We must provide it with the right environment, nutrition, and reduce stress. Your lifestyle and nutrient status have a profound impact on insulin and consequently lead to diabetes.
After reading this article, please spend time to review it and implement at least one change that you will make today with this new knowledge. We want you to write down this goal and review it daily. Do your best to eventually address all of the factors discussed to help you address your diabetes.
Our mission is to address the root cause of your diabetes and restore your health and vitality. By listening to your personal story, analyzing your lab work and providing you with education, you will receive the tools and direction to live an extraordinary life and prevent diabetes from taking over your life. Diabetes is heavily influenced by lifestyle and therefore can be managed much better when a patient has all the information available to them.
Diabetes is truly an insulin related disorder; fortunately, insulin is one of the easiest hormones to manage and can have a dramatic impact in many aspects of your health besides blood sugar. We encourage that you work with a Functional Medicine provider who understands your unique needs and helps you develop an action plan towards restoring your health and vitality and make your diabetes a thing of the past.