Wednesday, September 3, 2008
In an attempt to delve more fully into the background and origins of insulin resistance, it has been shown that this condition can be very serious, ultimately ending up in type II diabetes, but what can be done to resolve this issue?
The answer is simple and yet difficult at the same time. It is the solution that many know and few want to undertake -- eating healthily and exercising. Though numerous people suffer from "aerobi-phobia" and a love of sugary foods, dietary changes must be made. Jack Challam, quoting Dr. Loren Cordain, suggested switching to a Paleolithic diet comprised of coniferous, high-fiber vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower, along with antioxidant rich olive oil.
Protein is also important because, according to Dr. Loren Cordain, it stabilizes blood glucose levels. Dr. Powers also suggests a diet plentiful in complex carbohydrates such as spinach, kale and whole unprocessed grains because it forces the body to more actively engage in breaking down the chemical bonds of the complex carbohydrates, thus yielding a slower and more gradual climb in glucose -- certainly not the wild swings that refined carbohydrates produce.
Furthermore, Dr. Powers suggests lowering fat (saturated fatty acids and trans-fatty acids) intake because fat also has a hand in contributing to insulin resistance syndrome. Dr. Powers summarized stating, "basically, you can't sit around and eat ice cream and pizza all the time," though lightly put, many find that they want to lead a life consuming pizza and soda and every sugary temptation imaginable with little to no exercise or dietary control to counter act their negative eating habits.
According to the NDIC, insulin resistance is a completely reversible condition. There are three very important things that need to be done in order to slow and reverse insulin resistance. The first and arguably most important practice in reversing insulin resistance is to begin exercising. "The main goal in treating insulin resistance and pre-diabetes is to help your body relearn to use insulin normally," (NDIC). To retrain the body to be more receptive to insulin, exercise is crucial because the activity enables the muscle cells to use glucose as it is consumed during exercise (NDIC). Jack Challam reports again, quoting Dr. Scott Isaacs, "think in terms of physical activity, not exercise. You don't have to run a marathon. I encourage out-of-shape patients to start with a five-minute daily walk, increasing it each week by one minute. I want them to eventually walk 45 minutes a day, five or six days a week."
Small changes can make a big impact on health, whether it is choosing a farther away parking spot, or choosing the stairs over the elevator -- whatever activity it may be -- the changes that are made can have profound health effects and restore insulin sensitivity. Dr. Goutham Rao further buttresses this theme by stating, "Exercise training improves insulin sensitivity. Patients with suspected insulin resistance should be advised to increase their level of physical activity. Even regular, sustained, moderate increases in physical activity such as daily walking, can substantially decrease insulin resistance." He goes on to say, "...everyone should accumulate at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most or, even better, all days of the week." The power of being active should never be underestimated: from a short five minute walk to forty-five minute strength training sessions, it all counts towards reducing and eliminating the pre-diabetes (insulin resistance) syndrome.
The second step to achieving improved insulin sensitivity would be to alter the diet in such a way to reduce "bad" fats (mainly unnatural trans fatty acids found in high-processed junk food) and simple carbohydrates. Too many "bad" fats and refined carbohydrates are being consumed instead of healthful fruits and vegetables. Gone are the days when little Johnny and Susie had to finish all the vegetables before having cookies and ice cream. Now they reach straight for the highly refined, high fat foods with mom's full approval. Dr. Powers states, "Basically, eating things that are high in fat... Lots of processed, highly refined grains and carbohydrates have been linked to being bad. Fruits and vegetables have been linked to being good because you're mixing up your diet," This is what many nutritionists, doctors and health professionals alike have been proclaiming for many years: a low fat, low sugary diet consisting of a variety of fruits and vegetables and highly fibrous foods is ideal.
Dr. Goutham Rao similarly states, "the amount of dietary fiber consumed is inversely related to insulin levels... a diet high in natural sources of fiber (e.g., whole grains and vegetables) helps combat insulin resistance." In order to decrease insulin resistance, healthier eating habits as described above are very important in the fight against insulin resistance. In fact, a combination of the two will greatly enhance the insulin sensitivity of the cells.
And lastly, to aid in reversing pre-diabetes, ceasing all other unhealthful practices such as smoking and increasing intake of vitamin and mineral supplements will facilitate the repair of cellular sensitivity. The NDIC counsels, "in addition to increasing your risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease, smoking contributes to insulin resistance. Quitting smoking is not easy, but it could be the single smartest thing you can do to improve your health." Though discontinuing cigarette use is wise for overall health, another lesser known way to improve insulin sensitivity is through supplementation.
Jack Challam wrote again that in order to improve insulin sensitivity even more, supplementation of certain vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals can be a great addition to the above advice. Taking no more than two to three supplements of the following substances may be required. Such substances as chromium, which is an essential mineral that, "...helps insulin control blood sugar levels," (Challam); R-alpha-lipoic-acid combined with biotin "...may be especially beneficial,"(Challam); and silymarin, an antioxidant that can improve liver function (especially the insulin resistant-liver cells) and blood sugar levels, have shown great promise in the effort to fully restore insulin sensitivity.
In conclusion, type II diabetes mellitus is a preventable problem. Currently 15.8 million (according to the CDC) people are afflicted with this illness in the United States and needlessly so, for the key to controlling this form of diabetes mellitus is to control insulin levels. As has been adequately shown, blood insulin levels have an inverse effect in the body: the greater the insulin levels, the less overall bodily health. In order to combat the rising numbers of type II diabetes, steps must be taken to educate the public on proper dietary habits. More education about eating in moderation, stressing a greater amount of physical activity, and encouraging better dietary choices can be the artillery used in the battle against these debilitating disorders: diabetes and obesity. Knowledge is power, and if people have the right tools, more and more people will be able to make sound dietary decisions.