GETTING TO THE ROOT OF INSULIN RESISTANCE
GETTING TO THE ROOT OF INSULIN RESISTANCE
What is Insulin Resistance?
Insulin is a pro-inflammatory hormone made by the pancreas and released into the bloodstream by stimulation from blood sugar known as glucose. Insulin resistance occurs when insulin receptors on cells become inflamed and less responsive to insulin in the bloodstream, this can be due to periods of time with chronic high blood sugar paired with excessive insulin release almost stripping or overworking the receptors.
HIGH CARB DIET→ HIGH BLOOD SUGAR→ HIGH INSULIN RELEASE→ EXCESS SUGAR RAPIDLY MOVES INTO FAT STORAGE→ SUGAR DROP DRIVES FATIGUE AND HUNGER→ INCREASED CONSUMPTION OF FOOD→ MORE WEIGHT
This is quite a chicken-egg relationship as the fat itself drives more insulin resistance requiring more insulin release and then this excess insulin drives additional body fat! Beyond glucose levels driving insulin release non-caloric sugar-free sweeteners (stevia, splenda, swerve, sweet and low, etc.) trick the body into releasing insulin from stimulation but lead to dysfunction in the receptor as there is no sugar in the blood stream leading to a “boy who cried wolf” scenario in the body so receptors become less responsive. But more on this below…In this blog I am breaking down drivers to insulin resistance as well as solutions with advanced functional medicine and dietary solutions.
Solutions for Insulin Resistance!
Cut carbs and consider Ketosis
Find your mellow and manage your cortisol
Try intermittent fasting and reduce your feeding frequency
Support micronutrient needs
Detox your body and avoid endocrine disruptors
Remove all non-caloric sweeteners
Cut Carbs and Consider Ketosis!
Keep carbs in check with a ketogenic high fat low carbohydrate diet. When the body manufactures ketones as primary fuel source from body fat as fuel rather than glucose from carbohydrates, insulin sensitivity is enhanced and cell receptors become less inflamed from less abuse. This supports weight loss in someone that was dealing with insulin resistance weight gain and ketones can be a cleaner fuel for your brain supporting balanced mood and energy. Yes, ketones can be magical…if you haven’t experienced ketosis personally, stop reading and check out my Virtual Ketosis program here! Not convinced a high fat diet will burn fat on your body? Learn more in my keto ebook bundle: Ketogenic Kickstart and Eat Fat Get Skinny!
Sleep and Stress Management!
A night of quality sleep (ideally 7-8 hours) does a number on your hormones and your body’s inflammatory response. When the body has interrupted sleep or abnormal cortisol response insulin resistance is expressed and often glucose production is stimulated driving blood sugar irregularities. In fact this study, determined cortisol as the best biomarker for inflammatory insulin resistance. Stress drives cortisol release which reduces adiponectin a positive metabolic hormone in your body’s fat that drives favorable use of insulin (insulin sensitivity). This survival mechanism during high stress or fight-or-flight reduces insulin sensitivity driving the body to release more insulin hormone driving more fat storage and stripping receptors contributing to more insulin resistance! Think about it…if your body is in survival, historically it was food insecure during this time, so the body goes to shut down metabolism and maintain elevated blood sugar with insulin resistance. Stress and poor sleep literally puts the brakes on your metabolism and drives diabetic risk. Consider my Stress Supporting Supplement bundle to help you find your “mellow” as you pick up healthy habits like yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and deep breath.
“Yes good old vitamin O2 (oxygen) via relaxation and rediscovering your mellow, may be the most beneficial weight loss boost.”
Practice Intermittent Fasting!
We live in an overfed state where food exposure is constant and this overstimulation of food exhausts the insulin response. This can be seen as ongoing dinging of a door bell keeping the body in a content fed state leading the overwhelmed body to drive rapid fat storage from the excess. Adding intermittent fasting to the mix of a high fat, low carb anti-inflammatory diet can enhance insulin sensitivity and allow the body to go deeper into fat as fuel. Intermittent fasting technique of 16/8 or 18/6 16-18 hours without food paired with a 6-8 hour period of feasting, is a great place to start for 3-5 days/wk. This time frame often falls during sleeping such as 8pm-12pm the following day for 16/8 or 8pm-2pm for a 18/6.
Perhaps one of the most powerful ways to extend your life and optimize your health is through reduced calorie consumption and intermittent fasting. The practice of allowing the body to shift from fed to fasting state of physiology can aid in lowering fasting glucose, reduce blood sugar irregularities, aid in insulin sensitivity and can play a role in enhancing cellular function via a process of recycling or auto-digestion of dysfunctional parts called autophagy. More on this in an article to come (and episode 63 of my podcast), but for intent of insulin, the mechanism proposed is that fasting further aids in glycogen depletion and eventually drives the body to metabolize stored fat in muscle and liver breaking down the tissues that drove insulin resistance. This same mechanism of fat metabolism and breakdown is proposed to support lowering of oxidized cholesterol in blood vessels and brain plaque driving reduced risk of heart disease and dementia!
Support micronutrient needs!
Many minerals and vitamins play a role with insulin receptor function. Vitamin K, Carnitine, and Chromium are all key drivers of insulin receptor function! Eat a diet with a variety of foods that fit within your program including raw aged cheeses and probiotics for K2, red meat (grassfed) and wild seafood, and broccoli, nuts, seeds, and cinnamon! Consider Multidefense phytocompound multivitamin which has over 100% daily need of nutrients in most bioavailable form blended with antioxidants. Carnitine is featured nutrient my Boost and Burn liquid supplement recommended for aiding metabolism supporting the body’s use of fat as fuel and insulin sensitivity! Vitamin K is produced in your GI tract so ensuring healthy bowel motility and gut bacteria will reflect your state of probiotic production. Consider a good quality probiotic supplement comprised of 50:50 blend of lacto and biffido strains and enrich your diet with a cultured food per day!
Avoid Endocrine Disruptors and participate in 10-day Real Food Detox!
These chemicals are ubiquitous in our modern society and oooo so harmful to our hormones. From influencing the thyroid gland driving hashimoto’s and hypothyroid, the ovaries/testes driving infertility and sexual dysfunction, and pancreatic function as well as cell response driving insulin resistance. These chemicals including bisphenol A, persistent organic pollutants (including dioxin, and PCBs), pesticides, and phthalates have influence on a gland that is more potent, less potent, or totally different than the hormone it is mimicking. Think Perfumes, Pesticides, and Plastics when looking to limit these compounds. Choosing a Naturally Nourished whole foods diet made from single ingredients with organic and local sourcing where possible is a great way to reduce exposure, however it is almost impossible to completely eliminate. For this reason, I have created my 10-day Real Food Detox. Learn more about what detox is and why it is important here and how you can go about it in my virtual program with supplemental support with my 10-day Real Food Detox! Detoxification can support rebalancing metabolic and gland function which can support insulin sensitivity.
Remove ALL artificial sweeteners!
Yes, all of them….step away from the Swerve and Stevia! Many of you reading my blog understand the dangers of refined processed sugar and high fructose corn syrup as well as aspartame and splenda the more artificial ones, but there seems to be a “halo effect” on “natural” processed non-caloric sweeteners that I would like to unveil.
Regardless of how “clean” you grind it up or process it into a clear liquid, there is a psychosomatic influence of non-caloric sweeteners on insulin release. Just like Pavlov’s dog with the ringing of the dinner bell associated with food and the dogs salivating to the auditory stimulation, your body can have physiological response with insulin to taste without a glucose effect. The taste of sweet stimulates your body to gain weight and eat more and research continues to demonstrate this!
Erythritol (Swerve) is an alcohol sugar that many state is non-digested from studies that demonstrate absorption in small intestine with excretion in the urine of about 90% of the compound intact. This argument is that there are neutral effects on the body and this alcohol sugar doesn’t evoke an insulin response. A new study, led by Cornell University researchers has identified the sugar alcohol erythritol as a biomarker for increasing fat mass.
Beyond this finding and the taste receptor argument, it is derived from corn, a proinflammatory ingredient often laden with toxins and neuro-hormone disruptors. Starting with this suboptimal ingredient, the processing it takes to make the corn into a non-clumping white powder includes many steps involving additional chemicals adding insult to injury!
The best way to reduce insulin sensitivity…break up with sugar and sweet sensations with a REAL food ketosis approach while resetting metabolism with detox, stress reduction and sleep!
Likely within a year of this article going live, there will be another “hot halo non-caloric sweetener” and I am 100% confident I too will not be on board. Regardless of sourcing, structure, or function, a non-caloric or low-calorie sweetener plays a trick on the body which will ultimately have a negative influence on metabolism whether it leads to overeating, hunger, insulin resistance, body fat storage, or simply creating false relationships with food.
When transitioning to a high fat low carb diet such as ketosis, the most successful win is to truly Redefine your Relationship with Food and break up with sugar.
I remember the first time a client looked at me and told me how sweet a natural almond was and I use this when I modify my recipes in my Naturally Nourished cookbook to simple remove the sweeteners vs. replace! Such can be done with my Pumpkin Pancakes on my blog (remove the maple syrup, add 2 Tbsp coconut oil to batter and reduce coconut flour to 1/8 cup) bringing the carbs to less than 6-8g per pancake, totally keto-friendly and 100% real food! Having a constant stimulation of sweet even in the chance without direct physiological repercussions can have downstream effects on blood sugar and insulin resistance from interference with behavioral evolution and palate change.
Ultimately, in order to optimize your metabolism and re-sensitize your insulin receptors requires a real food diet low carb high fat diet that reduces inflammation, optimized nutrient density to support healthy receptor function with reduced insulin stimulation. Beyond diet and nutrient support, lifestyle elements of detox stress and sleep need to be addressed for whole body health and diabetes prevention or management.
RESOURCES: IF YOU WANT TO GET REALLY NERDY!
Anson RM, Guo Z, Cabo R de, Iyun T, Rios M, Hagepanos A, et al. Intermittent fasting dissociates beneficial effects of dietary restriction on glucose metabolism and neuronal resistance to injury from calorie intake. Proc Natl Acad Sci. 2003 May 13;100(10):6216–20.
McCurdy CE, Cartee GD. Akt2 Is Essential for the Full Effect of Calorie Restriction on Insulin-Stimulated Glucose Uptake in Skeletal Muscle. Diabetes. 2005 May 1;54(5):1349–56.
Amita Yadav, Megha A. Kataria, Vandana Saini, Anil Yadav, Role of leptin and adiponectin in insulin resistance, In Clinica Chimica Acta, Volume 417, 2013, Pages 80-84, ISSN 0009-8981, doi:10.1016/j.cca.2012.12.007
Lehrke M, Broedl UC, Biller-Friedmann IM, et al. Serum concentrations of cortisol, interleukin 6, leptin and adiponectin predict stress induced insulin resistance in acute inflammatory reactions. Critical Care. 2008;12(6):R157. doi:10.1186/cc7152.
Colman RJ, Anderson RM, Johnson SC, Kastman EK, Kosmatka KJ, Beasley TM, et al. Caloric Restriction Delays Disease Onset and Mortality in Rhesus Monkeys. Science. 2009 Jul 10;325(5937):201–4.
Larson-Meyer DE, Heilbronn LK, Redman LM, Newcomer BR, Frisard MI, Anton S, et al. Effect of Calorie Restriction With or Without Exercise on Insulin Sensitivity, β-Cell Function, Fat Cell Size, and Ectopic Lipid in Overweight Subjects. Diabetes Care. 2006 Jun 1;29(6):1337–44.
Heilbronn LK, de Jonge L, Frisard MI, DeLany JP, Larson-Meyer DE, Rood J, et al. Effect of 6-month calorie restriction on biomarkers of longevity, metabolic adaptation, and oxidative stress in overweight individuals: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA J Am Med Assoc. 2006 Apr 5;295(13):1539–48.
Swithers SE. Artificial sweeteners produce the counterintuitive effect of inducing metabolic derangements. Trends in endocrinology and metabolism: TEM. 2013;24(9):431-441. doi:10.1016/j.tem.2013.05.005.
Volkow ND, Wang G-J, Baler RD. Reward, dopamine and the control of food intake: implications for obesity. Trends in cognitive sciences. 2011;15(1):37-46. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2010.11.001.
Bellisle F. Intense Sweeteners, Appetite for the Sweet Taste, and Relationship to Weight Management. Current Obesity Reports. 2015;4(1):106-110. doi:10.1007/s13679-014-0133-8.
I try to follow a lchf / ketogenic diet to help prevent insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome. But I have always had very bad sleep, since I was a kid. It takes me a while to fall a sleep, and I wake up often to urinate, and go back to sleep quickly. Except for some nights its the opposite, I fall to sleep quickly but if I wake up it takes a while to fall back to sleep. I try to follow all the standard recommendations, such as avoiding screens before bed, etc. . . It’s been like this since I was in elementary school.
Are all my dietary efforts for nothing if I cannot get good sleep? Will I still get insulin resistance, atherosclerosis, or diabetes?
Sleep is super important as a foundational layer for sure. Check out this podcast for more ideas on how you can optimize sleep! https://www.alimillerrd.com/podcast/naturally-nourished-episode-81-addressing-insomnia-with-food-as-medicine/