Pre-Diabetes & Insulin Resistance
According to the CDC, 88 million Americans have a condition known as pre-diabetes, the precursor to Type II Diabetes. Pre-diabetes is where the body has elevated blood sugar levels and cells are becoming more resistant to insulin successfully transporting the blood sugar into cells for storage. When the body’s normal insulin production is unsuccessful in storing blood sugar in the cells, the body recognizes this as a serious issue, and responds by creating more insulin. So, as an illustration, where 1 unit of insulin may have been enough to pull sugar from the blood and store it into cells before, as the body becomes insulin resistant, 2, 3, 5, 10 or more units of insulin will be required to “force” sugar into the cells. When the cells become full, and there is no further ability for the cells to store sugar, the body has to convert that blood sugar to storage…fat. This whole process is known as insulin resistance, and is the step before being diagnosed with Type II Diabetes.
As highlighted in the article attached, pre-diabetes & insulin resistance pose a host of physiological and cognitive problems, one of which is raising the risk of heart disease that can lead to heart attack or stroke. In fact, those with pre-diabetes are almost 2X more likely to suffer from a heart attack or stroke compared to those who are not in a pre-diabetic state. If you’re not sure whether this is serious, consider heart disease is responsible for 650,000 – 700,000 deaths in the U.S. every year, or 1 out of every 4 deaths across the population.
Avoiding Becoming Pre-Diabetic
Pre-diabetes, insulin resistance and ultimately Type II Diabetes are largely diet and lifestyle related, so the good news is we can avoid these conditions by incorporating lifestyle changes.
- Change Our Food Mix. Eliminating high sugar foods and drinks like soda, juice, candy, cookies and sweets is a great place to start. They offer empty calories, stimulate significant insulin responses, and drive wild swings in blood sugar levels that cause you to eat more, and more often, creating the pre-diabetic condition. But we have to move further. Of the three macronutrients (Carbohydrates or “Carbs”; Protein; Fat), carbs stimulate insulin significantly more than the other two. And given our diet is consistently falling into the 55% – 75% range of calories from carbohydrates, we are stimulating A LOT of insulin. Bread, pasta, rice, beans, fruit, cereal, snack bars, chips, potatoes and pretzels all are loaded with starch (in addition to sugar in some cases) and stimulate insulin, so we need to shift our diet away from carbs and more towards healthy fats, quality protein and vegetables.
- Change Our Feeding Frequency. We are snacking more and more as a population, and it only increased during the work-at-home pandemic conditions. In addition to adding calories, snacking drives insulin production, as every time you eat something you are stimulating insulin…especially when you’re eating carbs. If you’re eating throughout the day, you may think you’re doing the “right thing” by eating low fat snacks, but in reality, you’re creating that pre-diabetic condition through a constant insulin release. Frequent snacking strains the gastro-intestinal system (GI), can stress the liver (especially if you’re eating a lot of fruit), and forces the body to find places to store all those starches. Plus, so long as insulin is being produced, fat metabolism is shut down, a double-whammy of a problem in an insulin-resistant body where the cells are so full that the extra starch/sugar gets converted to fat. The good news is we can affect this as well by incorporating intermittent fasting. Starving myself? NO! Intermittent fasting is not starving, but it is creating long windows of time where you are not eating so the GI system, insulin resistance and fat metabolism can correct, leading to a healthier overall condition.
- Change Our Mindset. Have you ever asked why you might be unwilling to spend more on quality food at the grocery store, and to cook a whole, natural meal, but yet are more than willing to spend money consistently on poor quality foods and medicines to account for a poor diet? Consider food as healing fuel…that what you eat, how you eat and your investment in food quality is an investment in your health, wellness, longevity, anti-aging and ability to live a full life vs. a medicated existence. So many of the chronic conditions we face as a society are driven by self-inflicted wounds, and our dietary choices are well within our control. Choose wisely…