The road to chronic disease — from arthritis to heart disease — is paved with sugar and refined carbohydrates. It’s a freeway that leads straight to insulin resistance syndrome, given the right conditions, most notably being overweight and inactive.
The devastating chain of events that leads to chronic disease goes like this:
- Carbs and sugar break down in the digestive tract to glucose that the body uses for energy.
- Beta cells in the pancreas make and secrete insulin into the blood to ferry any glucose you don’t use to muscle, fat, and liver cells for storage.
- Given the right conditions and more glucose than your cells can manage at the moment, the call goes out for even more insulin.
- Beta cells keep the insulin flowing but eventually the body’s cells can’t absorb it or the glucose building up in your blood stream. That’s called insulin resistance.
- Eventually the beta cells can’t keep up and insulin levels plummet. Now your bloodstream is flooded with glucose, which damages nerves and blood vessels, causes inflammation, and leads to a host of chronic diseases.
Chronic Diseases Linked to Insulin Resistance Syndrome
Here’s a short list of what may lay ahead for you if you fail to reverse insulin resistance as soon as possible:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Prediabetes and diabetes
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (POS)
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
Take the First Exit
The sooner you give those beta cells a rest, the better your chances of avoiding insulin resistance and diabetes. The intervention is simple but not easy if you’ve spent a lifetime eating processed foods and drinking sweet sodas, like most of the U.S.
Here’s what you’ve got to do:
- Clear your cupboards and fridge of processed foods and those that contain sugar, even if they seem to be “healthy,” like packaged granola, energy bars, and even yogurts with fruit. If it comes in a bag or a box you should probably just get rid of it.
- Eat whole, “real” foods — that is, foods made with ingredients you recognize as foods and without pesticides, additives, or any ingredient you can’t pronounce. If its over 3 syllables get rid of it.
- Count your veggies and fruits. Seven to 10 servings a day is currently recommended. A serving is a half cup or, for lettuce and leafy greens, a cup . And this doesn’t mean 7-9 servings of fruit and 1 serving of veggies. Actually its the opposite. But for starting with, half and half is ok.
- Avoid simple carbs like sugar and white flours and eat complex ones found in high-fiber foods. These digest more slowly and don’t cause a surge in glucose. I’m not even touching on the subject of wheat/gluten here. That is a subject too big for this little post. Just know that for most people I’m not a fan.
- Regular exercise, particularly high intensity interval training (see my previous post on how to do HIT training for the most effective results), makes muscles more sensitive to insulin.
- Sleep well, night after night. Sleep deprivation has been shown to promote inflammation, obesity, adrenal fatigue, hormone issues and lot of other issues. Sleep is when your body heals itself so get lots of quality sleep.
Of course it’s not always as easy as do this or that and things will be all hunky dory, there are a lot of health issues that can get in the way of doing some of the simple things outlined above. If you need some help give my office a call. I also do online consultations as well.
I’m Dr. Craig Mortensen
Be healthy, be happy!
P.S. - If you have any boring health question that you think would make a good blog of video blog please e-mail me. It’s not that I don’t have enough topics to talk about. My list is already too long, but I’m always up for new ideas.