Blood sugar imbalances are implicated in more disease processes than just diabetes. In fact, insulin resistance is discussed as one of the risk factors for dementia. It is a good reason to know a bit more about it.
What is Insulin?
Getting back to basics, what is insulin? Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas in response to blood sugar levels. It helps the glucose broken down from our food move into cells all over the body to be used for the production of energy.
Insulin resistance is built up by several factors, including a diet rich in refined carbohydrates, refined sugars, heavily processed foods along with minimal exercise, stress and poor sleep patterns.
You are further at risk if your family history includes diabetes, or you are overweight particularly in the stomach area….as so many of us are!
Why does it matter?
As Dr Dale Bredesen states in his book: ‘The End of Alzheimer’s’ 2017:
‘….insulin resistance….is arguably the single most important metabolic contributor to Alzheimer’s disease development and progression.’
While insulin resistance is the more well-known precursor to diabetes, it also plays a contributory role in other diseases like peripheral vascular disease, heart disease, development of obesity, poor eye health, chronic fatigue, brain dysfunction and other conditions. Even if you are not in one of the higher risk groups, we are all at risk of developing some degree of this problem. It all depends on balance, and when the scales tip in favour of unhealthy choices, a lot of sitting and other factors as mentioned above, no matter who you are, your liver and pancreas will be under strain to keep the cells sensitive to insulin.
It is a very over-worked digestive system that finally sags into the final defeat of insulin resistance.
Avoiding insulin resistance
In order to restore or promote insulin resistance, you need the effective and pro-life formula of a good diet, regular exercise, restorative sleep and reduced stress. We have heard this so many times from health professionals in every area of expertise. That’s because it really is the magic formula. If you want to make a change that protects your life being impacted by ill-health or sub-optimal energy levels, then each of these aspects are your starting points.
Then it is like the scales, every small change you make gradually tips your chances towards a positive life affirming direction.
The best diet in the world
According to Dr Breseden, factors to consider for optimal eating and living are:
– low refined carbohydrate intake
– moderate exercise (regular brisk walking for example)
– eating the good fats (olive oil, avocado, seeds and nuts)
– having at least 12 hours of fasting between your last meal of the day and breakfast the next day to promote ketosis and metabolic flexibility
– largely plant based diet with meats used as a flavour component rather than the main portion
– preferably smaller fish like salmon, mackerel, herrings, sardines in preference to wide lipped long living fish. (the longer a fish lives, the more pollution gets into their flesh from our oceans)
– allow 3 hours between the end of your last meal and going to bed. (this stops your insulin from spiking before bedtime…. ‘something that can contribute not only to insulin resistance but also to the inhibition of melatonin and growth hormone, which aid in sleep and immune function, as well as repair.’
Ketosis plays an importance role in allowing time for the main organs of digestion to recover and regenerate following meal times. There is a great deal more science written about this, but the bottom line is, that your body needs a decent resting time between meals and a good sleep. If you eat lots of snacks while you are watching TV and then go to bed late on a full stomach, you probably won’t sleep too well, and your liver and digestive system will be flat out trying to get things back into balance. The result is you wake up tired, unrefreshed and then you go and eat a bowl of sugary cereal, with strong coffee and refined sugar just to whip your body into action again.
The diet minefield
Diets fail because they are too overwhelming, too different to everything you know or too expensive. Following a simple guide-line and making small changes which eventually open doors to big changes will lead to success.
Choose your first step, work on it until it feels normal and routine, then add your next step. The older you are, the better this will work, because we are creatures of habit. Good habits can replace entrenched bad habits by using this approach.
At the end of the day, we are all wanting good health and the ability to participate in life. We have choices, and we have weaknesses….the devil on your shoulder, saying, go on this little bit won’t hurt. Picture yourself how you want to be, and then make up your mind.