Insulin Dangers…and Fixes
Elizabeth had a tumor in the pancreas many years ago and had surgery to remove half her pancreas. Ten years later, she developed diabetes and began insulin. Since injecting insulin, she started gaining weight and needed more and more insulin to bring her blood sugar down. But, with more insulin came more weight gain. Elizabeth also started getting other problems such as cholesterol elevation, brain dysfunction, kidney failure, heart problems, speech problems, numbness and tingling in her legs and feet, and difficulty walking. Elizabeth is an actress by trade and needs to memorize lines, but found it increasingly hard while taking insulin. With increasing insulin she had better control of the blood sugar, but her body was shutting down!
Functions of Insulin
Insulin is a primary metabolic hormone which acts on ALL tissues in the body. When food is ingested, insulin is released to signal all the cells that nutrients are available. This has multiple effects on the body:
- Blood sugar decreases because sugar is brought from the blood into the cells
- Fat cells make more fat
- Liver cells make glycogen, a storage form of sugar
- Insulin blocks the use of fat for energy
- Muscle and other cells bring in sugar, storing the extra for later use
- The cells bring in more amino acids to make proteins
- The energy systems are stimulated (sodium-potassium pumps)
- Arteries open to increase blood flow
You can see how insulin affects every cell in the body, regulating energy and even protein production. Thus, an imbalance in the amount of insulin can affect many functions in the body – quickly. For example, too much insulin will lower blood sugar so much that the brain will be starving for energy. It can cause fainting, coma and even death! On the other hand, when there is no insulin, many cells cannot get energy and they waste away. Before injections were available, people with type 1 diabetes, often died of starvation. No matter how much they ate, glucose and protein couldn’t get into the cells, eventually causing death.
On an immediate basis, too much insulin can cause brain damage or death. But on a long-term basis, we also see many other effects, or lack of effects, as the body becomes resistant to insulin. I will give one example:
Imagine that insulin is the key that unlocks the door to let glucose into the cell. There are many such “doors” in each cell. So if there is more insulin, it opens more doors and more sugar gets in.
Now, let’s say you followed advice from the 1980s. You eat 5 small meals every day, snack every few hours and never have an empty stomach. Each time you eat, you make more insulin, letting more glucose into the cell. When the cell becomes full of sugar, it starts closing and locking the glucose doors from the inside. You guessed it — insulin no longer works!
Insulin Resistance In Your Body
We call this “insulin resistance.” Essentially, the cells have too much sugar and are not going to let in anymore, so the sugar builds up in the blood. That’s why the blood sugar gets high – which we call “diabetes.”
The story continues in your fat cells, which becomes a significant issue. Fat cells do not block insulin, nor do they shut the door to glucose. Fat cells just keep making fat. We always have the same number of fat cells. Fat cells just get bigger as they store more fat and smaller as it gets taken out and used, like when we aren’t eating. Thus, while the muscle cells in our body can stop sugar from getting in, fat cells cannot. They just keep getting fatter.
A third problem of having insulin all the time is its effects will diminish all over the body. Insulin resistance causes many of the complications of diabetes:
- Blood sugar increases because it can’t get into the cells
- Fat cells make more fat – making you fatter
- Liver cells make excess glycogen and create fatty liver disease
- Energy decreases due to inability to use fat
- Fat increases in the blood causing atherosclerosis
- The cells can’t bring in amino acids to make proteins preventing repair
- The sodium-potassium pumps stop working creating low energy
- Arteries constrict causing nerve cells to die, or neuropathy
- Blood pressure is also elevated from artery constriction
Now, we can see why Elizabeth was having so many problems as she was becoming more insulin resistant. Insulin resistance acts on some tissues like you don’t have enough (arteries), and others like you have too much (fat)! Either way, your body isn’t working properly. Now, what happens if we add more insulin? The problems get worse! As Elizabeth’s doctor was increasing her insulin, Elizabeth’s body was creating more problems, not less. Therefore, it is essential to know your insulin level and the function of your pancreas.
What Can I Do To Lower Insulin?
People are confused by so many different suggestions to lower insulin. “Do I eat PALEO, or ESSELSTYN? Do I eat KETO or VEGAN?” Many doctors and dietitians are still giving the same advice that was debunked over thirty years ago, that of eating frequent small meals. Since insulin is made every time we eat, it is not good for those with insulin resistance to graze all day, rather a program of “feast and fast” can bring balance to the energy systems of the body.
The way to get the system working again is to have the MINIMUM insulin you can get away. Those provides your body with adequate glucose to your cells without over-filling them. Essentially, you want to make insulin only a few times per day so there is a break to reset the system. Moreover, your body needs a significant amount of time without insulin or sugar coming into the cells so the cells can use what stores they have.
Research is indicating that having an empty stomach is the best way to fight insulin resistance.
A comparison done on people eating during eight hours every day showed improved insulin sensitivity over those eating the same calories over twelve hours. When you have an empty stomach, it’s called “fasting.” There are many who advocate “fasting” by just eating smaller amounts of food. This may have certain benefits of a low-calorie diet, but not all the benefits of fasting. An empty stomach produces hormones that re-build your body and reset your digestive system, as well as making you more sensitive to insulin. The longer you have an empty stomach, the better.
The importance of this cannot be over-emphasized. We are very tied to the notion that eating certain foods will make us healthy. We think that we need to get our “POWER GREENS” or “SUPERFOODS” to be healthy. Many supplements claim to make you more sensitive to insulin, but, in the long run, they don’t really work. People literally waste millions or billions of dollars every year on supplements and foods in hopes of getting healthy or losing weight to get off insulin. But when all they need to do is…
- Stop snacking.
- Stop eating at night.
- Stop putting stuff in your mouth – candy, gum, water, or anything.
Elizabeth admitted she was a food addict. She got a “sponsor” coach and stuck to a long-term “cleanse” (sort of like fasting, but light eating – she drank bone broth morning and afternoon for 30 days) because she only has half a pancreas.
In the first week she was off insulin and seeing normal blood sugars for the first time in years. Over the next couple of weeks her lost functions were gradually restored. She could think clearly and even went back to work. She could even walk without assistance. She began to sleep well and had no more pain in her feet. Considering her loss of function from the insulin took years to develop, she recovered remarkably fast. Now she does intermittent fasting, enjoying her favorite foods, eating two meals daily, 7 A.M. and 2 P.M. She eats what she wants but doesn’t snack between meals.
A healthy diet program will save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on food and supplements. The three simple rules for avoiding insulin toxicity are:
- Eat healthy meals between 7:00 A.M. and 3:00 P.M.
- Don’t snack between meals.
- Ideally, have 4 or more hours between meals.
You can squeeze three meals in 8 hours. It is the 16 hours from 3:00 P.M. to 7:00 A.M. that fixes and optimizes your system:
- You will burn fat appropriately
- Your cells will accept insulin
- Your hormones will function as they were designed to do
- You will have more energy and be less hungry
- And, it will bring world peace!
OK, it won’t fix everything, but it will help you live a longer and healthier life.