I’ve already written an article on adiponectin a while ago, called Adiponectin, Visceral Fat, and Lipolysis, but this is an extremely important hormone that a lot of people haven’t heard about and it merits further discussion. In this article I want to approach this more from the perspective of how doing the wrong things makes this problem worse, and the disease of diabetes worse in particular.
The original article does have a technical sounding title but none of my articles are of that sort, and what it boils down to is that being fat begets being fat, and the fatter you get, the lower your adiponectin levels, and the more likely you are to stay fat or get fatter, among other issues.
Low adiponectin levels are particularly implicated in excess visceral fat, the kind that accumulates in your abdomen and in the abdominal cavity actually, where the organs go, and this is not the place that you want a bunch of fat. That’s a whole other topic though and this time I want to talk more about how adiponectin is related to other hormones that play a central role in diabetes and obesity, particularly insulin.
So if you’ve read much at all on this site, you’ll know that insulin is the main hormonal culprit in metabolic disease, the kingpin, but it’s not the only hormone that we need to pay attention to, that’s for sure.
Adiponectin is a fairly major player actually, although you do have to have at least a basic idea of what goes on with metabolic disorders, but more and more people are being introduced to this by various internet sources, and the internet has done a great deal to educate the public.
This isn’t influencing conventional medicine very much of course, and it’s said that conventional medicine is typically 50 years behind medical science, and that might be a conservative estimate. I think it’s more true to say they can ignore medical science for this long or longer and get away with it, or have had this ability, due to the fact that people look to them and not science for their information, however this is changing now with the internet.
The first thing to know about adiponectin is that it is inversely correlated with BMI, the fatter you are, the less you have, and vice versa. There are a few reasons for this, one of them is certainly the fact that when adiponectin is low, you are more likely to get fat, but the biggest one is that when insulin levels are high, this is going to make you fat and put adiponectin down, making you even fatter.
In many ways, insulin and adiponectin are opposites, and even more so than insulin and glucagon being opposites, even though insulin is the main hormone that puts your blood sugar down and glucagon is the main hormone that puts it up, and both are secreted by the pancreas.
Insulin’s main role is not blood sugar regulation though, even though it does play a role in that, it’s main role is to store fat. It may or may not put your blood sugar down when it does this, and when it does, it’s a side effect of its fat storage capability. In excess, it will always store fat very well.
Now in our evolution as a species, fat storage has been very important to get us through the lean times, only now the lean times are gone and we simply eat too much all the time, and especially eat too many carbohydrates all the time, a condition that was made worse by all the low fat crap that has been around for the past few decades.
Insulin not only stores fat, it inhibits fat burning, and it is elevated when you eat too much glucose forming foods. When this happens, insulin levels increase to handle the extra glucose load, it stores it, and while its levels are high it inhibits fat burning, called lipolysis.
Over time, if high insulin levels persist, this will mean that the increased storage effects of insulin will persist as well, with or without high blood sugar. This all causes high blood sugar as well, and more and more people are getting it.
Adiponectin is the anti storage hormone so to speak, so in storage mode, the body does not want this to be high and therefore it goes down, helping us store and not burn fat.
The idea here is that when the feast is over and we have to go extended periods without eating much, a lot of fasting in other words, then insulin levels drop, adiponectin levels rise, and we can now burn this stored fat for energy, and overall we are protected during these lean periods.
Of course it’s all feast and no famine these days, and in fact we feed ourselves many times during the day, a feast on steroids really, and our insulin levels are typically on steroids as well, and our adiponectin levels are sick.
So not only do overweight people have low adiponectin levels, this is also a hallmark of type 2 diabetes as well. We get fat, we have trouble burning it, all from this excess insulin and excessive carb intake, and adiponectin would be helping us deal with this, but our levels are too low.
Aside from increasing fat burning and weight loss, adiponectin also plays a role in combating insulin resistance, increasing glucose uptake and lowering blood sugar that way, restraining hepatic glucose output, the extra blood sugar that causes hyperglycemia, it lowers triglycerides, it decreases inflammation, it protects against cardiovascular disease, and it regulates energy homeostasis.
So that’s a lot of benefits and certainly some huge ones for diabetics, and when you remove these benefits, this is enough in itself to cause diabetes, with increased inflammation, increased glucose put into our blood from our livers, higher triglycerides, more insulin resistance and reduced glucose uptake, excess adiposity (being fat), cardiovascular disease, and of course high blood sugar. Isn’t this all what type 2 diabetes is? Indeed it is.
What do you think will happen when we medicate to lower blood sugar for a time, and increase our fat storage along the way? Insulin levels go up, we get fatter, adiponectin levels decline further, this is not a treatment unless the goal is to make us worse in the end, and whether that’s the goal or not this is what happens.
This is why maintaining a normal weight is more important, much more so actually, than blood sugar management, and when you’re able to lower insulin and raise adiponectin, one’s blood sugar will improve, by actually improving the condition overall. This is not to suggest that adiposity is the only concern in diabetes, but it’s a central one that must be addressed, and must be prioritized, because when we don’t, we’re screwed regardless.
Eating less, losing weight, and in particular, controlling excess insulin is all central to this though. There are no shortcuts here, you aren’t going to take capsules of something and make this all better, without addressing the problem at its root cause, and it indeed is excess insulin that is behind all this and every metabolic disorder actually.
Perhaps you can also see why putting our insulin levels up even further, like just about all anti diabetic medications do, is such a bad idea, as this takes us in the opposite direction, pretending that high blood sugar is the only problem here, or that we can even control it over time with medications, and we know full well that this isn’t even possible, because as we worsen the disease, even short term blood sugar control gets harder and harder to manage, and the medications simply fail. This leaves us fatter, and much sicker in the end.
So managing insulin levels are crucial and the best way to do that is to manage our diet well. However, this does not mean that we can’t help ourselves along with taking certain things that can improve adiponectin levels. I mentioned African mango and raspberry ketones in the previous article, and this is how these two supplements help with fat burning and weight loss, by increasing adiponectin.
Eating less carbohydrate and controlling one’s insulin levels that way is an even bigger deal though and if we neglect this, nothing is going to work very well. Omega 3 fatty acids are also helpful in bringing up adiponectin levels, just one of several notable benefits to diabetics and overweight patients in general. Fenugreek is another supplement that can help here, and has been shown to have anti diabetic properties, and increasing adiponectin is one of the ways this helps us.
I would go as far as to say that adiponectin is right up there with insulin as the two most important hormones in metabolic disorders, even more so than leptin, glucagon, cortisol, and other big players. This is because a lot of these other hormonal disorders are downstream, after we store too much fat, after we become more insulin resistant, after we have the excess inflammation that increased adiposity, fatness, brings with it.
Lean diabetics also have low levels of adiponectin, so even if you aren’t fat, if you are a diabetic this hormone is well worth paying attention to. Things that help adiponectin levels also tend to normalize leptin as well, and in obese people it’s because it turns it down, but it may also increase its sensitivity in lean diabetics, and it’s all about lack of leptin sensitivity in both cases.
So adiponectin is probably the most important hormone most people have never heard of, and for most people these days, being overweight, it’s of particular significance.