It's time to look at another video related to diabetes, and this time we'll be looking at "Insulin Levels Are The Key To Everything" by Brian Sanderoff, a holistic pharmacist who runs a health site called wellbeinggps.com.
Just from the title, it's obvious that this talk is going to be centered around the importance of insulin levels, and Brian points out right off the bat that this is not something we really pay attention to, we test for a lot of different things but we rarely test for insulin.
There are lots of studies that show that caloric restriction increases lifespan, and one of the things that happens when we do this is we keep insulin levels low, and therefore insulin levels may be related not only to disease, but lifespan as well. This is a point that Dr. Ron Rosedale has made and he believes strongly in this.
While a lot of these studies have been focused on other species, it's also been shown that humans who have lower insulin levels tend to live longer as well, and this makes sense as well since insulin drives nutrients into cells, and less nutrients being driven into cells ends up stressing the cells less, although you do need enough as well.
It's certainly true that if you have too much insulin, then you become insulin resistant, and that's not healthy at all, and no one would claim that it is actually. So the fact that higher levels of insulin and therefore more insulin resistance would result in a shorter lifespan makes perfect sense.
Brian mentions that insulin's main job isn't to lower blood sugar, as some people think, it's actually the body's storage hormone, and storing is what it does primarily, even though it does have the effect of lowering blood sugar as well. This is important because we need to not only pay attention to its effects on our blood sugar but it's effects on storing, lest we store too much, and most people these days do.
Insulin also has some other functions, he mentions it being an anabolic hormone, and also it's role in storing magnesium. So more here isn't better, when you have too much then you are less sensitive to it, which can lead to poorer cellular absorption of certain nutrients.
He also mentions sodium retention and too much insulin definitely does this, as well as messing up blood lipids, another frequently seen phenomenon of hyperinsulinemia.
So how to we get excess insulin? Well the diet is the primary driver of this, and we simply eat too many carbs, more than the body is designed to handle. So these carbs cause too much insulin to be secreted, and then this excess insulin then causes our body to be more insulin resistant, and then you need more and more insulin to do the job, and more and more gets secreted.
He points out that elevated blood sugar only appears many years later after this problem develops, and a lot of people may think, well my blood sugar is fine so no worries, but when insulin starts becoming elevated than the wheels are set in motion here, and higher insulin is not healthy at all whether or not you ever develop high blood sugar.
So insulin will first look to store glucose as glycogen, and then when these stores get filled, it then turns to storing it as fat, so it's not hard to see how both excessive intakes of carbs and excess intakes of insulin lead to obesity, and it's the combination that does us in here.
He goes on to say that high insulin also overstimulates the sympathetic nervous system, and that is actually true, and although he doesn't mention the real reason why this should be a concern, in particular it can mess up the hypothalamus and end up worsening insulin resistance as a result, so this can be another vicious circle.
He does mention the risks of messing up the sympathetic nervous system as it relates to worsening cardiovascular health, and insulin resistance and high insulin have clearly been shown to be a big risk factor in cardiovascular disease, although this is just one of several mechanisms that increase this risk.
Insulin, being a growth factor, also has been associated with the risk of cancer, which is also known. He also mentions high insulin interfering with conversion of the thyroid hormone T4 to its active form T3, and since excessive insulin causes fatty liver, and this conversion takes place in the liver, this can really screw up your thyroid function as well, and prescription T4 can't help this either, because T4 isn't the problem here.
Brian recommends people get their fasting insulin tested, and this is indeed important, and can reveal problems with glucose metabolism long before blood sugar tests can, because insulin levels need to be messed up for a very long time before glucose levels even start to become too high.
Since blood tests are just how you compare to the average, just being average isn't enough as a lot of people have unhealthy high levels and a healthy range is below 10 and preferably below 5.
So what are the solutions to high insulin? He mentions the necessity of restricting carbs, and he rightly points out that it doesn't really matter what kind of carbs there are, however certain carbs produce less insulin spikes, which is at least a little more preferable, but I do think that he puts too much stock in this and especially if you are a diabetic this usually just means that you won't go up so fast but you will go up for longer, and the area under the curve, meaning your overall insulin levels, is similar.
Brian mentions the ratio of 20% carbs, 20% protein, and 60% fat as being ideal, and I must say that this is a lot better ratio than what we're normally told. I eat a diet pretty close to this myself actually and I think that this is pretty close to the ideal at least. This requires us to not only reduce carbs from the normal 45-55% level down to 20, increase protein a little, and increase fat a lot.
He also mentions how we need to exercise more, which is hard to argue against, although I do feel that we need to focus more on certain types of exercise, resistance training tends to be pretty helpful.
He also mentions a few supplements you can take to help this, fish oil, chromium, vanadium, cinnamon, and he mentions that there are others that can be helpful, and indeed there are, and some even better ones than these, which we will be speaking about later on.
So this is a rather simple presentation but a pretty good one overall, and his goals are certainly in line with mine and others who take insulin levels seriously, as we really must.