It’s The Insulin Stupid, Part 2

This is part 2 of who knows how many parts really, looking at Amy Berger’s series It’s The Insulin, Stupid.  Her content is definitely worth a read by itself, providing a perspective from a hip and knowledgeable expert on nutrition who just happened to stumble on the work of Dr. Joseph Kraft while hanging out in the low carb community, and then shares some very good insights on this that I’m sure her readers will appreciate.

Dr. Joseph Kraft is indeed a pioneer in our field, and he is deserving of this accolade simply because he bothered to test people for insulin levels.  He did this over a period of a career, testing and compiling the insulin and blood sugar records of patients undergoing an oral glucose challenge, and came up with over 10,000 records, which he meticulously kept in a database.

These patients weren’t all diabetics or those who diabetes was suspected, which are the folks that normally are given an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT).  That test has been given countless times and is one of the standard means whereby diabetes is diagnosed, or glucose intolerance.

Dr. Kraft gave this to all patients though, and that’s one of the two ways that he really stood out here, we got a very good look at how the typical person fares on this test.  Now we did have some metrics for non diabetics of course, for instance we know what this is supposed to look like for a non diabetic, and how high you have to go in order to be diagnosed with pre diabetes, 140 2 hours after drinking 75 grams of liquid glucose, and over 200 to be diagnosed with diabetes itself.

There are other ways to diagnose diabetes of course, the most widely used one being the A1C test, measuring the degree of glycation of your red blood cells, and that’s the gold standard really, although the OGTT is still often given.

Now we know that a certain percentage of people will fall into the pre diabetic range and a certain percentage will be in the diabetic range, and we do keep up with that with trials, and there’s nothing that special to be learned here no matter how many of these you do, you can keep up to date on trends, but it’s still impressive that someone would be running so many of these tests for so many years on their patients, because at least in a clinical setting we don’t really pay much attention at all to look to screen for diabetes, believe it or not.

A lot of diabetics end up finding out they have the disease after many years into it.  Ideally you would discover this at the early stages of where glucose starts to rise, if one had their blood sugar regularly monitored as part of routine care, the way they screen us for cholesterol for instance.  This isn’t the case at all though and you might find out you had this decades after you first got diabetes in some cases.

So doing all these OGTT tests was certainly laudable, but the big reason why Dr. Joseph Kraft achieved such renown is that he just didn’t test for glucose during these OGTTs, he tested insulin levels as well, and he also continued on past the normal 2 hours to 4 hours, to measure both the insulin and glucose levels further.

In spite of the central role that insulin plays in diabetes, we just don’t test insulin levels very often at all, and when we do, we generally only look to use it to diagnose type 1 diabetes, where insulin production drops to near zero or zero.  If you are higher than this, who cares, doctors will tell you that there’s no clinical significance to knowing what they are, because they are clueless to even why insulin levels matter.

Insulin levels though are far from insignificant, as we know that this is the central driver of not only diabetes but a host of other metabolic diseases, including obesity, high cholesterol, heart disease, high blood pressure, non alcoholic fatty liver disease, and more.

These conditions, including diabetes, aren’t even diseases, they are all symptoms of the disease of hyperinsulinemia, which is what pathologically high levels of insulin is called.  High insulin causes a great deal of illness, and even is implicated in cancer, due to the fact that insulin is the most anabolic hormone there is, it’s the growth hormone, and too much of this does all sorts of bad things to us, including excess proliferation of cancer cells.

So you would think that we would be screened for high insulin levels, given its importance.  The medical community isn’t even aware of all of this though, because their knowledge is limited to a very narrow scope that is carefully crafted and fed to them to best promote conventional protocols, and making us well or even trying has no place in any of this, sadly.

Even if you are a diabetic on insulin therapy, you would have to beg to get your insulin tested, even though we could rightly say that it is malpractice to administer or look to raise any hormone without monitoring it.  People can be on insulin for life and never have their insulin tested actually.

When you think of it though, what use would the results of an insulin test be to a typical medical doctor anyway?  He or she won’t be using this information to prescribe, they won’t have the slightest idea why this matters, so they will just continue on with their standard protocols, which generally involves worsening the hormonal imbalances behind the high blood sugar, raising their fists like idiots at very short term blood sugar reduction but entirely missing that they are accelerating the progression of the disease and also increasing the risk and magnitude of other metabolic disorders along the way.

So who cares about insulin levels anyway?  Well Dr. Kraft did, and his over 10,000 OGTT tests with both glucose and insulin values is to this day the only really comprehensive database we have to give us insights into how this all fits together.

I’ll resume talking about the significance of all this in Part 3.

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