Dr Ben Bikman, author of “Why We Get Sick” and associate profession at Brigham Young University spoke in a Diet Doctor podcast. Dr. Bikman studies the hormone insulin. As a PhD, unlike physicians he points out that, he is fortunate because he gets paid to be curious.
He describes insulin resistance as both high levels of insulin in the blood (hyperinsulinemia) and as cellular resistance to insulin. All cells in the body may not be insulin resistant at the same time. Muscle cells can be insulin resistance while the ovaries, for instance, are not. Consequently the high insulin levels can provoke high levels of estradiol – this can be a hallmark of polycystic ovary syndrome.
He prefers to describe insulin as the hormone that controls fuel in the body. Insulin directs the use, storage, or waste of energy.
Puberty and pregnancy are naturally high insulin states.
High glucose can be dangerous to the epithelial walls of the blood vessels as the production of nitric oxide meant to relax the vessels is diminished.
In cognition problems, insulin function in the brain declines and the brain has less glucose to use as fuel. Fasting insulin levels can be more prediction of Alzheimer’s and neurodegenerative disease than age can.
Dr. Bikman describes three main reasons for developing insulin resistance. The first is high cortisol and catecholamines such as adrenaline and noradrenaline. Synthetic cortisol like drugs such as prednisone, betamethasone, and methylprednisolone induce insulin resistance. The second is sleep deprivation.
Insulin resistance can be detected the next day. Finally, there is inflammation. Hyperinsulinemia occurs immediately.
There is an importance secondary cause. This is the excessive linoleic acid, the most commonly eaten fat now. This includes soy, corn, and canola oils. Fat cells become hypertrophic and insulin resistant.
Insulin resistance is a disease of prosperity. What we eat, how much and when, sleep, and the entire lifestyle provoke insulin resistance. Metabolic flexibility, having our bodies move between fat and glucose as fuels is the key to overcoming insulin resistance.
Exercise can bring down high glucose levels and bring improvement for insulin resistance but is completely undone by following up with smoothies and energy drinks with sugars. Resistance training is very effective, but you must get to the muscle burn or muscle fatigue level.
Fasting and low carbohydrate diets (not low-fat diets) improve insulin resistance. If you eat one meal a day and then overeat, you lose the positive effect. Although loss of sleep provokes insulin resistance, improving sleep does not restore insulin sensitivity.
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