Aging Forces: Insulin Resistance
Insulin resistance accelerates the aging process in multiple ways and puts your health at risk.
We will define insulin resistance, learn why insulin resistance accelerates aging, and review what we can do to reverse insulin resistance to improve health and slow aging.
Insulin is a powerful hormone with multiple functions in the body. The insulin hormone is released from the pancreas when our blood glucose level rise. The primary determinant of the rise in blood glucose levels is the quantity and quality of the carbohydrates we eat.
Insulin works by binding to receptors on the surface of cells. For example, insulin binds to receptors at the muscle cell surface and allows glucose to be transported across the cell surface to be used for energy or stored. In fat cells insulin binds to receptors and promotes fat storage.
Insulin is essential for life. We can’t survive without insulin, however problems develop when our insulin levels are excessive. When insulin levels are frequently elevated our cells become resistant to the actions of insulin and we become insulin resistant. With insulin resistance our bodies adjust to the diminished action of insulin by producing even more insulin. As our insulin levels get even higher insulin resistance worsens leading us down a path of poor health and accelerated aging. Currently at least 1 in 4 Americans are insulin resistant!
When we are insulin resistant we dramatically increase our risk of hypertension, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, inflammation, and elevated cholesterol. When we have several of these problems we are given the label of “metabolic syndrome”. Insulin resistance is the cause of metabolic syndrome.
Remember, insulin has multiple effects in the body impacting fat storage, metabolism, inflammation, cholesterol levels and blood pressure. When we are insulin resistant multiple health problems often develop.
Here is the sequence:
1) We consume high glycemic carbohydrates (bread, pasta, cookies, cake, candy, cereals, etc) and our blood glucose levels rise.
2) The high glucose levels lead to elevated insulin levels.
3) The elevated insulin levels lead to insulin resistance.
4) Insulin resistance leads to metabolic syndrome.
5) Metabolic syndrome leads to multiple health problems and accelerated aging.
When we review the above sequence, it becomes obvious that the best solution to insulin resistance is to minimize or avoid processed carbohydrates. When we eat a low glycemic diet we avoid excessive blood glucose levels and avoid the snowball effects of insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance promotes excessive inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation plays such a major role in accelerated aging that it has been called “Inflammaging”.
When we realize that a high carbohydrate diet can result in excessive glycation, insulin resistance and accelerated aging, we become motivated to change our lifestyle.
If we choose to stay on a high carbohydrate diet many of us will develop insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome. In our current medical system the main treatments for diseases associated with metabolic syndrome are prescription medications. Stay the course and you may find yourself on blood pressure medications, cholesterol medications, heart medications, diabetic medications, and anti-inflammatory medications.
In contrast, if you make the appropriate lifestyle interventions your physician may be able to lower your dosages and /or eliminate the need for the prescriptions entirely!
When we live an anti-aging lifestyle we reverse insulin resistance and slow aging. When we improve insulin sensitivity, our insulin levels lower as the efficiency of our insulin improves.
We become insulin sensitive by:
**Eating healthy protein, healthy fat, and low glycemic carbohydrates (non-starchy vegetables and fruits) at every meal.
**Exercising. (Even walking daily can help immensely.)
**Supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil, alpha lipoic acid and a high quality multivitamin/mineral formula.
**Balancing estrogen and testosterone levels in men and women with bio-identical hormone therapy.
**Stress reduction to help control cortisol, glucose and insulin levels.
When we are insulin sensitive instead of insulin resistant our health improves dramatically:
1) We burn body fat and lose weight
2) Our cholesterol levels improve, triglyceride levels decrease and HDL, our healthy cholesterol, levels increase.
3) Our blood pressure improves.
4) We lower inflammation and notice improvement in conditions such as arthritis, dermatitis, and colitis (to name a few)
5) Our energy levels, mood and exercise stamina improves.
Improve your blood glucose levels.
Improve your insulin levels.
Improve your health.