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Insulin Resistance

Insulin Resistance

I bet most of the population is insulin resistant and they don’t even know it. And unfortunately insulin resistance is probably at the core of every single decease. Understanding the effects of insulin is key in order to understand the effects that the standard diets have on us, not only now but especially in the long term. 

Metabolism and Insulin

Insulin resistance is a metabolic disease. This mean your metabolism is not efficient or even broken. 

Metabolism is the process of (a) breaking down food (but not only) to obtain energy and (b) the use of these compounds to rebuild tissues and cells. By saying that your metabolism is broken this means your cells don’t have the right building blocks to create energy, rebuild and heal. This is everything we need to thrive and be healthy basically. 

Insulin is at the heart of regulating your metabolism and everything around it. As all hormones, insulin can be thought of as a messenger. From the blood stream, insulin is the messenger that communicates with the cells.

Think of insulin like the key to every cell. It signals to the cells that there are nutrients and energy floating in the blood and they should open the door and collect them. When you eat carbs (and to a lesser extend protein) blood sugar levels raise so the pancreas secretes insulin to distribute to the cells the sugar and bring the blood sugar levels down. 

SUMMARY

  • Insulin is a hormone which acts as the key to every single cell and moves glucose (from carbs and protein) into the cells.
  • Insulin controls the levels of the blood sugars and tries to keep them stable.

Breaking your metabolism

As with everything in life balance is very important. And your body always tries to keep the balance. 

In this discussion our body always tries to keep the blood sugars stable throughout the day, which is crucial for having energy, focus and in the long-term to avoid diabetes, heart attacks and more. 

However you overeat carbs, especially refined sugar, and/or eat 5-6 times a day you are sending continious signals that there is energy. And the body must deal with it. Every time you eat it must raise insulin to distribute what you eat. The problem begins when your cells get tired of this constant demand. Here is what happens next

  1. Your cells can’t use this much energy so they reject it. Excess energy is stored as in your fat cells (adipose tissue). You have now broken your metabolism and put on weight
  2. Pancreas insists that the cells need to take-up the energy and it must keep the blood sugar level stable so it secretes more insulin. You now have high insulin levels in your blood.
  3. Over time, your cells will become increasingly more resistance to the insulin, resulting also in high blood sugar levels.⁠ 
  4. Eventually, your pancreas becomes damaged, leading to decreased insulin production. At this point you are diabetic (Type2)

SUMMARY

  • Insulin resistance happens when cells in your muscles, fat, and liver do not respond to insulin and can’t take up glucose from your blood. As a result, your pancreas makes more insulin to help glucose enter your cells.⠀⁠
  • Insulin resistance (IR) is a problem of excess energy which overtime leads to imbalances and evetually diabetes.

Implications and symptoms

Insulin resistance is associated with obesity, high blood pressure, hyperglycaemia, PCOS,  metabolic syndrome and fatty liver disease just to name a few. The main reasons are

  • Every cell needs energy and nutrients to function and if they are insulin resistant they deprive themselves from these. This is the first in a mal-functioning body.
  • Increase in inflammation : Fat cells also become insulin resistance when they cant grow any more and they start spilling fat back to blood stream and release cytokines which are inflammatory 

The different stages of insulin resistance will also manifest with various symptoms like the below

  1. At the start you have cravings: When insulin cannot bring glucose into the cell, the cells become starved. Starving cells will crave sugar and carbohydrates as it’s your body’s preferred energy source (in a high carb diet). ⁠
  2. Weight gain: Insulin promotes fat storage, so the more insulin hanging around the more fat storage.⁠ At the same token it will be impossible to lose weight.
  3. Slow metabolism: Insulin resistance creates an inability of your body to properly convert the food that you eat into energy to fuel your cells.⁠⠀
  4. Mood disturbances such as anxiety, panic attacks, depression & insomnia ⁠⠀⁠
  5. Messed-up lipid profile: Insulin lowers HDL and raises triglycerides. Low HDL and high Triglycerides are an indication. 

  6. Hormonal issues: Insulin causes hormonal issues that can lead to infertility, acne, decreased testosterone, & facial hair ⁠⠀

  7. And the end you have premature aging and decease : High insulin resistance means higher levels of insulin, and this predisposes for diabetes, heart disease cancer and many aging dis-functions.

What can you do

Insulin resistance is essentially a symptom of the moder way of living. Too much food and too less movement. But is can be fixed. We have seen that over and over again and it is well researched.

But of all check if you are insulin resistant and create a baseline. These are my recommendations but please consult with your doctor.

  1. Fasting Insulin should be around 5mIU/L 
  2. After 2-hours of doing a glucose tolerance test  your blood sugar should be below 120 mg/dL. This test can be done at home.
  3. The HLD to Triglycerides ratio is >1
  4. HOMA-IR should be below 2.6
  5. BMI is within range for your gender and age.

If any of the above is a negative you have some sort of insulin resistance. What can you do you ask? Let’s see

  1. Start a low-carb, ketogenic lifestyle : Reduce refined carbs like white sugar, cookies, cakes, white breads and anything that is is not whole food. Consume plenty of vegetables.
  2. If you are insulin resistant, your body won’t be able to handle any amounts of carbs, so at the start you will need to reduce also fruits (sweet and non-sweet). You can re-introduce them later though! Check out the Nutrition Series 2 for more information.
  3. Reduce all vegatable oils. The topic here is quite complicated but processed oils (Linoleic Acid) contribute to insulin resistance but sending the wrong singals to our fat cells. 
  4. Start intermittent fasting: Restricting your eating window (e.g in a 10-hour window) is quite easy and has great benefits to give your body a rest.
  5. Start moving around: Move or exercise on a daily basis. Find something you like and stick to it. Walking, swimming, zumba are all great options and will give the right signals to our cells. Personally I prefer resistance training, strength training and yoga as a healthy muscle mass helps with insulin sensitivity.
  6. Sleep: Sleeping 7-9 hours a night. Good quality sleep is essential to keep hunger hormones in check and thus insulin.⁠
  7. Stress: Reducing stress is a must. Stress hormones such as cortisol increase blood sugar, amplify appetite and cause weight gain all which promote insulin resistance.⁠

     

Preventing insulin resistance may be one of the most powerful ways to live a longer, healthier life.⁠⠀⁠⠀

⁠⠀⁠⠀⁠⠀

Key Takeaways

  • Insulin resistance is a metabolic decease of too much insulin driven by excess carbs, overeating or eating too frequently.
  • Insulin resistance is in the background of gaining weight, cravings, mood issues and many more.
  • Starting keto and intermittent fasting will greatly help, but you need to take a holistic view at your life. Prioritise yourself and your well-being.

Further Reading




High cholesterol on a ketogenic diet

High cholesterol on a ketogenic diet

The below video from Dr. Paul Mason explains what it means to have High Cholesterol when doing a Keto lifestyle

Source: Youtube – Dr. Paul Mason – High Cholestrol on a Ketogenic DIet

Should you be concerned with your cholesterol levels? In very simple terms, no. The myth of having high levels of cholesterol and LDL increases the risk of cardiovascular decease is now debanked. Cholesterols is one of the key foundational compounds for many critical function such as creating many of our hormones.

Of-course it is important to consider your lifestyle choices. Having a high LDL when following a high-carb diet this can be an area of concern that needs to be addressed as the LDL is likely to be oxidized. 

Key Takeaways

  • Don’t be afraid of cholesterol !
  • Check your lipids in a detailed lipid blood panel to determine the oxidation levels of LDL



What are Ketones

What should your Ketone levels be?

When starting a keto diet, pretty much everyone gets focused on their ketone levels. It makes sense. 

They are concrete measurements of progress and most of us are goal oriented. But we can’t tell you how many people we’ve spoken to who wanted to give up because they weren’t where they thought they “should be” early on. So, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Instead, let’s explore levels of ketosis with an eye on learning what they are and what they mean, so you can understand what optimal levels are based on your goals. 

The basics

The body has two primary metabolic fuels–fat and glucose. Which fuel you use is affected by a few variables, but the strongest variable is the hormone insulin. When insulin is elevated, glucose is the primary fuel. When insulin is reduced, fat is the primary fuel. 

Understanding metabolic fuel use is essential to understanding ketones. When we have constantly high levels of insulin, a condition called insulin resistance, then we are not able to burn our fat for fuel.

Summary

This is important since ketones are only produced when the body is in a state of fat burning. This is because ketones are actually just pieces of “burned” fat.

How are ketones produced

Normally, when fat is burned, it is broken up all the way in CO2(carbon dioxide). Of course, this CO2 is simply exhaled. But CO2 is only produced when fat is burned all the way and fully used to create energy for the cell.

 

When insulin is low for an extended period of time, up to about 20 hours or so, the cells of the body, especially the liver cells in this case, can’t stop burning fat. Essentially, the cells are burning more fat than they need! Normally, a cell is only burning enough fuel to meet its needs. However, when insulin is low for a long period, the cell simply can’t stop burning fat, even after it’s met its energy needs. This is where ketones come in.

 

Ketones are produced from a fat-burning cell when the cell has both met all its metabolic needs and also can’t stop burning fat. But why produce ketones from this excess? One reason is that ketones are great fuel for cells that don’t burn fat, most especially neurons and other cells in the brain. By far, the brain is the largest consumer of ketones and begins greedily gobbling them up the moment they appear in the blood. 

 

Also, ketones are a great way to remove excess energy. Remember, ketones are produced when a cell is burning excess fat, so it’s little surprise that ketones help with removing some of this excess. An oft-overlooked aspect of ketones is that they are caloric molecules. We always talk about the calories of fat or glucose, but ketones also have a caloric value that is very close to the caloric value of glucose. When ketones start to rise in the blood, as noted, they can be used for energy, but what isn’t used for energy is simply removed from the body. 

 

First, the excess ketones (i.e., excess energy) is exhaled, just like the CO2 is. This is why people will note the unique smell on the breath of people who have been fasting or strictly adhering to a ketogenic diet. That smell is actually the ketones being blown out of the body.

 

Second, ketones are removed through the kidneys into the urine. This is why ketone urine strips are so often used to determine the amount of ketones in the body. But again–this is simply another avenue for removing ketones (i.e. excess energy) from the body. 

 

In the end, an accurate view of ketones is that they’re a strong signal of fat burning–if you have ketones in your blood (or breath or urine!), you know you’re in fat-burning mode. Whether you get there through fasting or a low-carbohydrate diet, once insulin is low, fat burning starts and ketones are increased!

Understanding Ketone Levels

It is widely accepted that nutritional ketosis begins at concentration levels of 0.5 mmol/L. That means that the minute you cross that 0.5 threshold, you’re “in ketosis.” From there, nutritional ketosis is considered around 1.0 mmol/L, then becomes “optimal” 1.0 mmol/L through 3.0 mmol/L range. As long as you are burning fat any level is great indication of metabolic flexibility.

Summary

You are considered to be in ketosis when your ketone levels are above 0.5mmol/L.

What Should Your Ketone Level Be?

If your primary goal for integrating the ketogenic diet into your life is weight loss, achieving “light nutritional ketosis,” or 0.5 mmol/L-1.0 mmol/L, is a good starting point. From there, aim for “optimal ketosis,” which is when your ketone levels are between 1.0 mmol/L-3.0 mmol/L. 

People looking to use the ketogenic diet for therapeutic benefits for medical conditions such as epilepsy, cancer, or endocrine and metabolic disorders, are generally directed to aim for much higher ketone levels—specifically in the 3.0 mmol/L -5.0 mmol/L range, or somewhere in between. People who are fasting or eat a much higher fat-to-protein ratio will look to levels in the 3.0 mmol/L-8.0 mmol/L range. But you don’t need to go there. The optimal ketosis range is called “optimal” for a reason, and it’s exactly where you’ll want be for weight-loss and general health purposes, and you’ll get there, in time, if you practice patience and get in the groove of eating a keto diet.

Ketones & Exercise

Does exercise affect ketone levels? Yes, but the effects differ from one person to the next. Still, generally speaking, anaerobic exercise (usually short duration and high intensity, like heavy weight training, sprinting, or jumping) will decrease circulating ketones, cause blood glucose to go up slightly, and cause ketones to temporarily go down. With aerobic exercise, such as swimming, walking, jogging, and cycling, you’ll generally notice an increase in circulating ketones. Does this mean you do not want to do anaerobic exercise while on a ketogenic diet? Absolutely not! Watching your ketone levels will help you understand how your body responds to various foods and activities, and knowing how your body responds will help you adjust your nutrition and food choices to properly fuel your body and maintain optimal ketone levels.

A Word of Warning

No matter the goal, no one should aim for the orange or red zones. They’re nearly impossible to achieve anyway and don’t increase the diet’s benefits. 

The only people who should be concerned about approaching them are type 1 diabetics, because they face the potential of producing a diabetic complication called ketoacidosis, a serious condition that requires urgent medical attention. For them, the reward may not be worth the risk, which is why we recommend people with type 1 diabetes develop a diet plan with their care provider.

Final Thoughts

  • The levels of ketones produced by each person are very individualised and will vary from person to person depending on the exact macros the level of adaptation, and how many years you are doing keto for. 
  • Monitoring your ketones at the start can be a very good indicator of your fat adaptation so we suggest measuring your ketones on a daily basis.
  • Ketones are a great tool to help you evaluate and adjust your eating habits as you follow your keto journey. Keep refining your choices as you go and you’ll reach your optimal levels and enjoy a healthy way of life.

Further Reading

 





Sugar hurts your Vitamin Status

Sugar hurts your Vitamin Status!

Most people are aware that eating too much sugar can cause high blood glucose, insulin spikes and obesity. It can also elevate the risk of chronic decease, diabetes and cancer. 

What most people don’t know however, is that excess glucose can also lead to nutrient deficiencies that impact the levels of vitamins and minerals that are able to reach the cells. Sugar does this by depleting and reducing the absorption of key vitamins and minerals, which can lead to nutrient deficiencies. 

The following vitamins and minerals are the most at risk for depletion from the presence of too much glucose in the body. 

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is in jeopardy due to sugar. Humans are among a small group of mammals unable to synthesize VITAMIN C on our own. Additionally, both vitamin C and glucose use the same transporters, and high glucose levels can slow and limit vitamin C absorption in the body. There is literally a competition between glucose and vitamin C in the bloodstream. When adequate vitamin C cannot reach the cells, the result is reduced immune functioning and suppressed tissue regeneration. 

Magnesium

Magnesium gets depleted by eating too much sugar Magnesium is required by just about every organ in the body. It regulates nerve and muscle functioning, helps create protein, synthesizes DNA, builds bone, and regulates blood sugar levels. High blood sugar and elevated insulin increases magnesium excretion by the kidneys and causes the body to use up its reserves. The fact that magnesium is required for effective blood sugar regulation means that the presence of sugar is doubly harmful to retention of this important mineral.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiencies increase with sugar consumption While Vitamin D deficieny is most common in geographic areas with the least amount of sunshine, sugar can exacerbate the problem. It does so by increasing the presence of an enzyme that helps synthesize it. Low levels of vitamin D have been linked with inflammation, greater risk of infection, autoimmunity, dementia and certain cancers. 

Calcium

Calcium uptake is inhibited by eating sugar. Calcium is essential to bone health, blood coagulation and assisting in nerve and muscle contraction. Since vitamin D is required for calcium absorption, sugar indirectly suppresses the body’s intake of this essential mineral. Glucose, a form of sugar, is also linked with the increase of the kidneys’ calcium excretion through hormone suppression and inhibiting calcium reabsorption. 

Chromium

Chromium drained by sugar Chromium is a trace mineral involved in both blood sugar control and macronutrient metabolism. While just small amounts are required by the body, an excess of sugar can cause a deficiency by triggering its excretion. Chromium deficiency can then contribute to higher blood sugar levels and poor glucose tolerance, as it is important to insulin binding. 

Key Takeaways

  • Most people are already aware of the numerous health hazards of eating too much sugar. However, its role in nutrient deficiencies and the suppression of key vitamins and minerals in the body may not be as familiar. 
  • Avoid all refined sugars.
  • Read the labels to understand how much sugar is in the products you are buying. Remember all carbs turn into sugar.
  • Try whole foods which have plenty of fiber.

Further Reading

  • http://jn.nutrition.org/content/130/1/63.full 
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/5444345 
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2253826 
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9853533



Processed Food

Why is Processed Food not healthy

The human kind has made remarkable advances in the last couple of centuries. We have been able to make our lifes easier in so many ways. When it comes to food most people have more than their ancestors ever imagined and we can get a pretty decent meal with the click of a button, or by opening our cupboard and choosing from a range of products like meat with various sauces, canned soups of any choice and a lot more. But at what cost does this come?

What is processed food

Any food that is not fresh and has been tampered with preservatives to extend its life on the shelf of a super-market or to enhance it’s taste is processed. Additionally, anything that comes in a package, a bottle, or a can is in most cases processed. 

Make a habit of always checking the label of ingredients. If there are more than 2-3 ingredients consider it processed.

Why is processed food harmful

While whole foods are usually fresh, in a raw, unaltered state, processed food have gone through some type of manufacturing process, stripping them from valuable nutrients and replacing them with ingredients which extend their shelf life. Typically most packaged or canned food go through a high heating process, which kills all nutrients and enzymes found in the raw state. The final product will contain very little, if any, of the benefits of the whole food. Instead the ingredients included to give flavour and texture increase the risk for various health issues and diseases.

Most of the processed foods contain preservatives such as

  • Trans Fats

Trans Fats should be avoided at all costs. They are created when hydrogen is added to oil. Most vegetable oils like canola, corn etc. contain some amount of trans fats. Margarine as well. Most fast-food use cheap quality oils to deep fry foods so you should avoid fried chips, chicken nuggets and any such food.

  • Sodium Nitrite

Sodium nitrite is typically found in processed meat like salami, ham, sausages etc. Sodium nitrate has been linked to cancer and other health issues. Nitrite is an easy way to give a pink shade to processed meats. Nitrite reacts with the meat myoglobin to cause colour changes, first converting to nitrosomyoglobin (bright red), then, on heating, to nitrosohemochrome (a pink pigment). 

In the meat-packing industry, nitrite is used to prevent botulism. Historically, salt has been used for the preservation of meat. The salt-preserved meat product was usually brownish-grey in colour. When sodium nitrite is added with the salt, the meat develops a red, then pink colour, which is associated with cured meats.

Through research in the early 1900s, sodium nitrite has been found to give taste and colour to the meat and extended storage life.

  • Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

MSG is created from a chemical called glutamate. It enhances the flavour of savoury dishes (e.g. Chinese food and fast food). There have been many reports of people having reactions such as headaches, flushing, sweating, numbness, heart palpitations, nausea and more.

  • Food colouring

Most food have some percentage of colouring and should of-course be avoided.

  • High Fructose Corn Syrup

The king of additives. A very cheap flavour enhancing compound which is added to most packaged food to provide the sweet taste consumers want. It is hidden in so many foods and adds to the daily sugar intake without people being aware.

  • Aspartame

Another sweetener found in many sodas, chewing gums and more. It is 200 times more sweet that normal sugar! Stay away from it!

 

Other additives are Sodium Benzoate, BHA and BHT, Sulfur Dioxide, Propylparaben.

All the above have been linked with various heath issues such as obesity, diabetes and also to several cancer types. This is because processed food

  1. Contains too much sugar!
  2. Contains too much fat!
  3. Makes you crave more junk food!
  4. Has very low nutritional value!

Key Takeaways

The take away is simple.

  • Stay away from all processed food. That includes fast-food, packaged food, canned food.
  • Empty your cupboard and fridge from any product that has any ingredient that is not natural.
  • Choose fresh, local and seasonal food over processed food.