Welcome back to More Than Healthy as we continue to share our weekly health tips. Today we’re talking about Tip #87, the health benefits of managing your insulin levels. Watch the Weekly Video Tip by clicking this link.
Carla studied a lot about insulin in her functional nutrition schooling because it’s such a big issue for many people. We have a lot of clients that deal with type 2 diabetes, and managing their insulin is critical to how they feel on a daily basis.
What is insulin?
You might not realize that insulin is a hormone, which is comprised of molecules that deliver messages to cells. The pancreas makes insulin and helps glucose in your blood enter cells in your muscle, fat, and liver, where it’s used for energy.
Glucose comes from the foods you eat. The liver also makes glucose (also called blood sugar) in times of need, such as when you’re fasting.
When blood glucose levels rise after you eat, your pancreas releases insulin into the blood. Insulin then lowers your blood sugar to keep it in the normal range. Managing your insulin levels helps curb hunger and helps your body produce energy.
What is prediabetes?
I started learning about this several years ago when I started working with a functional doctor who said my A1C was too high. An A1C is a blood test that measures your average blood sugar levels over the past three months. At the time, mine was 5.9, and he said I was at risk for prediabetes. Prediabetes means your blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes.
This really frightened me. I’ve known many people with prediabetes and didn’t want to be one of them. Even though I had cut out a lot of sugar from my diet, he wanted me to cut it all out, along with all forms of gluten. The doctor explained that all the bread, pasta, and processed foods I was eating were turning directly to sugar, and I was overwhelming my pancreas to produce way too much insulin to keep up with it.
My high score (his goal was for me to get to 5.0) was proof that I was probably experiencing some insulin resistance, or my beta cells in the pancreas weren’t making enough insulin to keep the blood glucose in the normal range. Either way, I believed him and decided to try managing my insulin levels better by cutting out all sugars and gluten to see if I could bring that number down.
What is insulin resistance?
Insulin resistance is when cells in your muscles, fat, and liver don’t respond well to insulin and can’t easily take up glucose from your blood. As a result, your pancreas makes more insulin to help glucose enter your cells. The effect is even greater storage of fat in the liver and even greater insulin resistance.
It’s a vicious cycle where your pancreas keeps making more insulin until it can’t keep up. Many of our clients who are struggling with excess weight are dealing with an imbalance in their insulin, which is why we wanted to talk about this today.
If you’d like to learn more about this important aspect of health, I highly recommend the book The Obesity Code by Jason Fung. He does a great job explaining how insulin can be the reason so many people are obese.
How do you keep your insulin levels healthy?
So how can you keep your insulin levels healthy and avoid conditions like prediabetes? This is especially important if you’re struggling with your weight. If you’ve followed us here at More Than Healthy, you know that we don’t focus on weight loss. But weight loss seems to be a side benefit for all of our clients when they improve their health.
Balancing the hormone insulin is no exception. When you learn to manage your insulin, you will feel better and experience weight loss. I first had to eliminate my sugar intake (including all processed foods and bad carbs). I know that may sound difficult, but if you do it for a few weeks, you will actually stop craving the sugars. And the reward is much of your pain will go away if you struggle with inflammation.
It was many years before I understood the signs of an inflamed body, but when I started removing the sugars and bad carbs from my diet, I couldn’t believe how much my pain decreased and how much better I felt. We’ve talked a lot about this – to read more about it, check out some of our previous posts here, here, and here.
What is the best food to balance insulin?
We’ve learned that the best way to balance insulin is through avoiding processed foods and eating good sources of healthy, whole foods. Good protein like grass-fed beef, pasture-raised chicken and eggs, wild-caught fish, and seafood comprise 30-40 % of our diet. Check out our posts for additional info, including this post on healthy proteins here.
Make sure you consume healthy fats. We eat a lot of virgin olive oil, organic coconut oil, avocado oil, pasture-raised butter, avocados, and homemade yogurt made from full-fat half and half. (Refer to our posts on these topics here and here.)
Don’t forget to increase your consumption of fiber and vinegar. We’ve discussed the importance of fermented and high-fiber foods to a healthy diet – read that post here. Your digestive system will function so much better if you do.
The awesome thing is that if you are eating a diet filled with healthy proteins, fats, and fiber, it won’t just improve your blood sugar. Our clients typically experience less bloating, gas, heartburn, constipation, and diarrhea when they make these changes. And they all say they feel so much better overall!
Does intermittent fasting help with insulin resistance?
In his book mentioned above, Dr. Jason Fung also advises a fasting protocol to add to your health regimen. We couldn’t agree more. Carla and I regularly use intermittent fasting as a way to help manage our insulin. We did a whole post on that in Tip #12, and it has some great information on the health benefits of intermittent fasting.
Dr. Fung even suggests that if you want to break insulin resistance and lose weight, you can fast for 24-36 hours at a time. We always tell our clients to consult their doctor before going beyond 24 hours of fasting, even though we have found it very effective in reducing my blood sugar.
I just had my latest blood test and am excited to report that my AC1 is down to 5.2. My goal is still 5.0, but I’m excited that I’m no longer at risk for prediabetes, and I feel better than ever.
Can hair analysis help with managing your insulin levels?
With just a few strands of your hair, you receive a full report looking at toxins, nutrients, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, electromagnetic frequency exposure, chemicals, radiation, parasites, immune factors, and foods you should avoid. It also includes a 15-minute consultation with Carla to review the results where she will recommend 3 or 4 things you can do to help improve your health.
Go to our website to learn more. You can schedule a local hair analysis or order it online to be mailed to you today.
We always enjoy hearing from you. If you have any questions, find us @morethanhealthyliving on social media. We try to respond to all questions.
We’d love to become your health coaches as you work to become “more than healthy” and achieve optimal health. Thanks for joining us, and we’ll see you next week.
Note: Remember, we’re not doctors. We’re sharing with you what’s worked for us on our health journey. You will want to consult your doctor before significantly changing your diet and supplementation.