Is Insulin Good or Bad?

Many believe the only role of insulin is to lower blood sugar. In truth, this is only one of insulin’s many physiological roles in human metabolism.

With the massive increase in Type II Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome, insulin gets a pretty bad rap. So what’s the real deal? Is insulin good or bad?

WHAT IS INSULIN?

Insulin is an anabolic hormone used for growth and repair. Among the several important physiological roles is the storage of excess nutrients. Insulin is elevated anytime we consume energy substrates but it is especially elevated through the consumption of glucose, fructose and galactose.

Essentially, elevated blood sugar is a sign to our cells that we have more energy substrate available than we need in the present moment. Subsequently, insulin is released by the pancreas to take the sugar out of our blood and store it for future needs.

This was vital to us when we weren’t guaranteed a steady food supply. However, in an environment of excess caloric intake, processed foods, high carbohydrate consumption and deficient caloric expenditure, this genetic mechanism is harmful to our health and often times deadly.

EFFECTS OF SUSTAINED INSULIN 

What are the effects of sustained, elevated insulin on immunity, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, thyroid regulation, cancer, aging, inflammation, mental health, sex hormones and the stress response?

All hormones in the body release from glands in a “pulse” or “wave.” This allows our cells to remain sensitive to their effects via only receiving small quantities at a time. 

These hormones, including insulin, can be quite noxious to our cells in high or sustained quantities. So our cells are equipped to defend themselves by reducing the amount of receptors available to receive those hormones.

The Resistance

This is akin to loud or unwanted music causing you to cover your ears. Music is good to the ears but if it gets too loud or is heard at the wrong time it can be irritating. If the DJ wanted you to hear the music again they’d have to turn it up, you’d cover your ears more, they’d turn it up more, you’d cover more, etc.

Eventually, the function of your ears (CELLS) would change and the DJ (GLANDS) would become exhausted from trying to make the music (HORMONES) have the same effect.

This is essentially what happens in Type II Diabetes and Adrenal Fatigue. There are many people walking around with the symptoms of this process but who are not ACUTE enough to be diagnosed… eventually this builds into a CHRONIC degenerative condition.

THE HOW 

Virtually all of us are exposed to processed, non-fibrous, high glycemic foods on a daily basis. We know this leads to rapid increases in blood sugar and corresponding rapid increases in insulin production.

Elevated insulin on a sustained basis eventually develops into insulin receptor resistance, which leads to even higher blood sugar and blood insulin levels, and subsequently more resistance.

Sadly, this insulin receptor resistance is a major factor in all of the chronic lifestyle diseases that now represent the leading causes of death in our society.

It’s not just those individuals with Diabetes. I’m talking about EVERYONE. Virtually ALL OF US fall into this category.

No one “JUST” wakes up and has diabetes. No one “JUST” wakes up and has heart disease, or osteoporosis, or multiple sclerosis or Alzheimer’s. These conditions develop for years before a diagnosis. We are ALL susceptible.

Our genes are simply not equipped to deal with these types of foods and the sedentary living that leads to “The Resistance.”

WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT

Believe it or not, this part is actually pretty darn straight forward and the blueprint is something we’ve repeated over and over again.

1. Eat real food.

Focus on protein with every meal, quality fat consumption, fibrous carbohydrates and if you’re activity level is high to very high and you’re not currently suffering from Type II Diabetes or do not have signs of faulty blood sugar regulation, add in starchy carbohydrates to support your caloric needs.

2. Exercise vigorously.

Although walking is a wonderful first step, it’s not enough. Be sure you are incorporating a training program with appropriately scaled strength training and conditioning.

3. Sleep.

One of the most overlooked factors in the normal regulation of all hormones, including insulin, is rest.

4. Recovery.

Add in consistent recovery habits like Corrective Chiropractic, massage, and meditation that can play a positive role in normalizing the stress pathways in your body.

Problems with insulin regulation? What else have you tried that helped solve your problem?


Simple Tips to Stay Healthy on Vacation!

I’m sitting here at my favorite espresso bar in the Athens Airport eager to get this blog written and out to you! 😉 I wanted to share some travel tips I’ve been stockpiling for some time hoping maybe one or two will really hit home with you and make your life / travel easier and healthier in the future!

So here’s the quandary…

In order to live a lifestyle that keeps you moving toward health and away from sickness your actions must not only be strategically calculated to build the health you want but they must also be consistent. You know where I’m headed with this because travel is ANYTHING but calculated and consistent. With astronomically long security and customs lines, last minute gate changes, flight connections from one gate to the next leading you through miles of underground tunnels, dozens of elevators and escalators, and then… more lines, no doubt traveling could be stressful but in the end, the experience you have hopefully FAR outweighs the stress or inconvenience of any of this.

So, how do you create calculated action and consistency when you venture off to see the world and your control seems limited? This is what I do… not right or wrong just what works for me! Hopefully you’ll find some value in this too!

What I prepare:

Eat By Design

Snacks: The trick is to plan ahead. Since your travel could take many, many hours, you are looking for foods/snacks that are healthy but stable. Some of my favorites are below.

  • Long trip snacks: Paleo Scones, Grass-fed beef jerky, my favorite snack bars, Paleopuffs (my newest obsession;), Ketocafe (if you start your day with Bulletproof coffee, this is a great instant alternative).
  • Short trip snacks: fresh fruit, fresh coconut meat, cut and tupperware-stored veggies, and all the above.
  • WARNING!!! DO NOT go to the airport without having recently eaten a proper healthy meal or without one in hand to eat at the gate or on the plane.

Move By Design

Clothes… Think space saving with the biggest impact.

Minimal soled sneakers: thin, flexible, perfect for exploring a city or going for a hike (if you’re into minimal sneakers) Nearly all major shoe makers have a line.

Athleisure-type clothes that double from hard-core workout appropriate to travel and exploring appropriate.

Exercise tube/band or jumprope: versatile and space saving

Apps: Love these two!

  • Kineticoach: Designs workouts for you and allows you to enter in your limitations: Goals, Intensity, Equipment on hand, Time limitations
  • Brainwave (35 Binaural Programs): Influences brain patterns to help initiate desired moods: ie: Focused and alert, Positive Mood Boost, Deep Relaxation (Some of my best work/relaxation comes when listening to these:)

My Air-Plane 7 (Stretches) (note: I tried taking pictures for you demonstrating these but they ended up looking a little, well… awkward (ie. me squatting outside the restroom door 😉 So alternatively… descriptions are below.

#1 Quad Stretches: While standing, pull your leg from behind and stretch your quad muscle (front of upper leg muscles) then, lean back and stretch your hip flexors.

#2 Deep Squat w/ Side-to-Side Sway: Squat as far down to the ground as possible with legs a little more than shoulder width apart. From here, sway side to side feeling stretch in groin and hip rotators (outside of hip).

#3 Neck Extensions: (Dr. Rob’s obsession;) Standing/Sitting, you name it, it’s all fair game. Shoulders back and neck in full extension.

#4 Shoulder Rolls: Sit forward in your seat and roll your shoulders forward and backward through full range of motion.

#5 Standing Marches: Find the back of the plane and make friends as you march away in your own one-person parade. Bonus points if you get someone to join you;)

#6 Lift and Tucks: In your seat, lift yourself off the seat by pressing against the arm rests. In this position, tuck your pelvis slightly in and out, rotate, and laterally flex your lower back.

#7 Heel/Toe Lifts: Circulation, Circulation, Circulation. Help your heart by pumping that blood back up!

General On-board Tips:

  • Roll Blanket/sweatshirt/hoodie behind your lower back vertically to help prop you forward. Like car seats, airplane seats are usually not designed for proper spinal support.

Think By Design

Travel Journal: Brainstorm before your trip: What do you want to get out of this experience? If you were to design your absolute perfect experience, what would it look like. Make a Checklist and start checking away! I use The Things app as my life-list checker-offer! Also the Wunderlist app is great and it’s free!

Hope this will help you in the not-so distant future!

Remember the most important part of traveling (vacation travel) is to reset physically and mentally!

Happy, Healthy Travels!

– Dr. Rob


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