Saturday, August 12, 2006

Insulin is your friend

Lock up the women and Hide the children, the boy has lost his mind. He is using the "I" word, and he thinks its our friend. Go get the Holy fat of Atkins and douse him good. Every LCer knows that insulin is evil.
WELL, no, insulin is not evil, and it really is our friend. Despite all the rhetoric on the LC boards and blogs, with out insulin we would die. If our body stopped making insulin we would have to inject it into our system, thats called Type 1 diabetes. The problem is that most people have a fundamental misunderstanding of the role insulin plays in our metabolism. The scary story that usually surrounds insulin goes something like this- we eat carbs, insulin is realeased, bad things happen. The problem here is that insulin is not the problem. One of the primary functions of insulin is to lower our blood sugar, which is a good thing. Glucose doesn't belong in our blood, it belongs in our cells were it can be used in a things called glycolysis and the Krebbs cycle to create energy for our cells to do their cell work. The problem we run into is when we keep stuffing our pie hole long after we've met our energy needs. When we repeatedly over eat, the cells that take up the glucose become immune, or resistant, to the effects of insulin.
So then how do we make the receptors more sensitive to insulin? Excellent question, I'm so glad you asked. Calorie restriction and exercise are the two most effective ways of increasing insulin sensitivity, short of medication. For example, Cutting carbs combined with full body strength training routines. Eliminating carbs btw, will not eliminate your need for insulin. Protien digestion, also stimulates insulin secretion. One of insulins other functions is to stimulate protien synthesis. Which if you strength train, helps to restore any muscle mass that may have been lost from disuse and aging. Fat is the only macronutrient not to stimulate insulin. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want to eat a meal of just fat. Besides, you must eat protein. Protein is used up everyday in normal metabolism as part of tissue repair and immune functions, among other things.

So how did insulin get such a bad name? Well in short, insulin stops you from burning fat for energy, and promotes fat storage. So yes, it does have a downside. The trick here is to manage the amount of insulin you secrete, and to increase your sensitivity to the insulin you do secrete. Over time if you increase your sensitivity to insulin, your body will produce less insulin to do the job we need it to do.

[NOTE to the Science Nerds out there: I know that each glucose becomes 2 pyruvate prior to entering the krebbs cycle, so save it]


megadittles said...

Right on! Great blog. With a family of type I & II diabetics I'm just glad my insulin decides to work at all. Too bad it just decides to go super crazy. Week 2 into LC and I'm feeling good. Wish I could say the same for my allergies today. They are killer.

Scott said...

As a person with type 1 (immune-mediated) diabetes, which results from an absolute deficiency of insulin for the past 30 years, I can say that as a treatment therapeutic, insulin sucks. The issue is that it is not replaced in a physiological manner and there is no way to account for the presence of other hormones which compete for the cell receptors. In the words of Dr. Allen M. Spiegel, M.D. former Director National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease, National Institutes of Health:

"Insulin therapy, via daily injections or a pump, is a poor substitute for the body's exquisitely precise regulation of blood glucose by insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells."

K. Dill said...

Yup there is no subsitute for the real thing when it comes to insulin. I am aware of several things in the works that may hold some promise for type 1 diabetics, as there are a lot of people who are in need of a permanent cure. Best wishes.