Insulin Resistance is our nation’s biggest public health problem and will potentially get much worse in our future. Insulin Resistance (IR) is defined by Dr. Greenwald of Specialty Health in Reno NV as “When humans become insulin resistant, the glucose receptors of our liver and muscle cells get clogged. Insulin has a difficult time allowing glucose to get into the cell. Glucose stays in the blood stream and blood glucose levels increase and so does the blood insulin levels as the pancreas keeps pumping more and more insulin to try to keep blood sugar (glucose) levels under control.”
Why is IR our biggest public health problem?
Insulin Resistance leads to many deadly ailments such as Heart Attack, Alzheimer’s Dementia, Cancer, Kidney Disease, Stroke, Gout, Obesity, and Diabetes to name the most serious illnesses. Obesity and Diabetes alone will continue progressing and cause lower back pain, joint pain, amputation, blindness, and slow healing wounds.
This is not just a military, law enforcement, or fire fighter problem – it is a national problem and the reasons of this epidemic is a combination in our nutrition — addiction to sugar, simple carbohydrates, high fructose corn syrup, breads, pastas, and other enriched grains. Our lack of fitness or active life styles is also killing us. Stress and poor sleep and now rotating to create a vicious circle that is difficult to reverse without a conscious DAILY EFFORT and life style change.
Four Step Solution:
Fitness – Basically, you have to get moving more and burning some calories. Walking, biking, calisthenics or some form of resistance training. Adding fitness can start as easily as walking 10–15 minutes after every meal or actually going to a fitness center and doing a 15–20 minute circuit followed by a light cardio workout. See ideas at Circuit Training and Cardio and Resistance Training.
Nutrition Recommendations – Too many try to starve themselves only to find themselves quickly losing and gaining even more weight back within months. Also, if you are restricting calories you very well could be neglecting your health and missing out on essential nutrients. All calories are NOT the same and your body will process them differently. Your body processes carbohydrates differently than it does with fat and protein. You have to be more detail oriented with your food planning and focus on limiting / eliminating simple carbohydrates (sugars, breads, grains) from your diet and focus on lean meats, complex carbohydrates, and limit the fats to only the good fats (mono– and poly-unsaturated fats). Remember – NOT ALL CALORIES ARE EQUAL.
The food plan that will be most beneficial for your issues is a low carb diet - not a NO-carb diet. There are many diets out there, but according to Dr. Greenwald the latest clinical trials suggest that America would benefit greatly from limiting sugars, refined grains, and starchy vegetables. This is the poison that is making us fat. Dr. Greenwald and his team prefer a Paleo / Low Carbohydrate approach. He states, “Paleo nutrition is very solid. The addition of an exercise and sleep program makes it just perfect for our nation’s military and first responders. Insulin Resistance, Type 2 Diabetes, and the obesity epidemics that are plaguing our country CAN be reversed. With 30–35% of our first responders being insulin resistant, we have an incredible opportunity to make a huge paradigm shift. We can avoid so much human misery.”
Some suggested reading for diet ideas, recipes, and background on the problems with the typical modern American diet can be found in the following book:
The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf
Stress – Relax and breathe DEEP. Every time in your day when you feel stressed / anxious – stop and take five deep breaths. Breathing is one of the most basic and natural methods to help you reduce stress. In fact, all the same treatments to relieve Insulin Resistance will help you reduce stress: Nutrition, Fitness, and Sleep. Reducing stress in our lives is a tough prescription to follow because stress is everywhere – at home, work, on the way to work, EVERYWHERE. It is how you deal with stress is the key. Reducing caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol will help you nutritionally deal with stress but so will eating natural foods high in protein and amino acids. See De-stressing Ideas for more tips.
Sleep Helps with Both Stress and Fitness Recovery: Black out your room. No LED lights from alarm clocks, fire alarms, TV’s etc. Do not watch TV or check email for at least 1 hour before bed. Go to bed early, get 8– 9 hrs of sleep OPTIMALLY. You should wake up without an alarm, feeling refreshed. This will help you in SO many areas of your life. It is our natural recovery / stress reducing tool.
Also, the best training plans will not work if sleep and nutrition are neglected. Without adequate sleep there is not enough rest for muscle cell growth and repair. In fact, when you sleep, growth hormone is produced and protein synthesis in the muscles occurs if you eat foods with protein during the day. For adolescents especially, sleep is critical as growth can be impaired when quality and quantity of sleep is lacking. Lack of sleep can also affect your mood and increase hormonal stress levels which will have a negative impact on performance.
As you can see the effects of nutrition, fitness, sleep, and stress mitigation is critical to how you not only perform physically, but it is THE roadmap to creating a lifestyle change to help prevent the horrible degenerative diseases associated with Insulin Resistance. To see if you are insulin resistant, take your current Triglycerides and divide by your HDL number. If that number is great than 3.5 – you are insulin resistant. Find out more on Health Screening scores.
If you have several of these symptoms, take a good look at your daily schedule and find out what is out of balance. This game of stress is a delicate balance of hormonal responses from the speed up and slow down sides of our autonomic nervous system. Even though they are automatic responses to life that are difficult to control, we can control how we deal with stress with some serious thought and action.