Reversing insulin resistance and diabetes is possible. In this episode I share what worked for me. I also discuss the most important factors that can help improve insulin sensitivity and the science behind why diet and lifestyle is the key to better metabolic health.
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Episode 13 Transcript
Brigitte Factor 0:13 Hello and welcome to the hungry for truth podcast i'm your host Brigitte Factor with truth seeker researcher scientists nutritionist teacher in truth teller and awakening is coming get ready for it
Brigitte Factor 0:47 Hello and welcome back to another episode of the hungry for truth podcast last week i talked about the dangers of excess sugar consumption and how most americans are getting too much sugar and what that can lead to. I also shared some of my personal struggles with blood sugar issues. So this week i wanted to talk about what we can do about it and share ways that we can reverse insulin resistance once it's started to develop. First, I want to review what insulin resistance is in case you didn't listen to last week's episode or you would like a refresh on that. So insulin resistance is when our cells become resistant to the signal of insulin. It's basically when insulin doesn't work anymore. And there are different views as to how this gets started and I shared some of the different views last time. But I have a really cool illustration or story that I can share that may help make sense of what insulin resistance is. and I call this my cookie story. So let's say you're living in a neighborhood and you have a new neighbor move in. And this new neighbor decides to bake some cookies and bring them over to introduce themselves. And they ring the doorbell and you go open the door and there's your new neighbor with a plate full of cookies. And you begin talking and sharing and the neighbor hand you the cookies and you're grateful for the cookies and you bring them into your house. So let's say the neighbor is insulin and insulin is ringing the doorbell to your cells. Your cells open the door and bring in the cookies, are bringing in the glucose. So insulin's job is to take glucose out of the bloodstream and put it into the cell and insulin is the key that opens that door. Now let's say that the next day the neighbor makes another batch of cookies comes over rings the doorbell. You open the door and you're grateful to see your neighbor again you exchange a few words you thank them for the cookies and you bring the cookies inside. You think it's a little odd that they're bringing cookies over again but they must be really nice neighbors. And then the next day the neighbor makes another batch of cookies brings them over rings the doorbell. You answer the door and you're a little surprised to see the neighbor bringing over cookies again but you exchange a few pleasant words, thank them for the cookies, and bring the cookies inside, and try to think of different ways that you can get rid of the cookies because now you have too many cookies. And then the next day the neighbor makes another batch of cookies, brings them over, rings the doorbell. This time you are not answering the door and you're very quiet, you're very still, and you duck down in hopes that the neighbor doesn't know that you're home. This is you not responding to open the door just like our cells stop responding to opening the door or responding to insulin signal to let glucose in. Because they're, full they're tired of the cookies, they're tired and they don't need any more glucose. So this is an illustration of how some researchers think insulin resistance develops. It's where the signal doesn't work anymore or the cells just stop responding or they become deaf to the signal.
Brigitte Factor 5:05 And insulin resistance takes time to develop. And once it develops, it can lead to something called metabolic syndrome. Now, metabolic syndrome is a classification of symptoms that include high blood sugars, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, low HDL and a large waistline. And if three of these symptoms are present, then it's classified as metabolic syndrome. And metabolic syndrome puts you at a greater risk of heart attack, stroke and diabetes. So not fun, not something that we want. And unfortunately, 80% of Americans are metabolically unhealthy, meaning they are on their way to having metabolic syndrome, or they have metabolic syndrome. And this all comes back to diet and lifestyle. Because we are not designed to subsist on an ultra-processed standard American diet. So how do we go about changing this? Once we become aware, there are things that we can do to reverse this. So my diabetes diagnosis was a wake-up call to figure this out. And this is how I discovered the importance of good nutrition and exercise. Yeah, yeah, you may be thinking here we go with the diet and exercise thing again. And yes, these two are important. And it's not as simple and straightforward as it sounds. It's not as simple as eating less and moving more, there's a little more to it. This mantra came about when we believed having diabetes was caused by excess weight. But now we see people have normal weight, developing blood sugar issues. So that's not the primary driver of it. Now, excess weight can contribute to insulin resistance. But it's not the driving factor. It's kind of like which came first the chicken or the egg? Did the insulin resistance come first? Or the excess weight come first? And Dr. Ludwig, a Harvard endocrinologist does a great job explaining this issue in his 2014 JAMA article or Journal of the American Medical Association. And he is describing is increasing adiposity the consequence or cause of overeating? He's asking this question. So I'll post a link to that article if you wish to read more about it.
Brigitte Factor 7:53 But let's take a step back a minute and talk about the practical things that we can do to reverse this trend for ourselves, and our family, and future generations. Now, I had to discover on my own that following a lower-carb diet was my ticket out of diabetes land. However, 15 years ago, this was not the standard of practice for conventional dietetics, which is one of the few reasons I didn't want to become an RD. Because the conventional dietary guidelines weren't helping me at the time. Now the tides are changing. And the American Diabetes Association has finally acknowledged within the past couple of years that a lower carb approach can help with blood sugar management. But this information wasn't widely used at the time. And so I had to go digging and figure it out for myself. So here's why this works. If you're not eating a bunch of sugar, or carbs that break down into sugar, then your blood sugar isn't going to increase and put a demand on your insulin production. A less rapid rise in blood sugar means less insulin is needed. And so what do I mean by a low-carb diet? Well, I don't mean don't eat any carbs. It just means eating an appropriate amount of carbohydrate for your system because everybody is different. For me, lowering my carbohydrate intake to less than 40% of my total calories was enough for me to reverse the damage that had started. For others, it may mean dropping down to 20%. Part of why my approach worked was at the time I was also crossfitting. So the diet and exercise combination definitely greatly improved my health and my insulin sensitivity. They both played a role in transforming my health. And so I'm going to touch more on the exercise piece in just a bit. But right now I want to touch on this idea that there is There's no one size fits all approach that we all are different in how we respond to different foods. And an excellent example of this was an article that looked at blood sugar responses in people eating the same foods, but had different blood glucose levels in response to those foods. And it was based on the types of bacteria that were in their gut, it's quite fascinating. And I'll post a link to that article. But what they found is that people with different levels of different types of gut bacteria can have completely individual responses to the same types of food in their blood sugar response. Really comes down to knowing what is going to work for you. And the only way to know that is trial and error and to test things out. And this is where working with a trained practitioner or nutritionist can help give you some guidance on that.
Brigitte Factor 11:05 Ultimately, the first step is to begin eating nutrient-dense whole foods diet and minimize or eliminate the amount of processed foods in the diet. Other dietary factors that have been shown to play a significant role in reversing insulin resistance is increasing protein intake and increasing dietary fiber intake. And this obviously, if you're increasing protein and fiber, then you're decreasing those easily digestible carbs as well. So there's a two-fold approach to that. Eating a lower glycemic diet has been shown to help as well and a lower glycemic diet just refers to how quickly your blood sugar is increased based on a particular type of food. And again, the foods that are going to be lower glycemic are going to be your unprocessed whole foods. So when you put all of these parameters together, you have the makings of a nutrient-dense whole foods diet that is mostly vegetables and meat. Sounds like a fad diet that we've been eating for a millennia. That's a little humor there. I joke it that because the Paleo diet was the dietary approach that transformed my health the most, and really sparked a new career for me.
Brigitte Factor 12:33 But so did exercise, so did crossfitting. And so exercise is another great way to reverse insulin resistance. And again, the reason this is is because our muscles burn stored glucose for energy, and part of the problem with insulin resistance is that we have too much stored glucose on board. So any type of regular movement can improve insulin sensitivity, whether it's cardio, resistance training, or high intensity interval training. On the flip side, inactivity or not getting any type of exercise can lead to insulin resistance, because you're never signaling the muscles to burn the glucose that's been stored. So quick review, excess blood glucose gets stored as triglycerides or fat in our cells, our muscles and liver can store some glycogen initially, so that's this another stored form of glucose that our muscles can use when we're exercising, but the access once we filled those stores gets stored as fat.
Brigitte Factor 13:45 Another effective approach to reversing insulin resistance is intermittent fasting. Now there are studies showing promising evidence that intermittent fasting can improve insulin sensitivity. This is based on the notion that if you're not taking in food, you're not eating sources of glucose, so your body will have to tap into its stored glucose. Now intermittent fasting is not for everyone, and people on medication shouldn't attempt this without their doctor's supervision. And I'm going to take a deep dive into intermittent fasting in my next episode, but I wanted to briefly mention it here because it is an effective approach for some people.
Brigitte Factor 14:26 Now there are some lifestyle factors that can play a role in insulin resistance developing that are beyond diet and exercise that most people don't pay enough attention to or don't consider it as significant. And those things are sleep and stress. Poor sleep in poor stress management or too much stress can both contribute to developing or prolonging insulin resistance. Short-term sleep deprivation can worsen insulin resistance overnight. There was one study showing that just one night of less than five hours of sleep causes insulin resistance the next day. And so this is a temporary phenomenon with that short sleep. But if you do this continuously over time, you can see how that insulin resistance can start to set in and be more permanent. So getting adequate sleep may help improve insulin sensitivity. Another unrecognized but remarkable factor on insulin resistance is stress. I've spent several episodes talking about stress and how our body responds to stress. So just a quick review, whenever our body experience stress, it releases stress hormones. Now, this can be psychological stress, like financial, relationship, work type stress, or it can be physiological stress, like there's something going on inside the body that is, is causing a stress to the system like infection or inflammation as well. All of this is considered stress to the system. When our body responds to stress, it produces stress hormones, and these stress hormones cause our cells to release sugar or glucose. And the reason is, is so we can have the energy to escape whatever stress we're under. Well, if your blood sugars are elevated, and the stress signal causes your cells to dump more sugar into your blood, this can lead to even higher blood sugars. And diabetics who tests our blood sugars frequently can notice this effect. I experienced this when I was testing mine, whenever I would have a stressful event, my blood sugar's would increase even if I hadn't eaten anything in a few hours. Now, for most people, this is a short-term thing, but studies have shown that chronic stress will lead to insulin resistance over time.
Brigitte Factor 17:00 So when you combine our modern stressful lifestyle with our modern processed food diet, you have a recipe for insulin resistance. And it's estimated that one in three Americans have insulin resistance. So let's recap on the diet and lifestyle factors that can help us reverse this trend. First is eating a lower carb, nutrient-dense whole foods diet that is appropriate for your bio-individuality. Working with a holistic nutrition professional is a great way to figure out what's gonna work best for you. Intermittent fasting may also be helpful. And I will talk more about this in my next episode. Getting some type of daily exercise is also going to be important. So you're working out those muscles and using up your fuel stores. And this can be whatever is doable for you at the time, but getting your heart rate up building muscle, all of those things are going to be important. Another thing is getting adequate restful sleep. So you're not putting yourself into insulin resistance mode by not getting enough sleep. And then lastly, managing stress because stress or chronic stress can lead to insulin resistance as well. So finding ways to help manage your stress is also going to help you with insulin sensitivity. Now the four things I've mentioned here, diet, exercise, sleep, and stress are the starting points for most people and just working on those things can promote a profound change. Other people may need to dig a little bit deeper and uncover what the some of those hidden stressors are or hidden sources of inflammation that may be contributing to insulin resistance. And in that case, working with a professional will help. Now all of these together can play a role. But diet is foundational. And if you're ready to figure out what's going to work best for you and get the support you need to make these changes, then I'd love to talk with you. There are two ways that we can work together we can work one on one, or you can join my next no sugar challenge and work in a group setting. To find out more visit my website at Brigitte Factor dot com and you can set up a free clarity call with me if you have questions.
Brigitte Factor 19:31 No matter where you are with your health journey. There is always hope. There's always hope for improvement and there are things that you can do. So many people are told that diabetes runs in their family. And that's just how it's gonna be. But there are things that you can do that can have a positive impact on your health. For those listening that would like to do more research on your own. I will post some of the links in the show notes to the studies I've mentioned. And also if you have found this information helpful, please share this episode, help spread this lifesaving message with other people. That is why I am doing this. That's why I'm sharing this information is I want it to make an impact and help others. Well, once again, I thank you so much for listening. And until next time, Grace and peace to you.