I first refer to Insulin as ‘the sleeping hormone’ after examining the role it plays in metabolic process. Today, millions around the world rely on insulin injection to stay alive because they can no longer wake the sleeping hormone. This article will examine the role of insulin as ‘the sleeping hormone’, how often you wake it affect your health, pocket and family emotionally.
What Is Insulin
Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that allows your body to use sugar (glucose) from carbohydrates in the food that you eat for energy or to store glucose for future use. Insulin helps keeps your blood sugar level from getting too high (hyperglycemia) or too low (hypoglycemia).
Why Is Insulin Termed ‘The Sleeping Hormone’?
I termed insulin ‘the sleeping hormone’ because the pancreas only produce it to process sugar in the body. The increase in sugar signals your pancreas to produce the amount of insulin you need to manage the level of sugar in your blood. When insulin is produced, glucagon is suppressed. Insulin stimulates the cells throughout your body to take in glucose from your bloodstream. Your cells then use glucose as energy. In essence, if you don’t eat food containing sugar, you do not over stress yourself, there will be no need for your body to produce or ‘wake up’ insulin. Insulin will remain in its sleeping form, unless you give your body reason to ‘wake it’ and use it.
How Often Should You Wake The Sleeping Hormone – Insulin?
From Africa to Asia to America to Europe, sugar is the most common ingredient in foods and diets. Processed grain, high carb diet, modern processed foods, Genetically Modified Foods and lifestyle changes has made millions around the world to wake this sleeping hormone more often.
Stress is another significant factor that trigger the secretion of insulin. Excessive exercise or exercising when you are low in insulin is another serious factor that wake the sleeping hormone.
Each time you eat carbohydrate food and sugar or you pass through stress or excessive exercise, the pancreas produce insulin to manage the sugar level in your blood. The more often your body produce this insulin, the higher your risk of developing insulin resistance or being unable to wake this sleeping hormone. If this trend continue, the pancreas may become damage and unable to produce insulin again thereby resulting in Type 1 Diabetes. Eventually you found that you will need to rely on insulin injection to survive.
Diseases Associated With Insulin
There are several diseased conditions associated with disturbed insulin secretion and utilization by the body. These include:
Type 1 diabetes or Insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM): In these patients there are auto-immune mechanisms in which the body’s own immune cells attack the insulin producing beta cells of the pancreas. This leads to an absolute insulin deficiency. These patients need to be supplemented with insulin injections from outside.
Type 2 or Non insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM): This is a condition where the body fails to produce the required amount of insulin. Thus there is a relative insulin deficiency. Genetic susceptibility, environmental factors, obesity, lack of physical exercise, insulin resistance etc. may lead to relative insulin deficiency.
Gestational diabetes: Some pregnant women require more insulin than their body can produce during pregnancy. This is also a state of relative insulin deficiency.
Impaired glucose tolerance and prediabetes: Prediabetes is a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. This condition is sometimes called impaired fasting glucose (IFG) or impaired glucose tolerance (IGT). People with prediabetes are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Insulinoma: These are tumors of the pancreatic beta cells that lead to excess production of insulin and this results in hypoglycaemia. However, blood glucose level alone is not diagnostic of insulinoma. Fasting insulin level of greater than 24 mU/mL is found in approximately 50% of patients with insulinoma. Values of insulin greater than 7 mU/mL after a more prolonged fast in the presence of a blood glucose less than 40 mg/dL also should raise suspicion of insulinomas. Measurements of proinsulin and C peptide also have proven to be valuable in patients suspected of having organic hypoglycaemia.
Metabolic syndrome: Metabolic syndrome is a combination of multiple clinical disorders that form a syndrome. It was initially called ‘Syndrome X’ by Gerald Reaven, Reaven’s Syndrome after Reaven, CHAOS in Australia (from the signs which seem to travel together), and sometimes prediabetes. The basic underlying cause may be the insulin resistance of type 2 diabetes. Metabolic syndrome is defined as the presence of any three of the following conditions:
- Waist measurement of 40 inches or more for men and 35 inches or more for women
- Dyslipidemia or deranged blood cholesterol.
Polycystic ovary syndrome: Polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS is complex syndrome in women that includes features of anovulation (non-production of eggs from the ovary), excess androgens, hirsuitism (excess facial hair), infertility etc. Most women with PCOS also exhibit features of the metabolic syndrome, including insulin resistance, obesity and disturbed blood lipid or cholesterol levels. There is a high risk of type 2 diabetes as well.
Diabetes and Eye Problems: Diabetes and eye problems are generally caused by high blood sugar levels over an extended period of time.
What If You Have Insulin Resistance or Insensitive Insulin?
Insulin resistance (IR) is a condition in which the body’s cells become resistant to the effects of insulin. That is, the normal response to a given amount of insulin is reduced. As a result, higher levels of insulin are needed in order for insulin to have its proper effects, and the pancreas compensates by trying to produce more insulin. This resistance occurs in response to the body’s own insulin (endogenous) or when insulin is administered by injection (exogenous). With insulin resistance, the pancreas produces more and more insulin until the pancreas can no longer produce sufficient insulin for the body’s demands, and then blood sugar rises.
Some medications can contribute to insulin resistance. Others include excess weight (particularly around the waist), high blood pressure, elevated levels of cholesterol, triglycerides in the blood, Obesity, Pregnancy, Infection or severe illness, Stress, Inactivity and excess weight, During steroid use, Older age, Sleep problems (especially sleep apnea) and cigarette smoking.
One of the earliest and most noticeable effect of insulin resistance is weight gain, particularly around the middle. Others include Hunger, Difficulty concentrating (brain fog), High blood pressure. Insulin resistance is a risk factor for development of diabetes and heart disease. If insulin resistance develops into prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, the symptoms will include increased blood glucose levels and more of the classic symptoms of type 2 diabetes.
So, if you have develop insulin resistance, you will need to work hard to improve on the responsiveness of your insulin to prevent high blood sugar. The following paragraphs will examine various ways to do that.
How To Improve Insulin Responsiveness & Sensitivity
Lifestyle changes (for example, diet and exercise) clearly are important, and education about these changes needs to be directed to groups at risk for diabetes. Below are some natural ways to improve insulin responsiveness:
Eat Healthy Fats: Eating a variety of foods high in short, medium and long-chain fatty acids is key to keeping your hormones in check. Your body needs various types of fats to create hormones, including saturated fat and cholesterol. Not only are these essential fats fundamental building blocks for hormone production, but they keep inflammation levels low, boost your metabolism and promote weight loss. My four favorite sources of anti-inflammatory, healthy fats include: coconut oil, avocados, grass-fed butter and wild-caught salmon.
Balance Your Intake of Omega-3 to Omega-6 Fats: I’ve seen an onslaught of chronic diseases caused by inflammatory processes literally take over our society, and a major reason why is because of very disproportionate fatty acids in our modern diet. Be sure to steer clear from oils high in omega-6 fats (safflower, sunflower, corn, cottonseed, canola, soybean and peanut), and load up on rich sources of natural omega-3s instead (wild fish, flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts and grass-fed animal products).
Improve Gut Health & Heal Leaky Gut Syndrome: Leaky gut is a condition that not only affects your digestive tract, but also causes hormone issues. Gut problems have been found to trigger autoimmune reactions, including arthritis and thyroid disorders. Most people with leaky gut have a deficiency of probiotics in their guts. Probiotics are healthy bacteria that can actually improve your production and regulation of key hormones like insulin, ghrelin and leptin. Steer clear of the foods that can cause damage in your digestive system most, including: processed foods, gluten, hydrogenated oils and added sugar.
Exercise: One of the best all-around activities you can do for your health is high intensity interval training (HIIT) – including one of my favorite types called burst training. If there is a silver bullet out there to help with a sluggish metabolism, weight gain and other issues, this just might be it! Exercise in general is great for balancing hormones because it reduces inflammation, can help you maintain a healthy weight, lowers stress, helps regulate your appetite, and aids in getting better sleep.
Reduce Stress & Get More Sleep: Unless you get 7-8 hours of sleep every night, you’re doing your body no favors. A Lack of sleep or disturbing your natural circadian rhythm can be one of the worst habits contributing to a hormone imbalance. Excessive stress and poor sleep are linked with higher levels of morning cortisol, decreased immunity, trouble with work performance, and a higher susceptibility to anxiety, weight gain and depression.
Watch Your Caffeine & Alcohol Intake: Caffeine in moderate amounts might be okay for some people, but drinking too much caffeine is almost as bad as not getting enough sleep. Caffeine, which can stay in your system for up to six hours, is a chemical that affects the central nervous system (CNS) and raises your heart rate, increases alertness, and changes the way your brain produces hormones.
Supplement with Vitamin D3: According to an article from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vitamin D affects “the adaptive immune system, the innate immune system, insulin secretion by the pancreatic ß cell, multifactorial heart functioning and blood pressure regulation, and brain and fetal development.” Vitamin D almost acts like a hormone inside the body and has important implications for keeping inflammation levels low.
Liver: The #1 Superfood to Balance Hormones: Gram for gram, liver is the most nutrient-dense food on the planet. Due to its unique nutritional profile, liver easily deserves the title, “Ideal Superfood to Balance Hormones.” Most importantly, liver provides the highest source of vitamin A, one of the most valuable vitamins to balance hormones. Vitamin A not only improves thyroid function, it improves liver health so we can synthesize and detox hormones well. Hormonal imbalance further compromises your ability to convert the carotene into usable vitamin A.
Avoid Harmful Chemicals: Harmful chemicals found in pesticides, plastics, household cleaners, and even mattresses can contain hormone disrupting chemicals that mimic hormones in the body and keep the body from producing real hormones. Things like hormonal birth control can (obviously) do the same thing. For those with a hormone imbalance or who are struggling to get pregnant, avoiding these unnecessary chemicals is very important! Cook in glass or non-coated metal pans and avoid heating or storing foods in plastic. Find organic produce and meat whenever possible and don’t use chemical pesticides or cleaners. Beauty products are another source of chemical exposure for many people.
Insulin is a powerful hormone and in my own perspective a sleeping giant. from a medical point of view, we advise people to reduce their intake of carbohydrate or sugar to reduce risk of insulin resistance. Rather than focusing on the frequency of taking the carb food, you can focus more on the portion you take. It is also advisable to take wholegrain carbohydrate over processed grain or high carb diet.
If you wake ‘the sleeping hormone too often, you risk damaging your pancreas and put yourself at risk of developing diabetes. Lifestyle changes (for example, diet and exercise) clearly are important in improving your insulin sensitivity, and education about these changes needs to be directed to groups at risk for diabetes.