Today’s low-carb lesson, What Is Insulin Resistance And Hyperinsulinemia?
We are incredibly lucky to have Dr Catherine Crofts join us to explain these terms and why they are so important to understand to avoid future metabolic diseases.
Low-Carb Lesson - What Is Insulin Resistance And Hyperinsulinemia?
- What is insulin resistance?
- Hyperinsulinemia - why should we try to avoid it?
- What is metabolic syndrome?
- How does insulin affect signalling in the brain (and why this could be a breakthrough in neurodegenerative states)
What Is Insulin Resistance and Hyperinsulinemia?
Image credits: Dr Catherine Crofts.
When you eat/drink any digestible carbohydrate, it is turned into glucose in our body.
Normal cell: The body requires insulin to help facilitate the movement of glucose from the blood by attaching to the insulin receptors as shown above.
Insulin resistant cell: If you live on a high carb diet, chances are you will have chronic high blood sugars. These chronic high blood sugars require chronic high levels of insulin, (whether it is made by our body or injected) and so these insulin receptors become resistant to the effect of the high levels of circulating insulin.
Hyperinsulinemia: If you are insulin resistant, the glucose remains high (because the insulin is not having it's desired effect to transport glucose from the blood into the cells) the body begins to produce more insulin. Hyperinsulinemia is the elevated levels of insulin.
The Many Roles of Insulin
Research is discovering the numerous roles insulin plays in our body, including:
- rapid transport of glucose into cells
- lowering of raised blood glucose
- prevents fat burning
- promotes fat storage
- increases hunger
- negative feedback with glucagon (glucose-gone) and so prevents the body from converting glycogen into glucose (NB: it now appears that processed food interferes with this signalling pathway and negative feedback, so blood sugars can be raised by processed food AND be raised by gluconeogenesis)
- nerve communication
- anabolic hormone
- affects protein synthesis
- affects hormone synthesis
Why is it so bad to be a sugar burner? Because burning sugar is a dirty fuel and causes oxidative stress, free radicals and inflammation throughout the body.
What Are The Complications Of Hyperinsulinemia?
Hyperinsulinemia is one of the most important discoveries in modern times. You may wish to read Catherine's paper "Hyperinsulinemia: A unifying theory of chronic disease?" CLICK HERE.
"Hyperinsulinemia, directly and indirectly, contributes to a vast array of metabolic diseases including all inflammatory conditions, all vascular diseases, gestational and type 2 diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, obesity and certain cancers and dementia. The mechanisms include increased production of insulin growth factor-1; reactive oxidative species and advanced glycation end-products; and triglyceride and fatty acids. Hyperinsulinemia also, directly and indirectly, affects many other hormones and cytokine mechanisms including leptin, adiponectin and estrogen."
What Is Metabolic Syndrome?
Metabolic syndrome is defined as having 3 of the top 5 symptoms above. It is a cluster of conditions (termed metabolic syndrome as an umbrella term) that increases your risk of cancer, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and dementia, just to name a few.
So for example, if you're taking a statin, have high blood pressure, and a big tummy (dangerous visceral fat), then you have metabolic syndrome.
Glucose Tolerance Tests - Do They Tell The Full Story?
The glucose tolerance test only shows your blood glucose levels rise and fall over a few hours and does not reflect the insulin that your body produced over that period.
For example, two people may have the same glucose tolerance test results, but one may have required an excessive amount of insulin to transport the glucose out of the blood and into the cells ie: they are insulin resistance with hyperinsulinemia but still pass the glucose tolerance test.
You may have a normal glucose tolerance test for years before your blood glucose is out of the normal range BUT your levels of endogenous insulin (made in the body) could be raised for decades before.
By the time you fail your glucose tolerance test, you may already be insulin resistant, have hyperinsulinemia and probably also have metabolic syndrome.
What Is Insulin Resistance and Hyperinsulinemia?
Top 3 Takeaway Notes
- To prevent insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia, enjoy unprocessed low-carb whole foods.
- Do not rely solely on the results of a glucose tolerance test.
- Hyperinsulinemia, directly and indirectly, contributes to a vast array of metabolic diseases.
Dr Catherine Crofts
Dr Catherine Crofts is undeniably the world expert on insulin.
Catherine has been a pharmacist for over 20 years as a clinical community pharmacist, hospital pharmacist and now at AUT teaching. undergraduate health science students, while continuing her research on insulin and health.
Catherine worked with Prof Grant Schofield on her Master's thesis. A PhD followed by investigating the impact of high insulin levels on health and disease.
During this process, she discovered the work of Dr Joseph Kraft and his extensive dataset of insulin response patterns. The research showed that up to 75% of people with a normal blood glucose level, may have high insulin levels, and these high insulin levels may be a bigger risk factor for heart disease, rather than high blood glucose levels.
You can find Dr Catherine Crofts here:
- Website - https://pharmacistcatherine.net/
- Presentations - many more of her presentations can be found on YouTube
- Research papers -
- Hyperinsulinemia: A unifying theory of chronic disease?
- Postprandial insulin assay as the earliest biomarker for diagnosing pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes and increased cardiovascular risk
- Identifying hyperinsulinaemia in the absence of impaired glucose tolerance: An examination of the Kraft database
HOW TO START LOW-CARB
If you are new here and would like to learn how to start low-carb, take a look at how to start a low-carb diet for beginners.
You'll find all the resources you need to start a low-carb diet or how to start a keto diet.
There's also a FAQ and simple diet sheet so you can get started straight away with some simple meal ideas.