Significance of High Insulin

This is a concern, because prolonged elevated insulin is very inflammatory. And inflammation is the root of illness. Now is the time for action!

Causes of elevated insulin are a high sugar/carbohydrate diet and the continuum of Insulin Resistance—>Pre-diabetes—>Type 2 Diabetes.

Insulin resistance is where your body has to make A LOT more insulin to control blood sugar than normal. This perpetual high insulin causes inflammation. Once it progresses to pre-diabetes your blood sugar starts to rise. When your blood sugar rises past a rather arbitrary threshold then you are given the diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes.

I’m going to be straight with you—high insulin is bad news! Studies now show that the health risks of insulin resistance are just as significant as overt diabetes. It is associated with high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer and dementia. Yikes!

The good news is that it is REALLY amenable to lifestyle changes. That means you can make some changes that will have a huge impact on your health for the rest of your life.

Something you need to do ASAP is get your blood sugar, fasting insulin level and hemoglobin A1C level checked. This will tell you where you are on the continuum, and how urgently you need to take action.

Intermittent Fasting to Decrease Insulin Levels

Intermittent Fasting is simple. Compress your “eating window”, the hours a day in which you consume food or calories. A great method is to allow 16-18 hours from the end of food-intake one day to the start of food-intake the next day. This compresses your “eating window” to 6-8 hours. The result is lowered insulin, improved blood sugar, easier weight loss, and lower inflammation–all VERY GOOD THINGS! Make sure you do a “clean fast”. Black coffee, black tea and water are allowed during the fasting period. Don’t think you can cheat with cream in your coffee–that breaks the fast. I know… believe me, I know. Just put your big girl pants on and drink it black.

I have some personal experience with this. I have a family history of diabetes. Not long ago my blood sugar average was in the pre-diabetes range. Knowing this was a health-hazard, I had to take action. I decided to take up intermittent fasting. After I got over my initial temper-tantrum about black coffee, I did it. The results were impressive! I reversed the pre-diabetes, even though the time-frame encompassed Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, AND my birthday and wedding anniversary… These are times when most people’s blood sugar goes UP, and not down.

Stress Reduction to Reduce Insulin Levels

You see, stress leads to high cortisol.. High cortisol increases blood sugar, and this leads to high insulin. Therefore, reducing stress will lead to improvements in insulin levels.

It sounds simple, because it is. Notice though, that I did NOT say “easy”. There’s a difference between simple and easy! Some people, me included, do not find relaxation an easy thing to do. Sure, I may LOOK relaxed, sitting in my chair, but what you don’t see is the hamster wheel going 100 miles-per-hour in my head!

That’s the thing. Stress has multiple forms, but they are ALL associated with high cortisol. A life threatening emergency and multi-tasking have the same biochemical effect–high cortisol, with its blood-sugar issues. So what can you do? Here’s some practical suggestions:

  • Practice gratitude. Start a gratitude journal. Every morning take 5 minutes to write down 3 things you are grateful for.
  • Read a passage from a book that helps you focus on simplicity and beauty.
  • Practice focused mindfulness (aka meditation). There are many sources available online. Some are free and others charge a nominal fee for access to guided meditations.
  • Spend time in nature.
  • Walk barefoot outside.
  • Sing or hum–this activates the vagus nerve, which is the “calm down” nerve that controls the opposite part of the nervous system.
  • Practice rhythmic breathing; deep breath over 4 seconds, hold for 3-4 seconds and exhale slowly over 4 seconds. Do that 5 times and you just spent a minute on stress reduction!

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