FAQs: Insulin Resistance

  1. What is insulin resistance, why does it occur, and why is it typically associated with high insulin levels?

    Insulin has a prominent hormonal effect on skeletal muscle fibers, liver cells, and fat cells; in these tissues, it encourages uptake and discourages the release of blood sugar (glucose) and fats.  In other words, insulin promotes fuel storage. Insulin resistance refers to a condition in which these tissues respond inefficiently to the insulin signal, so that higher levels of insulin are required to get its metabolic job done properly.  Insulin resistance is usually compensated by increased insulin release by the pancreas, which leads to elevated blood levels of insulin all day long; that’s why combating insulin resistance is crucial to a low-insulin lifestyle.  Insulin resistance of muscle, liver and fat cells is typically seen in a common metabolic disorder known as “metabolic syndrome”, which is usually associated with and caused by an excessive accumulation of fat in the body’s abdominal regions.  People with metabolic syndrome are at increased risk for heart disease, stroke, dementia, diabetes, and many types of cancer. More scientific detail →


  2. What is the Appropriate Glycemic Load of Accessory Meals?

    In order to determine which food portions have a glycemic load equal to 10 or less, one can consult GlycemicIndex.com for a very large number of foods. An alternative source listing 100 foods can be found at Harvard Health Publications.

    More scientific detail →


  3. Just what is it about low insulin that is so protective?

    Many things. Low insulin decreases the effective bioactivity of cancer-promotional hormones like IGF-I and estrogen by increasing the liver’s production of proteins that block their action. These hormones increase cancer risk by stimulating cell multiplication and thereby boosting the rate at which mutations occur in tissues sensitive to their action; these hormones also suppress a process called apoptosis that kills off many pre-cancerous cells before they can become cancers. Low levels of insulin and of IGF-I bioactivity also enable the protective process of autophagy, which is sort of like vacuuming out the old and damaged cell constituents so that they can be replaced with shiny new ones. And maintaining low insulin for most of the day enables your body to burn your stored fat so you have a chance to get leaner. Insulin is the primary hormonal signal that causes fat cells to store and retain fat, and it also blocks fat burning in other tissues. This probably explains why the Heller’s patients often lose a lot of weight. And getting lean or staying lean greatly reduces your risk for vascular disease, diabetes, and many cancers.


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