Insulin and obesity and how they go hand in hand

Let's dive into the wonderful world of insulin, and why it is so important when we look at our modern world. Obesity is sky-rocketing in all continents, and even more concerning is the overfat pandemic (waist circumference superior half the height) that affects 76 percent of the world population 1 . And if you think hitting the gym is going to solve this, think again. Because the world didn't become lazy overnight, even if your cousin Dylan seems to be evidence to the contrary.

So let's start by explaining what insulin is and does in the body. It's a hormone that is produced by your pancreas, and each time you eat carbohydrates, insulin is secreted to deal with the glucose and keep around half a teaspoonful (2.5 grams) in the bloodstream. But insulin is also the orchestral conductor of a number of other functions which we dealt with in the previous section: Excess glucose gets packed away in the form of glycogen by the liver and it can’t be used until you are genuinely starving. Messages tell your brain to stay hungry and keep on eating while the food is plentiful, which these days, it always is. Meanwhile, you also feel lethargic as your metabolism slows. As you pack on the pounds, it becomes increasingly difficult to get out and exercise. When you go to the doctor, you are told you are just being gluttonous and slothful. All the while, you are actually suffering from a hormonal response, the result of the insulin acting on your metabolism because you have become addicted to snacking on, or even gorging on carbs.

 
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Like nicotine, or heroine, or many other drugs, the body gradually loses its sensitivity to insulin. This means that over time, more insulin is required to keep glucose levels under control after eating carbs. All the associated functions of insulin continue and you get more obese and suffer from increased laziness and increasing internal inflammation which becomes chronic inflammation (chronic just means long-lasting). There is nothing traditional medicine can do other than treat the symptoms. “Take x for gout, y for depression and of course statins for high cholesterol!” Finally, when your blood results reveal you have developed Type II Diabetes, you will start having to assist your failing pancreas with externally injected insulin. While this may seem like a solution, all it is doing is keeping your blood glucose under control. All the other effects of insulin, most notably the building up of chronic inflammation throughout your body, simply get worse. And that is why insulin resistance how it leads to diabetes 2 is the single largest predictor of heart disease 3 , Alzheimers, and even Cancer.

Put simply, by keeping insulin levels low throughout our lives, we protect ourselves from a lot of the most common metabolic diseases. To achieve this, we should avoid spiking our bloodsugar processed foods and added sugars, as well as be careful as to the amount of carbs we put in our plates.


[1] Overfat and Underfat: New Terms and Definitions Long Overdue
[2] Trajectories of glycaemia, insulin sensitivity, and insulin secretion before diagnosis of type 2 diabetes: an analysis from the Whitehall II study. Lancet 2009; 373: 2215–2221
[3] Insulin resistance in non-diabetic subjects is associated with increased incidence of myocardial infarction and death.