Everything SUCKS when insulin is high
I'm know within our program thefastingmethod.com and our community for making repetitive and sometimes funny statements. One of my all-time favourite sayings is "don't feed the insulin beast" and I wrote a blog post about this here. Lately I've been adding to that and saying "Everything SUCKS when insulin is high". I love seeing all the heads bob up and down in our community meetings when I say this. Our members know what I mean. "Your work sucks, your spouse sucks, having to exercise sucks, having to eat healthy sucks, talking and listening to me particularly sucks, when insulin is high. The only thing that doesn't seem to suck when your insulin is high is eating sugar and junk!", I often say. Can you relate?
When your insulin is high, or when the "insulin beast moves in", absolutely everything sucks and you even feel like YOU suck, because you seemingly have no willpower to do all the things that you recognize would be better and healthier for you. You feel like you suck even more because you DON'T WANT TO do any of these things, especially cut sugar.
If you journal (which I highly encourage you to do) you may have a record of other times in your life when you felt great, had lots of "willpower", and thus made much better choices, easily! You enjoyed your life and your family more, you enjoyed physical activity, you chose better foods, you even slept better and your stress felt lower. During these good times, you felt invincible, like you could take on the world!
What could possibly be the missing link that's causing such polar opposite moods, feelings, energy levels and, consequently, metabolic changes?You probably know this already, but it's "hormonal".
Our body responds to our hormone levels in a very very obvious way. We have over 50 recognizable hormones that we produce in very small amounts but respond to them in a GIGANTIC way. Collectively these hormones affect our mood, our skin, our hair, our energy levels, how we feel about other people, our reproductive health, and every single other biological process in our body. Think of hormones as messengers. Our cells have receptors to these messengers and depending on these minute levels and pulsating fluctuations, our body functions respond accordingly.
One hormone you're probably hearing a lot about lately is insulin. Insulin is this incredibly powerful hormone that up until recently was only really connected to our blood sugar regulation. Blood sugar regulation in and of itself has a tremendous impact on our overall health and mood. But we now recognize that this amazing hormone, that our pancreas hopefully produces, is vital (think about type 1 diabetics that have an inability to produce adequate amounts of insulin and have to inject it exogenously in order to grow and survive). We now know that every cell in the mammalian body has insulin receptors. Knowing this, it then makes sense that insulin has some very powerful functions throughout our entire body, including our brains.
Whereas type 1 diabetics produce an inadequate amount of insulin, people with hyperinsulinemia (high levels of insulin) and insulin resistance produce an excessive amount. Remember that hormones have a very powerful impact on our entire bodies while being produced at minute amounts.
So what happens when your insulin is too high? Yes, you may have obvious irregular and high blood sugars such as in type 2 diabetes, but a vast array of other things may also indicate high insulin levels. Even if your blood sugars are within normal limits, high insulin levels will result in excessive fat storage, particularly in your liver and belly area (no bueno, as I like to say). High insulin levels are responsible for reproductive concerns such as in PCOS, unexplained infertility, irregular periods and even erectile dysfunction. Sugar and junk food cravings will also be present in hyperinsulinemia. One seemingly weird symptom of high insulin levels is having, instead of high blood sugars, the exact opposite: rebound hypoglycemia. Rebound hypoglycemia is the feeling of low blood sugars, feeling shaky and weak, and the need to eat something urgently even if you've just eaten an hour or two before. Loads of retention, inflammation and pain can be a sign of high insulin. Skin concerns such as acne, skin tags, dark velvety patchy skin and rough feet can be a sign of high insulin. High blood pressure can be caused by insulin resistance. My all-time favourite depiction of higher insulin levels is PMS (premenstrual syndrome). Everything ABSOLUTELY SUCKS when insulin is high!
But could your mood and the way you feel about others also be impacted by high blood insulin levels? Absolutely! Again, not just because high insulin levels will create irregular (high and low blood sugars, which affect your mood) but insulin seems to have many other powerful functions that would have a tremendous impact on your mood and energy levels. Insulin, as mentioned is a hormone, a messenger, with receptors all over your body.
When insulin is either too high (or too low) you feel absolutely lousy. If your insulin levels are too high you will feel like you gain weight very easily (particularly around your belly area), you may have all the debilitating symptoms of PCOS (with or without a diagnosis), and yes absolutely everything else in your life may feel like it sucks! You will feel particularly powerless and weak especially about having to embark on a weightloss diet, because all you feel like doing is EATING SUGAR. Normal! Don't beat yourself up for it! Of course this makes sense because when your insulin levels are high you mostly crave carbs, sugars and processed junkier foods. You are in retention mode, in eat mode, in storage mode. There is absolutely nothing wrong with you as a person (or your spouse, for that matter lol) or anything wrong with your willpower. All of these feelings are expected and normal, when your insulin is high. It's hormonal!
Now what?!? Well, in the famous words of Dr. Jason Fung, "if the problem is insulin, the solution, is to lower insulin." Seems obvious and simple enough, but how exactly do you do this? It may be simple, but it isn't always easy, I know!
It would be very helpful if everyone could recognize the signs and symptoms of high levels of insulin before becoming a type 2 diabetic so that we could all prevent it from happening, wouldn't it? It turns out now we can!
I hope the above blogs are helpful!