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For most Americans, it is the chronic over-production of insulin that, over time, burns out the pancreas’ ability to adequately produce insulin. The over-production of insulin is the underlying epidemic of our time, and most doctors rarely test for it. Insulin levels will begin to rise way before blood sugars begin to creep out of the normal range. High insulin levels have been recognized as contributing factors to a variety of cancers, weight gain and obesity. (1,2,3)
Our Feeding Frenzy
High-glycemic index foods, simple sugars and refined carbohydrates only deliver short bursts of energy, leaving you craving more in just a few quick hours. These nutrient-sparse foods encourage us to overeat the amount of calories we actually can utilize. The result is scary – we have 50 percent of the American population overweight, one-third obese, another third with pre-diabetes, and 10 percent with type II diabetes. (3,4)
The Silent Killer
While we continue to overshoot the calorie runway, watching cancers, blood sugars and obesity levels rise, insulin quietly creeps up into dangerous levels. While insulin is a hormone most popular for delivering sugar from the blood into the cells, it is also a growth hormone. This means that it increases cellular division rates (often without normal DNA gene regulation) and the growth of fat cells – most notably belly and hip fat. (4)
As we all know, if you eat too much, the excess will be converted into fat as a storage supply of energy for later. As the fat cells swell, they begin to produce aggravating agents, called cytokines, which block the ability for insulin to effectively deliver sugar into the cells from the bloodstream. The pancreas’ response to that is to secrete more insulin in an attempt to get the sugar out of the blood, but excess sugar deposited anywhere in the body causes problems. (4)
Not only is excess insulin in the blood linked to weight gain and blood sugar issues, the new research is linking it to a variety of cancers. For example, in one study, a high-sugar, insulin-provoking diet increased the risk of breast cancer by 36-41 percent. (1)
Another study showed that obese women with the higher percentage of belly and hip fat had a 70 percent increased risk of pancreatic cancer. (4) In another study involving the evaluations of routine colonoscopies, the patients with the highest insulin levels had a 17-42 percent increased risk of a cancerous growth in the colon. (5)
Healthy Insulin Levels
According to some of the leading blood sugar experts, fasting insulin levels should be part of your regular blood sugar screening. This should be done with a fasting glucose test (healthiest range 70-85mg/dL) and a Hemoglobin A1c, which is a 3-month average blood sugar test (healthiest range is below 5%). The healthiest insulin fasting level should be below 7 mcIU/ml. (6)
Manage Insulin Naturally
Of course, the most effective way to lower insulin levels is to cut sugar, processed foods and high-glycemic foods out of the diet. To accomplish this, I highly suggest reading my FREE eBook, Blood Sugar Secrets to Health and Longevity.
In addition, certain nutrients and foods have been found to be effective in combination with holistic regimens designed to support the body’s natural ability to regulate insulin levels.
- In preliminary studies, supplementation with Resveratrol, a phenol naturally occurring in grapes and red wine, has been linked to short-term positive effects on overall insulin health in patients with blood sugar concerns. (7)
- In combination with caloric restrictions, supplementation with EPA and DHA Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oils, were found to support the homeostasis of insulin levels in individuals with weight-related issues compared with caloric restrictions alone. (8)
- Supplementation with green tea and vitamin E has been shown to compliment the benefits of regular moderate exercise on the metabolic health of elderly individuals with no other health concerns. (9)
An Important Note: Chronically elevated fasting insulin levels, defined as >25 mcIU/mL, are a marker of Insulin Resistance Syndrome, a condition that can predispose you to develop diabetes, heart disease, and other serious health conditions. If you are concerned that you insulin levels may be chronically elevated, please speak with your primary care physician before embarking on any self-care regimen.