The Blood Test We Should All Be Asking For - And 5 Simple Secrets to Fix it

Metabolic Syndrome, this overwhelmingly common condition is at the root of most if not all lifestyle diseases today. Yet it is completely reversible and completely avoidable with some very simple healthy lifestyle and healthy food choices. Being truly healthful really IS in our own hands. Keep reading to learn some effective secrets to staying healthy and well long into old age.

21-Sept 2020, by Bronwyn MacRitchie

What Comes BEFORE Diabetes?

Today, diabetes is diagnosed using the following test results. Our fasting glucose, our HBA1C and in some cases an oral glucose tolerance test. Our GP or Endocrinologist will wait for these numbers to get high enough and then begin the medication process.

But what about lifestyle?

These doctors will place very little focus on diet and lifestyle changes and when they DO give advice in these areas, it is dated and deeply misguided. (Keto meal plans are still not recommended by the American Diabetes Association, though Low Carb has recently entered their vocabulary). Doctors are often still recommending that diabetics and pre-diabetics continue to eat fruit, rice and bread.

The current global pandemic of Covid-19 has truly highlighted the reality of how weak our immunity becomes in the face of a hormone run rampant. In countries across the world we have watched as patients with metabolic syndrome have succumbed to this virus.

So if the medication fixes it, what's the problem?

The medication becomes less and less effective in the face of the ever-increasing glucose, eventually the patient will end up using exogenous insulin, and get sicker and sicker finally ending up with one of the hard end points of blindness, amputation or death. All of this for a process that CAN be reversed. Even once the patient has begun medication. Sometimes even once the patient is using exogenous insulin.

The same happens in the case of Hypertension. Medication. Polycystic ovarian syndrome. Medication. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Medication. Heart disease risk. Medication.

But could we have caught them earlier?

What those at the forefront of research into metabolic diseases are desperately trying to communicate is that this idea of the disease process beginning with one of the above results is dated.

By the time the body presents an elevated HBA1C of blood pressure, the patient has likely been battling insulin resistance for YEARS. And this condition has been lowering the body’s immunity at the same time as it employs all its resources to manage the ever present influx of insulin.

What has Covid-19 shown us?

The current global pandemic of Covid-19 has truly highlighted the reality of how weak our immunity becomes in the face of a hormone run rampant. In countries across the world we have watched as patients with metabolic syndrome have succumbed to this virus.

While it initially appeared that it was those with diabetes and heart disease who were hardest hit, what we have come to see is that any patient who is overweight or has hypertension (both clear signs of insulin resistance) has had to battle far harder for their lives.

These patients have not been diagnosed as diabetic, but their bodies are clearly metabolically damaged. As lay people we go for a checkup once every couple of years, the doctor tells us we are fine, most of the time we don’t even ask to see the results!

Most doctors will not even mention that there is a blood glucose issue until the HBA1C is over 6. While anything over 5.7 is a STRONG warning signal from our bodies that something is WRONG.

So what does it mean?

Our HBA1C may stay at 5.2 for years and years while our body is fighting HARD (and still winning) against chronically elevated glucose levels. We need insulin to remove the glucose from our bloodstream. It does this well, as it knows that high glucose is toxic to our body and to all our tissues.

However, insulin is NOT meant to be in a chronically elevated state in our bodies. It is intended to rise in response to food two or three times a day, and should drop within a certain amount of time after that food. And should not be raised again in response to continued feeding all day.

However, when we are feeding our bodies processed high carb foods continuously and remaining sedentary most of the time, insulin needs to remain present to continue removing glucose from the bloodstream so that we don’t get sick. This image shows it best. We do NOT want to be living with a chronically elevated insulin level.

The resistance cycle

However, as we learn more about insulin resistance, it is clear that before insulin begins to FAIL at bringing blood glucose down into healthy ranges, it has been excessively high in the body for some time, usually YEARS! This is because insulin is very effective at doing its job!

It keeps our blood glucose in a healthy range! So… in a lifetime of continuous feeding, mostly of foods that cause our blood glucose to rise significantly (processed carbs, high GI fruits, sugary foods and drinks), our insulin has been working VERY hard to try and keep our blood glucose from harming us!

In fact, it has been signaling so frequently that our cells have become RESISTANT to this signaling. In much the same way as we become resistant to medication or exercise, and the dose needs to INCREASE to have the same effect.

So, because insulin NEEDS to keep having the same effect, our pancreas INCREASES the insulin dose. It works for a while, until the insulin receptors become MORE resistant, and the pancreas increases the dose. It works for a while until… and so it goes.

But through all this time of increasing insulin, our blood glucose and HBA1C are still well within the healthy range, because insulin is STILL (in its greatly increased presence) managing to keep those down! However, this does NOT mean all is well.

What does it mean for our health?

Our pancreas is working double time, and this storage hormone is running rife in our bodies, increasing inflammation and beginning a variety of disease processes. And not just type 2 diabetes. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), hypertension (another risk marker for heart disease and metabolic syndrome), chronic erectile dysfunction, Alzheimer’s and dementia, increased inflammation which can trigger auto-immune conditions, the list goes on.

As pointed out by Dr Benjamin Bikman in his important book, Why We Get Sick, this means the disease process has been advancing for a VERY long time before our fasting glucose and HBA1C will reflect it.

So how do we know if this is happening?

So... how do we know if this is going on behind the scenes in the face of a perfect HBA1C score? There are two tests you can ask your doctor for.

The first is your fasting insulin. Get this at the same time as your fasting glucose to calculate your homeostatic model assessment (HOMA) score. ‘The value is determined mathematically by: [Glucose (mg/dL) × Insulin (μU/mL)] / 405 (for the United States) or [Glucose (mmol/L) × Insulin (μU/mL)] / 22.5 (for most other countries). Though there’s no consensus yet, a value over 1.5 indicates insulin resistance, and above 3 usually means you’re on the borderline of having type 2 diabetes.’ (1)

However, this alone isn’t usually enough to be entirely sure that your insulin response is healthy. An oral glucose tolerance test is certainly the way to go if you can get your doctor to order one.

You will drink 75 grams of glucose and get your blood drawn every 30 minutes for 2 hours. The easiest way to interpret these results is as follows. If your insulin peaks at 30 minutes and steadily comes down you are insulin sensitive, and have a healthy insulin response. If your insulin peaks at 60 minutes and then comes down, your insulin response is higher and longer than normal, and you are already in the high risk zone for insulin resistance. If your insulin peaks at 120 minutes you are 15 times more likely to get Type 2 Diabetes, and heavily more at risk for a variety of other metabolic diseases such as heart disease and cancer.

Remember that information is power!

Having this data on your body’s insulin response could be the thing that saves you or a loved one from allowing disease to take hold in the body.

Once you KNOW how your insulin pathway is performing you can begin to take actions to reverse the disease. FINALLY, those simple secret steps we promised you right at the start!

Here are ingfit's Top 5 Simple Secret Steps to Preventing and Reversing Metabolic Disease

1. Eat a healthy low carb or ketogenic diet

Eat a healthy ketogenic diet or low carb diet. Depending on where your level of insulin resistance is keep your carbs as low as possible in response. If your insulin is high, stick to 20g total carbs a day until this changes, and then slowly increase.

2. MOVE your body!

Even 20 minutes of moderate exercise a day can improve the body’s insulin response. Specific tissues tend to become insulin resistant before others, and those are usually in the legs, this is greatly impacted by being sedentary, and is the reason that it is usually the feet and legs which are the first to be lost in late stage diabetes. Include some aerobic exercise to raise your heart rate slightly (this will be a different intensity for everyone, it may just be some brisk walking) Weight training is also especially effective in this regard as it builds lean muscle which is metabolically healthy tissue.

3. Try intermittent fasting or extended fasting

Fasting is nature’s best doctor. Try to incorporate intermittent fasting as much as possible. The less your body is faced with a continuous stream of food the less the insulin response will be activated, and the more time there is to heal this pathway.

4. Practice stress reduction

Practice stress reduction. While insulin IS raised in response to food, it is also raised in response to cortisol, our stress hormone.

Because our bodies haven’t figured out the difference between an angry boss and a tiger just yet, we release cortisol frequently in response to many day to day situations. In order to be able to more effectively lower this cortisol, we need to have a practice that gives us that ability. We recommend a meditation practice or a yoga practice to help clear the excess cortisol from your body and help you better respond to stressful situations when they arise.

5. Prioritize sleep!

Even ONE night of sleeping less than 6 hours increases insulin resistance in body tissues! Continuous nights of reduced sleep can raise insulin resistance to pre-diabetic levels even WITH a healthy well formulated ketogenic diet.

Not only this, but we are much more likely to reach for high reward foods such as sugar and processed carbs when we are not well rested. For more information about how sleep deprivation makes us sick, check out this article.

We HAVE the knowledge, now we just need to ACT

The beauty of the internet is that is has de-institutionalized information. Things that only doctors knew 15 years ago are now public knowledge.

Science that would take YEARS to filter from peer reviewed studies into the mainstream is becoming public knowledge before institutions can catch up. In this age of knowledge as power we need to remain one step ahead of policy change and take our health and wellness into our own hands to avoid becoming chronically ill in the future.

Knowing our insulin resistance status is one such power we can reclaim. While our doctor will almost certainly not order these tests without us requesting them, it is our right to request them, know our results and take action in response to them.

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Bronwyn MacRitchie

Comments

Bronwyn MacRitchie

This is such a good read, Bron. I have PCOS which I know makes it harder for me to lose weight especially after pregnancy. I just did my fasted insulin and glucose test on Saturday, just waiting for the results. But I have to say I’ve fasted more in the last 2 weeks than I have ever done before and it feels great just reducing the eating window. I’m glad you explain how to interpret them because I didn’t know that before just used to go with what the Doc told me. I found this post at the right time. :) Thanks Bron.

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