20 Jan Insulin Resistance or Metabolic Syndrome?
Weight loss is not a simple equation of energy in less energy out = weight. It is a complex matrix of factors including stress, nutritional status, liver function, digestive efficiency, hormonal balance and adequate detoxification and sleep. Converse to popular perception overweight people are not ‘pigging out’. Most overweight people are under sleeping, skipping meals and stressed out.
Starving yourself of nutrients by doing a programme that only offers calorie reduction as the plan is fraught with bad science and is making us fatter as our metabolisms slow down even more. Many weight loss programmes fool participants through incorrect science and many oversimplify the issue via the sole tactic of calorie reduction. Many protein meal replacements only programmes are now being promoted via chemists and health food stores. These programmes damage your metabolism and fail to recreate the self-image and habits necessary for sustained weight loss and lifestyle change. Using meal replacement only or extremely rigid food rules means that when you stop the diet you cannot order anything from a restaurant or go to a dinner party. This is untenable, so eventually we break the diet and feeling like a failure, we lack the motivation to get back on to the programme and thus gain the weight and a little extra until next time. Because of our unique understanding of the biochemical and physiological cause of metabolic syndrome, our professionals are able to unlock the key to releasing fat for energy and permanently shifting yourself concepts to create permanent size reduction. Weight loss is a multibillion-dollar industry. Most programmes are delivered by lay or sales people with little training. It is no wonder they are failing to deliver, with most consumers of these programmes regaining all the weight lost plus an extra few kilos. With such poor long term results for their customers, one is left wondering where the motivation to enter the business of weight loss stems from. We couldn’t consistently take our car to be serviced to a mechanic whose service only delivered such temporary results. The very philosophical base of our team is to ensure your long term wellbeing is protected and supported so it makes sense to trust such an important issue such as your health to a professional trained in nutrition.
Many people are unaware they have Metabolic Syndrome or (Syndrome X), even though statistics indicate 1 in 4 Australians may have the disorder. Metabolic Syndrome is characterized by having at least three of the following signs and symptoms:
- Insulin Resistance (when the body can’t absorb blood sugar or respond to insulin properly)
- Abdominal fat: >102cms in Males and >88 cms in female
- High blood sugar levels after fasting
- High triglycerides in the bloodstream
- Low HDL (the “good” cholesterol)
- Pro-thrombotic state/ inflammation (e.g. high C reactive protein in the blood)
- Blood pressure of 130/85 mmHg or higher
The underlying causes of Metabolic Syndrome are, being overweight, physical inactivity and genetic factors. How did we stop burning fat and keep storing it? Our bodies were developed for fight and flight based survival. Our physiological response to stress is to release sugar from the liver in a process called glycolysis (‘glyc’ means stored glucose, ‘lysis’ means break apart). This sugar is then picked up by the insulin taxi sent into the bloodstream from the pancreas. The insulin (sugar transporter) is circulated to the muscle cells of the limbs to provide energy for fight and flight. The muscle cells open a docking bay or receptor for the insulin taxi to unload its sugar into the cell. The problem is that we are not running from dinosaurs or fighting for hunting territory with the tribe next door. We are largely sedentary and our stressors are largely manufactured.
We may be sitting at a traffic light, running late for a meeting and thinking about speaking to our children harshly in the rush to get out the door at all that morning. Our body is still releasing the sugar fuel for running from or fighting the perceived stressor however we are sedentary in our car and the sugar is not needed by our muscle cells. Feeding a cell sugar when it has no use for the energy is a little like feeding a steam train’s engine coal when it is stationary. If you keep chugging the coal into the engine and the engine cannot release the heat produced, then the engine will eventually blow up.
The cell must release heat as a by-product of energy production so if you keep feeding it sugar whilst sedentary then it too will blow up or self-combust. The cell, of course does not want to combust so it defends itself by locking its docking bay and stopping insulin docking into a receptor site. Insulin then is forced to take the sugar back to the chemical boss, the liver and the liver stores the sugar as fat on your abdomen or thighs or glycogen. Glycogen is a form of quickly available sugar stored in the liver should the body require it.
The more stress we experience the more our cells become insulin resistant. This results in our cells metabolism becoming sluggish and our energy waning. What do we crave when we are low in energy? Energy-dense foods. So off we go and eat a sugar or grain dense meal such as a muffin or chocolate or bowl of cereal. The sugar cannot transport effectively into the cell however and so is turned into fat. The more stressed we become, the more meals we miss which also leads to a further reduction in metabolic processes and the vicious cycle of insulin resistance ensues.
Male Andropause and female menopause further complicate the issues with a horrendous reduction in human growth hormones and dhea. These hormones balance cortisol’s effect when we are younger. As we get older these ’youth’ hormones decrease. Cortisol, the stress hormone produced by our adrenal glands under fight and flight is an extremely acidic chemical and creates a huge amount of free radical damage. This free radical damage creates the need for huge amounts of nutrition but because we are so energy drained we are usually eating energy dense, nutrient poor foods such as ready-made pasta, chips and bread.
The pH of the bloodstream and fluid around your cells must be maintained in order for cells to function and survive. When your body produces a great deal of Cortisol, the parathyroid glands become active producing calcium, in order to maintain pH and nervous system balance. Calcium is a sedatory chemical and slows nerve cell production. When the parathyroid is overworking the thyroid is under working as these glands oppose each other or antagonize each other. So when we are stressed the body tries to alkalize us and maintain chemical equilibrium by slowing our thyroid and as a consequence our metabolism!
This is essentially how we become fatter and fatter and at the bottom of it all is stress, poor diet, poor habits and lack of movement. Symptoms of metabolic syndrome and unstable blood sugar levels include:
- Fatigue (especially mid-morning and midafternoon).
- Irritability and mood swings
- Lapses in concentration, vagueness, (Brain fog).
- Cravings for carbohydrates especially sweets or chocolate or bread.
- Insatiable appetite, constant hunger.
- Dizziness and shakiness which improves for eating.
- Inability to lose weight (yo-yo dieting).
How do we fix metabolic syndrome?
Firstly, we need to get the cells to burn sugar as fuel again. We need to open the receptor site on the cell wall to receive the sugar fuel. This is done using chromium and manganese supplementation. The cells metabolic processes also need switching on with nutrients. These are pumped into the cell via the cell membrane channels. The cell membrane becomes worn out and inefficient over time but is regenerated with long chain fats such as those found in fish oils. Fish oils also help to buffer the acidifying effect of Cortisol and are thermogenic, meaning they help to burn fat.
Next we need to support the liver to perform gluconeogenesis which we do with herbs, diet or supplementation depending on your liver function results. Next we need to get the liver burning as much fat as possible. We use an amazing herb called coleus to achieve this. See ‘micronutrients’. We also need to make sure that the liver is forced into gluconeogenesis which means we have to starve the blood of any quick sources of sugar from dietary sources. This means no sugar whatsoever and no grains at all.
The final part of the solution is to battle stress hormones Cortisol with alkalizing nutrients such as magnesium and its natural enemy, endorphins. Endorphins are released by the bucket load when we move our bodies so incorporating movement is a vital part of the solution and also contributes to burning off fat stores for good. We use a pedometer as well as personalised movement prescription to fulfil this part of the equation without you needing to join expensive gyms or experience grueling work outs.