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    YogaBare's Avatar
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    Crazy little thing called Insulin

    Apologies in advance if this post is naive, or comes across like an insulin witch hunt. BUT, it seems that elevated insulin levels can cause:

    - Hypoglycemia
    - Insomnia
    - Depression
    - Rosacea and acne (as a result of inflammation)
    - Cellulite and stubborn belly fat (because it is a fat-storing hormone)
    - And can even trigger binge eating episodes (high insulin levels send a signal to your brain that you need to eat).

    There's counter arguments that say it inhibits protein muscle breakdown, curbs appetite, maintains blood sugar etc etc.

    Obviously it's a crucial hormone, or we wouldn't have it, but there seem to be many benefits in having it in the low range. Right?

    Normally when people talk about getting insulin levels under control they speak about what foods to cut out. But how about foods that actually lower your insulin? All I've found so far is:

    - Lemon eaten before a meal blunts the insulin response by lower the blood sugar response
    - Cinnamon does the same
    - Grapefruit has a compound that naturally reduces insulin levels

    Any additions / counters?

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    YogaBare's Avatar
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    And also, can anyone actually explain the coffee thing to me?! It causes blood sugar spikes / insulin spikes, or it burns fat?! How much does the drinking it black / with coconut milk / cream / milk change the chemical reaction in the body?

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    You are asking for the impossible ... name a food that when ingested does not signal to the body that it has been fed, because that is the principal role of insulin in metabolism.

    Being fed or not fed has a number of significant knock on metabolic effects, but essentially, insulin is a metabolic shout out to the body "you've been fed, do something about it." So, how do you feed without feeding? What is the sound of one hand clapping? If a donut falls in the forest but theres no one around to eat it what will it do to your blood sugar? All interesting questions, from a philosophical point of view, but answering them does not really provide us with actionable results.

    You want to lower insulin, you say? Best thing I know to do that : don't put anything in your mouth and sit back and watch as your insulin levels consistently drop from a peak induced by your last meal only to elevate again following your next one. Apart from that, the best thing you can hope for is to moderate the insulin response by selecting those foods that won't raise your insulin levels as high as others would. Your postprandial insulin levels will still increase, but just not as much. Unfortunately for you, these are foods that are not very nutrient dense ... think mostly plant leaves and anything apart from rice or pasta that would feature prominently on the cover of an "Eating Light" magazine. Now, I have nothing against plant leaves and vegetables, but sooner or later you need to add some real food to the mix in terms of nutrient density. Nutrient dense foods, like beef, do generate a rather significant insulin response, because they require metabolic assimilation, and that is driven by insulin.

    If you are trying to monkey about with insulin response by dousing everything in cinnamon and grapefruit juice, you are missing the point, I'm afraid. You are looking for a palliative measure to reduce your fever instead of asking why it is that you have a fever in the first place. This analogy falls apart because there are some potentially immediately fatal consequence of an extreme fever whereas hyperinsulinemia takes chronic exposure to do you in, but I hope it makes the point.

    For a number of reasons that I've repeatedly outlined in my IF posts, I eat a single meal per day. The principal rationale there is that I want to maximize my bang for my insulin buck. Rather than try to fight my metabolism ( God help us when we have websites like war on insulin ) by giving it a grapefruit head fake, I accept that I will have a post-prandial insulin spike with every meal because that is how my metabolism has evolved to function. But nowhere in my evolutionary background does it say that I must eat at 7:00 AM and again at 1:00 PM, only to repeat at 6:00 PM and incur the resulting insulin spikes and attendant effects thereof. Accordingly, I eat one meal, and make that one meal count.

    With respect to caffeine, I've posted something in another thread that pretty much answers your question, I believe. Let me know if you cannot locate it and I'll see about digging it up.

    -PK
    My blog : cogitoergoedo.com

    Interested in Intermittent Fasting? This might help: part 1, part 2, part 3.

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    pklopp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by YogaBare View Post
    And also, can anyone actually explain the coffee thing to me?! It causes blood sugar spikes / insulin spikes, or it burns fat?! How much does the drinking it black / with coconut milk / cream / milk change the chemical reaction in the body?
    Take a look here for a similar question / answers.

    -PK
    My blog : cogitoergoedo.com

    Interested in Intermittent Fasting? This might help: part 1, part 2, part 3.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pklopp View Post
    You are asking for the impossible ... name a food that when ingested does not signal to the body that it has been fed, because that is the principal role of insulin in metabolism.

    Being fed or not fed has a number of significant knock on metabolic effects, but essentially, insulin is a metabolic shout out to the body "you've been fed, do something about it." So, how do you feed without feeding?
    Thanks for the great response PK. This isn't about destroying insulin though - this is about trying to get the body to secrete a proportional amount of insulin to the food consumed. As I'm sure you know, people with reactive hypoglycemia over secrete insulin, and there are studies that show that the body can secrete insulin when just thinking about food! I'm looking for foods that can help balance the endocrine glands responsible for insulin so that it doesn't overshoot all the time.

    Read the link - very enlightening!

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    Quote Originally Posted by pklopp View Post
    ( God help us when we have websites like war on insulin )-PK
    Good reply pk, but what's wrong with Peter's blog? He's got some good stuff on there and is generally well researched. He changed the name of it by the way.. (Eating Academy).

    As far as the op, much depends on your insulin sensitivity level and things like your activity level, body composition and diet. Since you are on here, I assume you are good with the diet part--ie limiting processed foods and junk. So as pk says, from my experience, the best thing is meal timing and not snacking. Giving your body time to recover from meals is critical, whether that be through a fasting approach or just spacing your meals 4 to 5 hours apart and again, not snacking. As far as blunting your insulin response with thinks like lemon, I think that's to a large degree an individual thing so you have to try what works.

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    Quote Originally Posted by YogaBare View Post
    Thanks for the great response PK. This isn't about destroying insulin though - this is about trying to get the body to secrete a proportional amount of insulin to the food consumed. As I'm sure you know, people with reactive hypoglycemia over secrete insulin, and there are studies that show that the body can secrete insulin when just thinking about food! I'm looking for foods that can help balance the endocrine glands responsible for insulin so that it doesn't overshoot all the time.
    When it comes to insulin secretion, this is principally driven by two things: the glucose in the blood stream, and the GLUT2 glucose transporter in the pancreas which takes up plasma glucose and kicks off the metabolic cascade that culminates in insulin being secreted by the beta cells.

    The goal of all of this it to generally control blood sugar, with the specific goal of keeping it from going too high. A well functioning pancreas will secrete insulin to the extent that plasma glucose is elevated. Once plasma glucose reverts to physiologically "normal" levels, insulin secretion will drop and revert to baseline. If you succeed in interfering with the amount of insulin secreted, then you will succeed in keeping your blood glucose elevated for abnormal periods of time. This is not a good thing, and the medical community calls something very similar to this state non-insulin dependent ( type II ) diabetes.

    Reactive hypoglycemia is not a question of over secreting insulin, but rather a question of under secreting glucagon. In general, the post-prandial ( after eating ) pattern of pancreatic hormone secretion starts with insulin, and shortly after insulin levels spike, the pancreas secretes glucagon precisely to avoid a hypoglycemic state. All meals, with the exception of high carbohydrate meals, elicit this insulin / glucagon response. When it comes to high carbohydrate meals, since you are providing very large quantities of carbohydrate, your blood sugar never drops within the range where a compensatory glucagon and attendant hepatic glycogen release is necessary.

    If your goal here is to address reactive hypoglycemia, then you should probably consider meal frequency and carbohydrate contents. You would probably need to adopt a more frequent eating schedule, and would want to include complex carbohydrates that take a while to be assimilated. Of course, you can also affect the rate of carbohydrate uptake by making sure you have high fat meals which delay this process.

    Another alternative to try would be a ketogenic diet, which would result in physiological insulin resistance. Essentially, you force the tissues that can oxidize ketones to do so, leaving blood glucose alone for those tissues that can't. Note that this is the yin to the "proportional insulin response" yang. That is, instead of manipulating insulin secretion, you instead manipulate the response to secreted insulin.

    Lastly, as far as the cephalic insulin response goes ... academically interesting, but over hyped, in my opinion.

    -PK
    My blog : cogitoergoedo.com

    Interested in Intermittent Fasting? This might help: part 1, part 2, part 3.

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    Insulin doesn't make you fat. It never has, it never will. It's ridiculous to try to blunt it as protein often generates more insulin than carbohydrate (milk generates more insulin than sweet potatoes, Greek yogurt generates more insulin than white bread and beef generates more insulin than wheat bran, many beans or nuts). Eat real food that keeps you full. A potato isn't going to make you fatter than an avocado, and overeating ribeye is going to make you gain weight just like overeating ice cream will because you don't need insulin to store dietary fat as fat. It's mostly about caloric control. Eat real, whole foods that keep you full and make you feel best. If that's chicken and apples, do that. If that's beef and kale, do that. If it's salmon and sweet potatoes, do that. If it's eggs and sausage, do that. You get the idea. Just try and keep protein intake elevated because when you do overeat, you're more likely to gain the extra weight as lean muscle than fat.
    Last edited by ChocoTaco369; 08-06-2012 at 09:35 AM.
    Don't put your trust in anyone on this forum, including me. You are the key to your own success.

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    Eating pure fat doesn't raise your insulin much at all. As for adding food to lower your insulin, I don't think your body works that way. Your better option is to eat foods that keep insulin more even, at least if insulin control is an issue for you.

    I'm curious about the rosacea on your list. Where did you hear that? My boyfriend has ocular rosacea and he's pretty convinced that it's red meat and animal fat that causes it to get worse. But I've noticed with just about every disease, CW recommends not eating red meat. I think that's just their "speaking with one voice" messaging BS that the ADA, AHA and NIH are trying to achieve.
    Female, 5'3", 49, Starting weight: 163lbs. Current weight: 135 (more or less).
    I can squat 180lbs, press 72.5lbs and deadlift 185lbs

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    Catherine's Avatar
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    re: rosacea - i've been drinking about 6 oz of beet juice daily and i've noticed good improvements w/ my rosacea. But i don't have that ocular kind.

    (about 3 med beets + 1 apple + ginger + a few pineapple chunks - it's pretty tasty, i think the ginger helps a lot)

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