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Insulin and Its Metabolic Effects
By Ron Rosedale, M.D.
Let's talk about a couple of case histories. These are actual patients that I've seen; let's start with patient A. This patient who we will just call patient A saw me one afternoon and said that he had literally just signed himself out of the hospital "AMA," or against medical advice. Like in the movies, he had ripped out his IV's.
The next day he was scheduled to have his second by-pass surgery. He had been told that if he did not follow through with this by-pass surgery, within two weeks he would be dead.
........ To make a long story short, this gentleman right now is on no insulin. I first saw him three and a half years ago. He plays golf four or five times a week. He is on no medications whatsoever, he has no chest pain, and he has not had any surgery. He started an organization called "Heart Support of America" to educated people that there are alternatives to by-pass surgery that have nothing to do with surgery or medication.
........ And the common therapies for osteoporosis are drugs, and the common therapy for calaudication is surgery. For cancer reduction there is nothing. But all of these have a common cause.
The same cause as three major avenues of research in aging. One is called caloric restriction. There are thousands of studies done since the fifties on caloric restriction. They restrict calories of laboratory animals.
They have known since the fifties that if you restrict calories but maintain a high level of nutrition, called "C.R.O.N.'s:" Caloric restriction with optimal nutrition, or adequate nutrition, which would be CRAN"S, these animals can live anywhere between thirty and two-hundred percent longer depending on the species.
Then there are Centenarian studies. There are three major centenarian studies going on around the world. They are trying to find the variable that would confer longevity among these people. Why do centenarians become centenarians? Why are they so lucky? Is it because they have low cholesterol, exercise a lot, live a healthy, clean life?
Well the longest recorded known person who has ever lived, Jean Calumet of France who died last year at 122 years, smoked all of her life and drank.
What they are finding on these major centenarian studies is that there is hardly anything in common among them. They have high cholesterol and low cholesterol, some exercise and some don't, some smoke, some don't. Some are nasty as can be and some nice and calm and nice. Some are ornery, but they all low sugar, relatively for their age. They all have low triglycerides for their age.
And they all have relatively low insulin. Insulin is the common denominator in everything I've just talked about. They way to treat cardiovascular disease and the way I treated my stepfather, the way I treated the high risk cancer patient, and osteoporosis, high blood pressure, the way to treat virtually all the so-called chronic diseases of aging is to treat insulin itself.
The other major avenue of research in aging has to do with genetic studies of so-called lower organisms. We know the genetics involved. We've got the entire genes mapped out of several species now, of yeast and worms. We think of life span as being fixed, sort of.
Humans kind of have an average life span of seventy-six, and the maximum life-span was this French lady at one-hundred and twenty-two. In humans we feel it is relatively fixed, but in lower forms of life it is very plastic. Life span is strictly a variable depending on the environment. They can live two weeks, two years, or sometimes twenty years depending on what they want themselves to do, which depends very much on the environment.
If there is a lot of food around they are going to reproduce quickly and die quickly, if not they will just bide their time until conditions are better. We know now that the variability in life span is regulated by insulin.
..... If there is a single marker for lifespan, as they are finding in the centenarian studies, it is insulin, specifically, insulin sensitivity.
How sensitive are your cells to insulin. When they are not sensitive, the insulin levels go up. Who has heard of the term insulin resistance?
Insulin resistance is the basis of all of the chronic diseases of aging, because the disease itself is actually aging.
We know now that aging is a disease. The other case studies that I mentioned, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, obesity, diabetes, cancer, all the so-called chronic diseases of aging, auto-immune diseases, those are symptoms.
...... Now, the medical profession is continuously
segregating more and more symptoms into diseases, they call the symptoms
diseases. .... It is the same thing with
So what you have to do if you are going to treat any disease is you need to get to the root of the disease. If you keep pulling a dandelion out by it's leaves, you are not going to get very far. But the problem is that we don't know what the root is, or we haven't.
They know what it is in many other areas of science, but the problem is that medicine really isn't a science, it is a business, but I don't want to get in to that, we can talk hours on that. But if you really look at the root of what is causing it, we can use that cold as a further example.
Why does that person have a cold? If he saw the doctor, the doctor might tell him to take an antibiotic along with the decongestant. You see this all the time because the doctor wants to get rid of the patient. Well we all know that in almost all cases of an upper respiratory infection it is a virus, and the antibiotic is going to do worse than nothing because it is going to kill the bacterial flora in the gut and impair the immune system, making the immune system worse.
The patient might see someone else more knowledgeable
who will say no, you caught a virus, don't do anything, go home and sleep,
let your body heal itself. That's better. You might see someone else who
would ask why you caught a virus without being out there trying to hunt
for viruses with a net.
..... We've known for many years that sugar depresses the immune system. We have known that for decades. .... A blood sugar value of 120 reduces the phagocytic index seventy-five percent.
Here we are getting a little bit further down into the roots of disease. It doesn't matter what disease you are talking about, whether you are talking about a common cold or about cardiovascular disease, or osteoporosis or cancer, the root is always going to be at the molecular and cellular level, and I will tell you that insulin is going to have its hand in it, if not totally controlling it.
...... What is the purpose of insulin in humans? If you ask your doctor, they will say that it's to lower blood sugar and I will tell you right now, that is a trivial side effect. Insulin's evolutionary purpose, among others at least known right now, we are looking at others, is to store excess nutrients.
We come from a time of feast and famine and if we couldn't store the excess energy during times of feasting, we would all not be here, because we all have had ancestors that encountered famine. So we are only here because our ancestors were able to store nutrients, and they were able to store nutrients because they were able to elevate their insulin in response to any elevation in energy that the organism encountered.
When your body notices that the sugar is elevated, it
is a sign that you've got more than you need right now, you are not
burning it so it is accumulating in your blood. So insulin will be
released to take that sugar and store it. How does it store it? .... Saturated fat, ninety-eight percent of which is palmitic
So the idea of the medical profession to go on a high complex carbohydrate, low saturated-fat diet is an absolute oxymoron, because those high complex carbohydrate diets are nothing but a high glucose diet, or a high sugar diet, and your body is just going to store it as saturated fat. The body makes it into saturated fat quite readily.
..... Insulin also causes the retention of sodium, which causes the retention of fluid, which causes high blood pressure and fluid retention: congestive heart failure.
..... What does all of this do to the heart? Not very good things. There was a study done a couple of years ago, a good, down to earth nicely conducted study that showed that heart attacks are two to three times more likely to happen after a high carbohydrate meal. They said specifically NOT after a high fat meal.
Why is that? Because the immediate effects of raising your blood sugar from a high carbohydrate meal is to raise insulin and that immediately triggers the sympathetic nervous system which will cause arterial spasm, constriction of the arteries. If you take anybody prone to a heart attack and that is when they are going to get it.
You can slow the rate of aging. Not just even the rate of disease, but the actual rate of aging itself can be modulated by insulin. .... there is some pretty good evidence that even in humans we still retain the capacity to control lifespan at least partially. We should be living to be 130, 140 years old routinely.
If you have a carbohydrate that is not a fiber it is going to be turned into a sugar, whether it be glucose or not. It may be fructose ... , fructose is worse for you then glucose, so if you just go by blood sugar .... it doesn't mean that you are not raising your blood fructose.
..... Glucose combines with anything else really, it's a very sticky molecule. ....Just take sugar on your fingers. It's very sticky. It sticks specifically to proteins. ..... the term for glycation in the food industry is carmelization. They use it all the time, that is how you make caramel. So the way we age is that we turn rancid and we caramelize. It's very true. And that is what gets most of us. If that doesn't get us, then the genetic causes of aging will, because every cell in your body has genetic programs to commit suicide.
Let's get to diet. Diet really becomes pretty simple. Carbohydrates we started talking about. You've got fiber and non-fiber and that's real clear-cut. Fiber is good, non-fiber is bad. Fibrous carbs, like vegetables and broccoli, those are great.
What is a potato? A potato is a big lump of sugar. That's all it is. You chew a potato, what are you swallowing? Glucose. You may not remember, but you learned that in eighth grade, but the medical profession still hasn't learned that. .... What is a slice of bread? A slice of sugar. Does it have anything else good about it? Virtually no. .... And there are fifty-some essential nutrients to the human body.
.......... What is the minimum daily requirement
for carbohydrates? ZERO.
..... Those are the two essential reasons that we need to eat. We need the building blocks and we need fuel, not the least of which is to have energy to obtain those building blocks and then to have energy to fuel those chemical reactions to use those building blocks.
So what are the building blocks that are needed, proteins and fatty acids. Not much in the way of carbohydrates. You can get all the carbohydrates you need from proteins and fats. So the building blocks are covered by proteins and fats.
.... What about fuel? That's the other reason we eat. There are two kinds of fuel that your body can use with minor exceptions, sugar and fat. We mentioned earlier that the body is going to store excess energy as fat. Why does the body store it as fat? Because that is the body's desired fuel. That is the fuel the body wants to burn and that will sustain you and allow you to live. The body can store only a little bit of sugar. .... In an active day you would die if you had to rely one-hundred percent on sugar.
Why doesn't your body store more sugar if it is so needed? Sugar was never meant to be your primary energy source. .... Sugar is meant to be your body's turbo charger. ..... The brain can actually exist without a whole lot of sugar, contrary to popular belief. Glucose was meant to be fuel used if you had to, in an emergency situation, expend and extreme amount of energy, such as running from a saber tooth tiger.
..... Vegetables are great, I want you to eat vegetables. The practical aspect of it is that you are going to get carbs, but there is no essential need. .... Fruit is a mixed blessing. ..... But most foods fall in the middle somewhere. Things like strawberries, you are going to get something bad with strawberries, you are going to get a lot of sugar with strawberries, but you are also going to get a food that is also the second or third highest in antioxidant potential of any food known, the first being garlic the second either being strawberries or blueberries. So, there is something good to be had from it. So I will let some patients put some strawberries in let's say a protein smoothie in the morning. But if they are a hard core diabetic, strawberries are out.
..... Most food is a double edged sword. .... Eating is the biggest stress we put on our body and that is why in caloric restriction experiments you can extend life as long as you maintain nutrition. This is the only proven way of actually reducing the rate of aging, not just the mortality rate, but the actual rate of aging, because eating is a big stress.
.... Your primary fuel should be coming from fat. ..... So you want to increase the ability of the cells in the body to burn fat. You want to make that glucose burner into a fat burner. You want to make a gasoline burning car into a diesel burning car.
..... With athletes, let's think about that. What is the effect of carbohydrate loading before an event. What happens if you eat a bowl of pasta before you have to run a marathon. What does that bowl of pasta do? It raises your insulin. What is the instruction of insulin to your body?
To store energy and not burn it. I see a fair amount of athletes and this is what I tell them, you want everybody, athletes especially, to be able to burn fat efficiently. So when they train, they are on a very low carbohydrate diet. The night before their event, they can stock up on sugar and load their glycogen if they would like.
.... In general, over 50% of the calories should come from fat, but not from saturated fat. ..... Saturated fat is a hard fat. We can get the fats from foods to come mostly from nuts. Nuts are a great food because it is mostly mono-unsaturated. Your primary energy source ideally would come mostly from mono-unsaturated fat. It's a good compromise. It is not an essential fat, but it is a more fluid fat. Your body can utilize it very well as an energy source.
..... Animal proteins are fine and are good for you, but not the ones that are fed grains. Grainfed animals are going to make saturated fat out of the grains. Saturated fat in nature occurs to a very tiny degree. Not in the wild there is very little saturated fat out there. If you talk about the Paleolithic diet, we didn't eat a saturated fat diet. Saturated fat diets are new to mankind. We manufactured a saturated fat diet by feeding animals grains. You can consider saturated fat to be second generation carbohydrates. We eat the saturated fats that other animals produce from carbohydrates.
...... I would go 20% of calories from carbs. Depending on the size of the person, 25 to 30% of calories from protein, and 60-65% from fat. You can get non-grain fed beef.
Insulin is not the only cause of disease. There are other considerations such as iron. We know that high iron levels are bad for you. If a person's ferritin is high, red meat is out for a while, till we get their iron down. SO there are other things involved about if we are going to allow a person to eat red meat or not.
There is a great deal of difference between a non-grain fed cow and a grain fed cow. Non-grain fed will have only 10% or less saturated fat. Grain fed can have over 50%.
There is a big difference. A non-grain fed cow will actually be high in Omega 3 oils. Plants have a pretty high percentage of Omega 3, and if you accumulate it by eating it all day, every day for most of your life, your fat gets a pretty high proportion of Omega 3. I would try for 50% oleic fat, and the others would depend on the individual, but about 25% of the other two.
..... I like sardines if they will eat them. Sardines are a very good therapeutic food. They are baby fish so they haven't had time to accumulate a bunch of metal. They are smoked so they are not cooked and the oil is not spoiled in them. You have to eat the whole thing. Not the boneless and skinless. You need to eat all the organs and they are high in vitamins and magnesium. .....
So if people are worried about chromosomal damage from chromium, what they should really be worried about instead is high blood sugar. Insulin is by far your biggest poison.
..... The lowering of insulin is going to be better than any possible detriment of any of the therapies you are using. Insulin is associated with cancer, everything.
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