BABS HOGAN’S COMMENTARY: February 27, 2019
Article title: THE HIDDEN PROBLEM OF CHRONIC HYPERINSULINEMIA
Publisher: WISE TRADITIONS, FALL 2018
Author: AMY BERGER, MS, CNS, NTP
“Science is what we do to keep us from lying to ourselves.” Richard P. Feynman
INTRODUCTION: A BRIEF BACKGROUND
Just look around. Go to shopping malls, sports stadiums, opera concerts, fishing tournaments, or city parks. Even for a casual observer, it’s obvious. Sadly, it not only affects adults, children have it too. What is it? Type 2 diabetes. This is my commentary on an important article, written by Amy Berger. Correction: It’s a vitally important article. My version simplifies complex terms for non-scientist readers. Most 9th graders will understand it.
MedicineNet.com defines Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) as the “type in which the beta cells of the pancreas produce insulin but the body is unable to use it effectively because the cells of the body are resistant to the action of insulin.”
The pancreas is an organ located below the liver and near the stomach. (See image 1, WebMD) It is part of the digestive system that helps break down foods. It produces insulin, a hormone that regulates the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood. When you drink a sugary soft drink, your blood sugar rises for awhile. In a healthy person, insulin removes sugar from the blood, helping to put it in muscles and other tissues to use as energy. Job done.
If you have insulin resistance, your cells will have trouble absorbing glucose, requiring your body to produce more insulin to function properly. This is where the problem starts. If your pancreas struggles to produce enough insulin to handle the glucose in your body, your blood sugar level can become mildly elevated and you may develop prediabetes. When your blood sugar stays at a level higher than normal for years at a time, full-blown T2D results. How long does it take to develop this disease? About ten years. What food causes this? A constant consumption of carbohydrates, especially sugary food.
For decades, diabetics were treated with daily insulin shots and pills. Sometimes doctors prescribed multiple medications to control erratic blood sugar. In the Foreword of a recent book, Nina Teicholz writes, “These techniques for managing diabetes are expensive, invasive, and do nothing to reverse diabetes—because, as Dr. Jason Fung explains in The Diabetes Code, you can’t use drugs (or devices) to cure a dietary disease.” Did you catch that? Drugs can’t cure a food-related disease? But that is exactly what we need to know right now.
Until 2018, T2D was considered a life-long, irreversible disease, with the focus on maintenance. Today, most people view it as a non-curable condition. The thought was once you get it, you’ll eventually die with it. Even more strange is that, for decades, mainstream diabetes institutions and organizations have not recognized the potential role of nutrition in the treatment. The American Dietetic Association (ADA) promotes the consumption of 45-60 grams of carbohydrates per meal and recommend that 45 percent of calories come from carbohydrates. How many grams of carbs day? 135-230. (Source: Healthline.com.) These recommendations are based on outdated science. The ADA needs an overhaul. Based on recent studies, consuming this amount of carbohydrate is a kind of slow suicide.
Amy Berger’s work is new to my radar. I’ve been so busy reading other articles and books by other Nutrition Warriors, sadly, I’m just now getting to know her. A few months ago, I watched her interview with Dr. David Perlmutter, as they discussed her book, The Alzheimer’s Antidote. I was drawn to the way she connects specific nutrients to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. She speaks clearly and is an effective teacher, so I decided to study this article.
This commentary will discuss an article published last fall, by Wise Traditions, titled THE HIDDEN PROBLEM OF CHRONIC HYPERINSULINEMIA. Wait! Keep reading because although the title sounds complicated, it is easy to understand once we define a few more terms and break it down. We’ve already seen “insulin” mentioned eight times in the introduction, we know what T2D means, and are aware of the role of the pancreas. So, we are off to a good start.
WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?
The Center for Disease Control monitors the number of new cases of diabetes. Statisticians (math experts) call this Incidence. The number of existing cases is called Prevalence, so look at the blue line in this image. It looks like the trend began a steeper spike around 1996. In 2015, 30.3 million Americans, at age 18 and older, had diabetes. In 1958, 1.5 million had the disease. About 193,000 Americans under age 20 are estimated to have diagnosed diabetes, approximately 0.24% of that population. Note: The following chart represents both types of diabetes. (Source: https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pdfs/library/diabetesreportcard2017-508.pdf)
DIABETES FACTS (both types)
1. Total: 30.3 million people have diabetes (9.4% of the US population)
2. Diagnosed: 23.1 million people
3. Undiagnosed: 7.2 million people (23.8% of people with diabetes are undiagnosed)
PRE-DIABETES FACTS (both types)
1. Total: 84.1 million adults aged 18 years or older have prediabetes (33.9% of the adult US population)
2. 65 years or older: 23.1 million adults aged 65 years or older have prediabetes
Note: My comments are seen in black; excerpts from Amy’s original article are typed in bold, black and in quotes.
WHAT IS CHRONIC HYPERINSULINEMIA?
You know that “chronic” means on-going, consistent, long-term. If you’ve ever had bronchitis, you may have been surprised at how long your cough lasted, even weeks after you returned to your normal activities. You felt fine, but the cough persisted. “Hyper” means experiencing a high amount of something, like when you were over-exited, or keyed up. Think about the last time you went to a sports event and your team won in the last minute of the game. You were hyper! “Hyperinsulinemia” means the presence of an abnormally high concentration of insulin in the blood.
Amy Berger is a gifted writer. Early in the article, she makes this powerful statement: “Research indicates that health can become compromised even when blood sugar is below the cutoffs but is still higher than normal.”
What does that mean? When you test your blood sugar and find that the number is in the normal range or slightly high, don’t think that you’re in the safe zone. Potential health problems that are linked to chronically high blood sugar are blindness, kidney failure, nerve damage, and heart disease, to name a few. She warns us about looking at blood glucose only. There’s more to the story. She writes: “In fact, the single-minded focus on glucose (blood sugar) has eclipsed what may be an even more important part of metabolic health: insulin.” This statement is the theme of the entire article. Don’t miss it.
In the next section, she discusses various tests that doctors use to decide if you have T2D, a process called medical diagnosis. Most of us are familiar with only one where you prick your finger to get a drop of blood, put it on a test strip, insert it into a small computer, and in a minute, your blood glucose level shows up on the screen. This is usually done in a fasting state—meaning, you don’t eat or drink anything twelve hours before the test is done. The doctor then tells you what the optimal range is, what is low, and what is high. From there, you get a diagnosis. However, other tests are important to have done in addition to fasting blood glucose.
The American Diabetes Association uses three tests: 1) fasting blood glucose, which we’ve discussed, 2) hemoglobin A1c, 3) oral glucose tolerance test. These tests measure blood glucose only. In this commentary, I have chosen not to explain these in detail. Instead, I want to zoom in on the one that Amy believes is missing: The Kraft Test. Dr. Joseph Kraft was a medical doctor, researcher, and pathologist. He tested insulin levels in over 14,000 subjects and wrote a book about it in 2008.
She says that “chronically high insulin is the culprit in many serious health problems, even when glucose is normal.” Along these lines, Dr. Kraft viewed T2D as a “hidden” disease, if insulin itself isn’t measured. He was convinced that millions of people have the disease without knowing it. That’s a bold statement, isn’t it? Let’s look at the numbers. Go to the previous page and look at DIABETES FACTS. See: Undiagnosed: 7.2 million people (23.8% of people with diabetes are undiagnosed) AND, 84.1 million adults aged 18 years or older have prediabetes. What do these folks need to get an accurate diagnosis? Yes, that’s right—an insulin test.
WHAT IS INSULIN RESISTANCE?
In my introduction, I wrote: If you have insulin resistance, your cells will have trouble absorbing glucose, requiring your body to produce more insulin to function properly. This is where the problem starts. If your pancreas struggles to produce enough insulin to handle the glucose in your body, your blood sugar level can become mildly elevated and you may develop prediabetes. When your blood sugar stays at a level higher than normal for years at a time, full-blown T2D results. When your body builds up a tolerance to insulin, the hormone is less effective. Medical experts also call this “impaired insulin sensitivity” or “metabolic syndrome.”
WHAT ABOUT BODY WEIGHT?
Amy surprised me with this: “Something else to keep in mind is that while insulin resistance is often associated with being overweight or obese, millions of people at a normal body weight…may have chronically high insulin and be at risk for serious health problems.” So skinny people can have this problem too. If you read the entire article, you may have noticed that she uses the word “serious” several times. When writers repeat words, they’re trying to get the reader’s attention, as if they were gently tapping us on the shoulder, whispering “pay attention.” I appreciate her style.
The following illnesses are food-related. She lists potential problems. “Here are some of the many conditions associated with chronic hyperinsulinemia, even when glucose is normal:”
1) High blood pressure
3) Heart disease
5) Alzheimer’s disease
Okay, let’s connect some dots. Since T2D develops in approximately ten years, it is important to establish healthy habits early in life. Let’s say you have a five-year-old son who eats a highly- processed, high-carbohydrate diet, and has a sweet tooth more intense than his grandmother’s. At age fifteen, his diet puts him at a greater risk of developing T2D. For decades, this condition affected mostly older people and was known as “adult onset diabetes.” Today, young children are developing it! Toddlers too! Thankfully, T2D is reversible, but it can only be reversed with a specific strategy.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT HYPERINSULINEMIA:
She points to an “extremely effective approach—reducing dietary carbohydrates.” She writes, “Using a reduced carbohydrate diet to lower insulin levels means cutting way back on even the carbohydrates we might otherwise consider nutritious, such as potatoes, properly prepared grains, beans, and fruit.” This approach is especially effective if a person already has metabolic issues. Other factors that influence insulin levels:
1) Frequent snacking on carbohydrates and protein foods
2) Exercise and physical activity
3) Sleep deprivation
She finishes with a discussion about relying on drugs to treat or cure the disease. I like this analogy. “Using drugs to treat dietary diseases creates an endless downward spiral, inevitably leading to ever more severe derailment of health. It’s like putting a piece of electrical tape over your car’s check engine light: You can’t see the light anymore, but that doesn’t mean you fixed the problem that was making it go on. You can’t medicate away dietary diseases.”
(End of commentary)
Amy Berger is a U.S. Air Force veteran, certified nutrition specialist and nutritional therapy practitioner. Her blog is at www.tuitnutrition.com. She is the author of The Alzheimer’s Antidote: Using a Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet to Fight Alzheimer’s Disease, Memory Loss, and Cognitive Decline. Her Twitter name is @tuitnutrition. Watch videos on her YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmDz-SYYhoerycynsCm7L8g/videos
READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE:
WHAT ABOUT CHEESE? (this is separate from Amy’s article)
Of course, the Healthy Cheese Lady has recommendations. By now, you understand the need to make wiser food choices, so what do I recommend?
1) Drastically reduce intake of sugar, highly-processed carbohydrates
2) Consume high-quality, full-fat, aged cheeses
3) Avoid sweetened yogurt. Look for full-fat varieties.
4) Cheese is the ultimate food for kids because they love it and can eat it with their fingers.
NOTE: Hard, aged cheese has less sugar than young, soft cheese. Three examples:
Cheesemakers: Eric and Karen Tippit
Location: Meridian, Texas
Name of cheese: Manos De Dios
Description: “Manos De Dios (translates as Hand of God) – A proprietary recipe semi-hard washed curd cheese made in the Majarero mould hand rubbed in olive oil and Pimenton and aged a minimum of 2 months. This cheese was created on the fly one day when the electronics to the immersion heaters of our cheese Vat failed during a cheese make. The cheese make was documented and the cheese was aged. When the time came to taste it, we decided we liked it so much we added it to our lineup.”
Cheesemaker: Marc Kuehl
Location: Waco, Texas
Name of cheese: Horseradish Pecan Cheddar
Description: “Brazos Valley Cheese is dedicated to crafting all-natural, high quality, healthy cheese using traditional methods and no artificial flavors, preservatives or coloring. Our milk comes from grass-fed cows that graze freely on three local Brazos River Valley Jersey/Brown Swiss dairies that do not use growth hormones or antibiotics. The high butterfat content of this milk makes rich, yellow, creamy cheeses that are used by the finest chefs and sold at the best retail shops in Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Austin and Houston. Every one of our cheeses is made with raw cow’s milk and all the hard cheeses are aged in our underground cheese cave.”
Cheesemaker: Mary Quicke
Location: Devon, England
Name of cheese: Oak Smoked Clothbound Cheddar
Description: “Handcrafted using heritage starters by our expert cheesemakers, clothbound and naturally matured, typically for 9-12 months. Cold smoked using oak chips from trees grown on our estate for a subtle smoky, buttery flavour.” This cheese is made from cow’s milk.
For more information about diabetes, watch this short video: EPISODE 1: January 30, 2019