Chronic exposure to refined carbohydrates and simple sugars can cause elevated levels of insulin, which drives glucose levels down. This can result in hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Over time, tissues may become less sensitive to insulin and as a result glucose cannot enter the cells as easily. This means more glucose in the bloodstream and a greater tendency to convert it into fat instead of energy. Elevated insulin levels (hyperinsulinemia) cause the body to have difficulty breaking down fat also.
Indications of hyperinsulinemia include weight gain (especially around the waist, producing the apple shape, not the pear shape), increased blood pressure and cholesterol.
Although early baldness on the top of the head may be a non-modifiable risk factor for heart disease, it may serve as a useful clinical marker to identify men at increased risk of insulin problems and cardiac risk who would benefit from more detailed screening and lifestyle, dietary, nutritional and other interventive therapies. [Lancet September 30, 2000; 356: pp.1165-1166]
Preliminary research suggests that insulin resistance may play a role in the development of gout. Gout is strongly associated with the consequences of insulin resistance i.e. obesity, hypertension, hyperlipidemia and diabetes.
A study found that people who do not get enough sleep on a regular basis may become less sensitive to insulin which, over time, can raise the risk of obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. Chronic sleep deprivation (under 6.5 hours per night) had the same effect on insulin resistance as aging.
One of cortisol's undesirable effects is that it contributes to insulin resistance by decreasing the rate of glucose uptake, probably by blocking the insulin receptor. [J Clin endocrinol Metab 54 (1982): pp.131-8]
Syndrome X (Metabolic Syndrome) is the variable combination of obesity (usually central in distribution), insulin resistance with elevated insulin levels, high blood cholesterol and hypertension. Metabolic Syndrome causes Hyperinsulinemia. [Eckel RH, Grundy SM, Zimmet PZ (2005) The metabolic syndrome. Lancet 365: pp. 1415-1428]
Cinnamon with each meal helps keep insulin and blood sugar levels under control. The typical 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 teaspoon dose contains a phytochemical called methyl hydroxy chalcone polymer (MHCP) which improves cellular glucose utilization and increases the sensitivity of insulin receptors in laboratory studies. Personal testimonies indicate that this effect is seen in humans, but further study is required to confirm this.
A higher consumption of dairy products was associated with a reduced risk of insulin resistance (Syndrome X) in a study of 3,157 young adults followed for a 10 year period. [JAMA 2002;287(16): pp.2081-9]
Chromium picolinate supplementation at 1,000mcg per day over a 13-week period combined with exercise decreased total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and insulin levels in a recent small study of both males and females. [J Nutr Biochem, 1998;9: pp.471-5]
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