One of my recent patients, a 34-year-old man who works from home and consumes a diet high in sugar, refined carbohydrates and processed foods, is a prime example of how lifestyle choices can impact one’s overall health. During his medical examination, I discovered that his metabolic health was at risk due to his unhealthy lifestyle choices. The results were worrying. He had high levels of insulin resistance which meant his body was struggling to regulate blood sugar levels. He also had elevated triglycerides levels, low high-density lipoproteins (good cholesterol). He was at risk of developing obesity, type-2 diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, which are all linked to a diet and a sedentary lifestyle.
I explained to him that these lifestyle and diet changes are essential for his metabolic health. I advised him to reduce his carbohydrate intake and increase his consumption of proteins and natural fats. I also recommended adding vitamins such as B, C, D3, and E, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids, to promote proper bodily function. Additionally, I suggested he engage in daily exercise and reduce stress. Within three months, his parameters returned to normal, without any medication
Insulin plays a vital role in metabolism, primarily controlling blood sugar levels. However, when excess glucose is present in the bloodstream, insulin also acts as a fat-depositing hormone, leading to the accumulation of fat in adipocytes. Consuming food items that lead to high insulin spikes, such as sugary products, refined carbohydrates and easily available nutrient-deficient foods, exacerbates this process. Constantly elevated insulin levels cause cells to become resistant to its effects, ultimately leading to more fat deposition. In addition to fat deposition, insulin also stimulates the growth of arterial smooth muscle cells and causes the kidneys to retain excess fluid, increasing the risk of hypertension and heart disease.
In short, hyper-insulinemia/insulin resistance is a common denominator for metabolic diseases. At present, there are no pharmaceutical products available to decrease insulin levels. The only effective method to combat insulin resistance is through diet. Following three simple steps can help prevent or reduce insulin resistance:
1. Avoid or minimise the consumption of sugar, refined carbohydrates, packaged food, soft drinks and vegetable oils.
2. Reduce carbohydrate intake to around 100-130g (grams) per day (can be reduced further as per requirement), while increasing protein and natural fats from nutrient-dense, fresh, whole foods two meals a day.
3. Intermittent fasting and exercise at least three times per week.
Incorporating these simple and do-able steps into your daily routine can significantly improve your health.
As a doctor, I have seen many patients who struggle with maintaining a healthy lifestyle due to busy work schedules and sedentary lifestyles. The current pandemic has exacerbated this issue, with many people working from home and leading increasingly inactive lives. By reducing insulin resistance, you can mitigate the risk of chronic diseases and promote overall wellness.
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