By Gladys Kublik
Owner Neighbors Vitamin Shop
Our growing population is big news – not in a good way. Our waistlines are growing steadily, not only ours but our children’s and grandchildren’s also. It is NOT good news. It is frightening news! Obesity brings an onslaught of health problems currently lumped together under the term metabolic syndrome – a group of risk factors that occur together and increase the risk for coronary artery disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. We are familiar with these diseases and associate them with the elderly. These days, however, the risk factors for these diseases are being found in young people, even in children.
What is causing this syndrome? Insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is not a disease as such but rather a state or condition in which a person’s body tissues have a lowered level of response to insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas that helps to regulate the level of glucose (sugar) in the body. As a result, the person’s body produces larger quantities of insulin to maintain normal levels of glucose in the blood. There is considerable individual variation in sensitivity to insulin within the general population, with the most insulin-sensitive persons being as much as six times as sensitive to the hormone as those identified as most resistant. Some doctors use an arbitrary number, defining insulin resistance as a need for 200 or more units of insulin per day to control blood sugar levels. Various researchers have estimated that 3-16 per cent of the general population in the United States and Canada is insulin-resistant; another figure that is sometimes given is 70-80 million Americans. When our body uses insulin less effectively than normal, blood sugar and fat levels rise putting our health at risk.
Why are our bodies experiencing Insulin resistance? The Mayo Clinic states “Insulin resistance probably involves a variety of genetic and environmental factors. Some people may be genetically prone to insulin resistance, inheriting the tendency from their parents. But being overweight and inactive are major contributors.” Certain drugs alter the body’s metabolism causing weight gain, hypothyroidism also causes lethargy and weight gain.
What are the best treatments for Insulin resistance? Prevention first and foremost – keep your weight down throughout your life and many of the elderly diseases will pass you by. A study team from the French research institute INSERM published the result of a study in the journal Neurology. Results of their 10-year study, begun in 1991 and sampling 6,400 participants, found that those who were both obese and metabolically abnormal showed a 22.5 per cent faster decline in memory and thinking skills than those who maintained a normal weight.
With a very practical approach to obesity, we all need to look carefully at what we are eating. Every successful diet protocol from the PH Diet, the Detox Diet, Eat for Your Blood Type Diet, even the Low Carb, High Protein Diet all address the quality and quantity of the food consumed. First is the emphasis on raw fruits and vegetables, both capable of alkalizing the body and cleansing. Greens supplements of all varieties help to alkalize the system and provide much needed vitamins and minerals.
The body also needs an adequate supply of good quality protein to support muscle development. If you have muscle mass you will burn more calories rather than storing them as fat. The more muscle you have the more calories you burn, the more weight you lose, the more your body can utilize insulin and use sugars rather than storing them. All this muscle doesn’t just come from eating protein; you either use it or lose it, which is especially important for young people. Get off the couch and build some muscle – walk, bike, run, jump, dance – any kind of movement builds muscle, especially heart muscle.
The answer to the problem really lies on our plate. You know – you are what you eat! Eat well – not lots.