Insulin is Easy - Dr. Roe's Poisoned Foods Part 2
Poster: Daniel Roe @ Mon Jan 05, 2009 6:12 pm
Last time on poisoned foods, I explained how PhDs are full of crap, and how it is that this comes to effect doctors and their advice to patients (you).
Unfortunately, this time I'm going to have to get a little bit more scientific on you. Sorry for the diversion, but once you understand at least some of the science behind metabolism, you too will be able to "call bullshit" on the PhDs. They'd like to keep science confined to the narrow confines of their tiny pinheads, but the reality is that science is for everybody, and it doesn't take an especially smart person (or someone who just thinks they're smart, in the case of the PhD) to come to conclusions based on scientific fact.
First, we're going to talk about insulin. If you get nothing out of this article, you should associate insulin with weight gain. So if I were to say that "this food stimulates insulin release", you would say ....? ...? That's right! it makes you fat!
Insulin, under normal circumstances, is created and released by the pancreas usually, BUT NOT ALWAYS [ -- Note this], in response to a rise in blood sugar. The insulin is merely a SIGNALING hormone that tells your muscles, fat cells, etc, to take up sugar from the blood (sugar is actually converted to fat in the liver and dumped into the blood, then the fat cells take it up and grow plump). These muscle/fat/liver cells are primed and ready to suck up the free sugar. As soon as insulin gives the go-ahead, *FOOM* the sugar is burned / stored like an inferno from that movie Backdraft. This is why when diabetics inject insulin and forget to eat, they can put themselves into a fucking coma™ due to lack of blood sugar.
So, to kind of summarize: in the same way that 'roids tell your pecs to turn into a couple of chest-hams and balls to turn into peanuts, insulin tells your ass to get fat and your belly to inherit the Earth.
You may have heard of insulin resistance. I'm not going to cover that here in detail, but it's incredibly important to understand:
- Insulin resistance is caused by hormones released by fat cells in the belly and it forces the pancreas to secrete more insulin to compensate. The fatter you are, the more resistant you are, and the more insulin your pancreas releases;
- The liver is immune to the resistance hormone, so while muscles aren't eating and burning the sugar, the liver's responding to the high insulin levels by going crazy turning the sugar it into fat, leading to weight gain and even hunger! Therefore, in a person with insulin resistance, more ingested sugar is going to be converted into fat than in a person without resistance.;
- Eventually, the give-and-take between insulin and the resistance hormones may result in the pancreas being overworked, damaged, and eventually being unable to compensate. This condition is known as Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus [Pro tip: This is how most diabetics acquire their condition.];
- Often, the pancreas will get so chewed up that the person can give themselves a big fat case of Type 1 Diabetes, meaning that even after the person loses the resistance-hormone-secreting fat cells (think treadmill), they will still have overly high blood sugar.
Almost everyone has some small amount of fat cells making them insulin resistant. We're going to assume that you haven't gotten to the point of extreme insulin resistance... yet. However, insulin is still a great barometer to determine how fat something's going to make you. Remember, MORE INSULIN = MORE FAT.
Now that you've learned the magic of insulin, you're probably wondering how you're going to use your newfound knowledge to control your weight.
Sadly, there's no way around this: Carbohydrates stimulate insulin release. I know, it's sad, but those low carb numb-nuts actually had a point. Atkins is an extreme example, but really any amount of carbohydrate abstention helps.
You might be asking: "So how does my bagel become sugar in my blood? It doesn't taste sweet, it must not have sugar!" You know what it takes to turn starch into sugar? Saliva (spit). Starch (the main source of carbs from wheat, rice, corn, potatoes, and others) is actually just a whole crapload of sugar linked together in a weak chain. One tiny snip by an enzyme (present in saliva and elsewhere) and a little bit of water added and they turn into single-monomer sugar molecules that float into your intestine cells just as fast as a Jolly Rancher candy.
Carbs are pretty much all the same. The only difference is what other food you mix it with to change the peak and duration of the sugar high. FYI: Though I wont go into too much detail on it, the peak and duration of the sugar high is called the "Glycemic Index."
The fact is, carbohydrates have ZERO nutritional value outside of providing energy for cells. If you're overweight, you already have more than enough energy in your body to burn for a while. Therefore, you don't actually require any carbohydrates if you have sufficient fat stores.
By contrast, in order to burn ingested protein, the body actually has to tune down the insulin and increase levels of the antagonistic hormone glucagon.
A study done of Atkins dieters found that they routinely consumed fewer calories than those not on the diet. The rules don't say they have to do this, but the dieters found they were compelled to eat less due to the the satiety caused by the foods they ate due and due to the lack of an insulin-induced blood sugar dip (which leads to people getting hungry again quickly after carb-rich meals).
The brain, unfortunately, loves to eat sugar. It cannot eat fat directly, so the only choices are ultra tasty sugar and unpleasant, slow burning, ketone bodies, which is like leaving your brain stranded on a desert island with nothing but mulchy disgusting powerbars for eternity--you're alive, you're technically healthy, but you wish you weren't.
That's why a lot of diets simply encourage cutting back on carbohydrates and not eliminating them. The goal is to burn stored energy, so don't be a fool and introduce more energy into the system than you have to, however, keep in mind the only diet that works is one that you can stick to. Carb cravings can drive you nuts, so cutting back may be more to your liking than abstaining completely.
No Fat? No Deal!
You're probably wondering: if the goal is to consume less energy, why not ditch the energy-rich fatty foods instead of that tasty CocaCola? After all, Fat has about twice the calories per weight than carbohydrates, and it can dissolve directly from the food, float right through the intestinal wall, and fly right into that adipose tissue on your already overly-plump posterior.
The fact is: if you're overweight, you're probably already insulin resistant. If you're insulin resistant, more of the carbohydrates you eat go into making fat than being burned by muscle (when compared to a normal person). Also, since the insulin levels are higher than normal in the resistant, the liver will be making fat out of the sugar long after your blood sugar has normalized. This will actually cause low blood sugar, making you even hungrier!
So, to summarize, with sugar: you eat, you spike your insulin, you crash, you feel hungry, you eat again.
"Okay!!" you say "But what about fat? You said you were going to talk about fat, stop stalling!!"
I only mention carbs so that you can keep it in mind when you compare it to fat:
- Fat does not spike insulin, period. It also increases satiety directly by release of special hormones.
- Fat decreases the rate your stomach empties into the small intestine, leaving you feeling "full" for longer and therefore decreasing your desire to eat
- Fat, when combined with a regular helping of carbohydrates, can actually reduce the rate at which it is absorbed, lowering the insulin spike. This reduces the 'crash' effect and therefore reduces the urge to eat again later.
- Fat is burned highly effectively by muscle, and does not increase lactic acid levels (so you can work out longer and harder than you can on sugar).
- Products that change recipes to gain their "low fat" moniker almost always raise sugar to compensate for taste. This decreases the satiety caused by the fat and increases the urge to eat again later due to the sugar
It's the combination of all these facts that lead many, including myself, to believe that the "low fat" diet craze is one of the prime reasons for America's obesity problem. Fat is not good for you, but it's a necessary addition to carbohydrates, and certainly not any worse. Fat may be more "energy dense" than carbs, but that hardly matters when you're eating three times the food twice as often because it's not filling you up, and it's making you more hungry.
For God's sake. Eat more fiber.
Fiber lowers the rate of absorption of carbs, so eat high-fiber bread.
Fiber increases satiety, so eat more fiber.
In the same way that sawdust is used to clear up oil spills, fiber absorbs fat and cholesterol in the gut and prevents absorption--decreasing blood cholesterol and therefore the risk of heart disease. So eat more fiber.
Fiber is incredibly important for GI health and prevents a long list of possible ailments including diverticulitis.
Perforated diverticulitis is where your colon blebs off, fills with puss, gets inflamed, and then pops. When it pops, it leaks out puss into your abdomen, sending you into septic shock. Your immune system goes nuts and starts telling your platelets to clot all over your body so you get little bloody patches on your skin and your internal organs. You start out with blistering fever but the shock is so bad you don't have enough blood to fill your vessels so you get very cold. In the event you survive, you have severe damage to every organ in your body including your brain. This isn't something that takes long to develop, either. The patient I first saw this in was 30. So you're going to eat your fiber now, right?
Oh, fiber also prevents colon cancer. Heard of it? Yeah, fiber's the most important factor in preventing colon cancer behind genetics, so eat more fiber.
Fiber has somewhere between zero and almost zero calories, so why the hell aren't you eating it? Shut up, I know you aren't.
I'm only going to say a few words on protein. First of all, you've probably heard that the Atkins "high protein" diet causes kidney problems. Most of the hubbub about this was from exaggerated claims made by puppet organizations setup by PETA (a pro-animal and therefore anti-high protein diet organization).
Even if that were true: Far and away, the #1 and 2 causes for for kidney failure in the US are Obesity and Tobacco (I don't know which is #1, sorry). Being fat is way worse for you, stop making excuses! Having diabetes is going to eat your kidneys faster than any steak, even that one John Candy ate in "The Great Outdoors."
Luckily, it's not actually true. High protein diets will not wreck your kidneys... unless you're dumb, but dumb people run into trouble with many things.
One of the results of increased protein in the diet is an increase in ammonia (ammonium, actually, but it's almost the same) concentration in the urine. This is normal and natural in animals, and the ammonia in the urine of animals is a necessary part of the ecosystem. If you were to somehow eliminate all the ammonia from the waste of all the living things around the world, it would literally end most life on earth in a matter of months.
If the world ends, what's the body count on Panda bears?? Take that, PETA!!
Alright, fine: Theoretically, higher ammonia concentrations are bad. It may have actually resulted in one or two people suffering some problems. That's why we're going to drink more water, which lowers the concentration of ammonia to safer levels, right?
If you're losing weight, you should be drinking more water anyway. Just add another little bit if you choose to augment your diet by eating more protein.
Protein does not increase insulin. In fact, you need to lower insulin just to convince cells to burn protein as fuel.
Protein also increases satiety, meaning you feel full faster.
When insulin and sugar levels are low, the body makes new sugar (to feed the brain, heart, and red blood cells). It sucks ass at this. I mean it's pathetic. Animals are terrible sugar-makers, and they know it. That's why they only do it when they're hungry. In order to make sugar, the body combines protein with stored fat. The body stores fat, but it doesn't "store" protein, so it has to cannibalize itself to get it. With low insulin levels, muscle protein is broken down. This is why when people lose a lot of weight, they tend to lose muscle mass as well.
With a high protein diet, instead of burning muscle, your body will use the dietary protein, leaving the muscle intact. It's actually been proven that high protein dieters end up with more muscle mass after they lose weight than people who diet without high protein.
When losing weight, you probably want to eat more protein and definitely want to drink a lot more water. Higher protein will keep more muscle and may allow for faster weight loss.
As an aside, it's not a choice between the Atkins "I ate Bambi's Mom" diet and the Vegan "Suck my Potatoes" diet. That's the kind of binary PhD nonsense that you see all over the literature on this. Some sources on this subject made it seem like you couldn't even eat oranges because it made Dr. Atkins hit-list. It went on to complain that this meant all higher protein diets resulted in scurvy, and that this was the reason "all low carb diets are bad." I'd just like to say that I can eat whatever 'the fuck I want, thanks very much. Yes, it's possible to eat lots of healthy foods, eat fewer carbs, and consume more protein all in the same meal, or at least in the same diet.
Diet Sweets: The Devil You Don't
I wanted to conclude this edition of Poisoned Foods with something definitive and instructive, but really everything I've told you so far is solid fact, and why start pointless controversy by mentioning specifics?
However, one of the things I can say specifically is: avoid artificial sweeteners. No, this is not a "maybe just a tiny bit" situation. Just don't.
Recently, a team of researchers discovered what many of us have already known: artificial sweeteners increase insulin levels.
Unfortunately, the study only tested Nutrisweet (present in nearly all sugar-free gums and beverages). We'll assume (because let's face it: it's true) that this applies to all artificial sweeteners, not like it matters because if we can get people to stop drinking diet coke, the world's going to be a better place hands down.
Side note: I wrote a report for my organic chemistry class on aspartame (nutrisweet). I may make the next edition entirely on that, you're gonna flip when you see the evil. EVVVVILLLLLL!!!
Remember when I said insulin decreases blood sugar in part by increasing the creation of fat? especially in people who are already fat? Hint: I said it like 10 times already.
YES: Diet drinks have no sugar, NO: You will not lose weight if you drink them.
Studies have definitively indicated that switching from regular soda to diet soda will not automatically lead to weight loss. Now you know why.
When you eat carbs, your blood sugar spikes, your insulin spikes, your blood sugar declines, you gain weight, you crash, you get hungry again.
When you consume artificial sweeteners, the exact same thing happens, only without the blood sugar spike. Artificial sweeteners make you hungry for real food, which you have to consume more of to make up for the blood sugar you've locked away into your fat cells.
Usually, these products mask some of the crash effect by being mixed in with caffeinated liquids. In the case of aspartame (nutrisweet), part of the molecule is actually converted into adrenaline (yes, that adrenaline). These effects may not be entirely obvious, but they are occurring.
I'm not saying you should switch from Diet Coke to Dr. Pepper. That would be stupid, now wouldn't it?
What I am saying is: if it tastes sweet, don't eat it if you want to lose weight. Especially soda.
In fact, there was a study done of childhood obesity. It found there was one unifying characteristic of most obese kids. We're talking undeniable correlation here. What was it? The one thing that commonly separates fat kids from skinny kids?: Soda.
That's it for this edition. Join us next time.
Keywords: Insulin Food Poison Diet Phd Pile Higher Deeper
• Post Comment
Tue Jan 06, 2009 7:18 am
That was a pretty enlightening post. I'll have to take more care now to pay attention to what is in the things I eat. Thanks for all the good info! Can't wait to read the next edition.
Wed Jan 07, 2009 10:41 pm
|Bio: Daniel Roe
Daniel is Medical Resident from the southwest US. Prior to medicine, he worked in IT as a consultant, programmer, web designer/developer, and technician.
Health, music, economics, libertarianism, computers