By: Dr. Chantell Groenewald (M. Tech Hom UJ)
Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas in response to eating. Insulin's function is to store the energy from our food either as glycogen (stored in the liver and the muscles cells) or fat in adipose tissue stores.
Our cells require glucose (from the food that we eat) for energy. Insulin receptors on the cell surface act as a key-and-lock, binding with insulin in the blood to 'unlock' channels for glucose absorption into the cell. When cells become insulin resistant, our pancreas secretes more insulin in an attempt to absorb glucose into cells.
Increased visceral adipose tissue (central obesity) raises cortisol levels due to the high levels of inflammation caused by excessive inflammation markers secreted in adipose tissue. Cortisol is secreted to combat raised inflammatory markers. Cortisol (also known as the fight and flight hormone) directly inhibits the effects of insulin to ensure adequate levels of glucose during the fight and flight response. So chronically elevated cortisol causes cells to become insulin resistant, causing the pancreas to to increase insulin secretion . Now as I mentioned earlier, insulin serves to increase stored energy, so elevated levels of insulin favors fat deposition.
Fat cells = increased cortisol = insulin resistance = higher levels of insulin = increased fat deposition.
So, fat makes you fat.
Here are five tips to combat insulin resistance:
1. Intermittent fasting (IF).
Speak to your doctor to find out if this is an option for you. IF has been proven to reduce insulin resistance to increase your cells sensitivity to insulin.
2. Eliminate all forms of sugar from your diet, this includes honey, sweetners and sugar substitutes (non-nutritive sweetners such as aspartame).
3. Eliminate refined and fast releasing carbohydrates from your diet.
4. Avoid food that contain additives that can cause an insulin spike, this includes foods such as maltodexrin, corn syrup, high fructose syrup and maize/corn starch.
5. Eat a balanced diet with at least 7 servings of vegetables each day.
Remeber to include healthy fats such as coconut and olive oil and only use grass fed, organic, hormone free meat and animal products.
For more information, or to book an appointment for a weight loss assessment, please phone the NHCC on 0124609216.
Dr. Marike de Klerk