Avoid Insulin Resistance to Age Well

Avoiding and reversing insulin resistance is possibly the single most important step you can take towards healthy ageing.

With our increasing life span, and the cumulative impact of the diet and lifestyle decisions we have made, everyone needs to pay attention to this and will need to work even harder at avoiding insulin resistance. This means being ‘open’ to a total reassessment of what you eat (even if it is very different to how you were brought up), and most probably making dramatic changes.

We now know from research that insulin resistance ends up damaging almost every cell in your body and is a fundamental cause of most Western 21st-century diseases. Reversing insulin resistance – or preferably making sure you don’t get it in the first place – is a fundamental key to healthy ageing because the implications of insulin resistance are not just that you will be overweight with high blood sugar.

Raised blood pressure and more fat (triglycerides) in the blood, as well as less of the good ‘HDL’ cholesterol, are also linked to insulin resistance and they lead to other health problems associated with ageing.

Changes in these in adolescence and early adulthood actually show brain shrinakge and increased dementia risk later in life.

In this report I’ll help you understand how important what you eat is, to your future ageing with a focus on prevention. Many people are eating too much sugar and refined carbohydrate without even realising it.

Sugar and Refined Carbohydrate – what it does

Why is sugar and refined carbohydrate (think white pasta, white rice, crisps, biscuits) such a problem? They push up your glucose level and you have to keep pumping out more insulin to send the excess amount in the blood to be stored as fat. Gradually the receptors for insulin become blunted through overuse and start to shut down, so you have to make more and more insulin. The more insulin you make, in response to eating carbohydrates or something sweet, the more insulin insensitive you become, so you have to make even more.

Your blood sugar level now stays too high for too long, damaging your arteries (think heart disease), kidneys and brain (think dementia), then, when the insulin finally kicks in, all that excess glucose is dumped into storage as fat, so you gain weight. Your blood sugar level then hits rock bottom, so you feel extremely tired, grumpy and hungry, and go hunting for more carbohydrates (or caffeine). Eventually when you are so insulin resistant your body is unable to bring your blood sugar level down, you develop diabetes. It’s a vicious circle.

Constant high blood glucose leads to glycation – a process that creates a sticky substance that clogs up the working of cells all over the body and brain. Glycation causes your brain to go foggy, your memory to get worse, your muscles to feel tired, your arteries to harden and your skin to look older, with more ‘age’ spots and darkened areas.

What You Should be Doing

I always recommend the Low GL Diet. There are lots of resources on my website.

Tips to Make the Low-GL Diet Even More Effective

You can make further healthy choices when you follow the diet that will help you to keep your weight stable, or increase your weight loss if this is what you need.

A Bit Less Fat

The average person eats up to 40 per cent of calories as fat, much of it as saturated fat, and that is probably too much and the wrong kind. But rather than trying to dramatically cut fat down, the important thing to do is to make sure that fats you eat are healthy. That means eating fish, nuts, seeds and their oils, and using spreads such as tahini, almond and pumpkin-seed butter, which are staples in a healthily stocked fridge. Also, use good-quality oils, including some cold-pressed virgin olive oil on salads.

The Fibre Factor

The fibre in complex carbohydrates is what slows down the release of sugars into the blood, so go for soluble fibres such as those found in oats, which are also present in chia seeds and flax seeds. But to get maximum fibre effect, try glucomannan fibre from the konjac plant. Add a heaped teaspoonful to a glass of water then take it as the start of a meal. Glucomannan (see Carboslow) taken this way will almost halve the blood sugar spike of that meal, therefore making the whole meal more slow-releasing and therefore healthier.

Take a Spoonful of Cinnamon

The active ingredient in cinnamon, MCHP, mimics the action of the hormone insulin, so a teaspoonful a day helps to remove excess sugar from the bloodstream. It also seems to reduce the levels of cholesterol and fat in the blood and to decrease blood pressure.

The mineral chromium also makes you more sensitive to the effects of insulin, reversing insulin resistance and improving blood sugar control. Some supplements combine chromium with a high-potency cinnamon extract (see Cinnachrome), if a teaspoon seems alot.

You Need to Exercise Too

Exercise has a wide range of benefits that are linked to an anti-ageing effect. So its value here is that besides burning up calories it also lowers insulin, improved blood sugar levels and builds muscle. Muscle-building resistance exercise, such as using weights, makes your body more sensitive to insulin. Also, simply getting moving after a meal, such as taking a brisk 10 minute walk, actually helps get glucose out of the blood into the cells that need it, such as the brain and muscle cells.