When hearing `Resistance´, you might think about Star Wars and the force around General Leia to fight against the First Order. So far - so good 😉
While I appreciate your nerdy cinema knowledge, the resistance we are talking about in this article is less cinematic but still - it is an incredibly interesting health topic.
Today I´d like to highlight insulin resistance to make a little step towards increasing awareness about it - and especially about how to overcome it.
From all that we know by now, insulin resistance is more widely spread than we thought and chances are high, that you or someone you love is insulin resistant.
But why should you bother?
Let me tell you: Because insulin resistance is a serious issue and heavily involved in a myriad of conditions that are widely known as "lifestyle diseases".
OK - while I admit that the phrase "lifestyle disease" doesn´t sound too serious, we need to keep in mind that the `lifestyle´ part refers to the fact that those diseases are caused by our lifestyle, not by trauma or an accident. And in the category of lifestyle diseases are heart and brain diseases, skin and muscle issues, cancer, reproductive health topics, and - of course - overweight included.
I am not a doctor and not an expert in the field and I recommend you to follow Benjamin Bikman, Ph.D., and Dr. Jason Fung to get a deep dive into the topic. Still - I will try to explain insulin resistance to you in the way I understand it.
Did you know? You are able to develop resistance to close to everything you are exposed to like noise, drugs, behavior, etc.
And you are not only able to, but actually doing it: If you are exposed to something ongoingly, you are developing a resistance to protect yourself.
So, we can conclude: When insulin levels are constantly elevated, your body becomes resistant to it.
Let´s get back to Star Wars for a second to see whether we can use it as an example: The Resistance came up as a result of the increasing power and danger coming from the First Order for the galaxy.
I wonder whether Star Wars actually works as an example... Let´s check:
your body is the galaxy,
insulin is the First Order and
the cells in your body are the people and their homes within the galaxy.
When more and more insulin (=First Order) is appearing constantly in your body (=galaxy) pushing all the sugar (=threat/danger) into your cells (=homes), you try to hide and shut the doors to not let more sugar into your cells. When insulin knocks and knocks and knocks, you do not hear it and you are not opening the doors anymore.
You are resistant to their efforts.
However, as a result, only more insulin comes and knocks louder and stronger and presses up the doors, and throws the sugar into the cells.
And -to further stick to the analogy- maybe you and your neighbors are building an alliance against the threat coming from the insulin to not allow it to harass you by kicking down your doors anymore.
You built the Resistance.
Ok - ok, I get it, this example is a bit borderline and therefore I get some professional help now:
As admitted, my Star Wars example is lacking a bit of accuracy, I will rather cite Benjamin Bikman´s definition from his book "Why we get sick" (with his friendly permission):
Insulin resistance can be defined as a "reduced response to the hormone insulin. When a cell stops responding to insulin, [...], it becomes insulin resistant. In this state, certain cells need more than normal amounts of insulin to get the same response as before. Thus, the key feature of insulin resistance is that blood levels of insulin are higher than they used to be and the insulin often does not work as well."
That being said, once resistant to insulin, your body needs more insulin to perform the same tasks within the body as it used to when it was insulin-sensitive.
Remember, insulin is mainly known for its task to clear the bloodstream from glucose. But while being resistant to insulin, the body is in the need of more insulin to clear the stream, and as a result: the body produces more insulin.
Unfortunately, that increases insulin resistance even more. It´s a vicious cycle.
Some of us are eating 5 to 10 meals a day as this has been recommended to us by doctors, family, friends, or governmental institutions. This method is deemed to keep our energy level steady and balanced.
However, this seems to be a false assumption. With serious effects on our health.
👉 by eating that often, we are keeping the need for insulin up as we are keeping the glucose levels in our blood up - 5 to 10 times a day.
And yes, you are right to ask: What about the human pattern to develop resistance to things we are exposed to ongoingly? Yes exactly - constantly elevated levels of insulin cause us to become insulin resistant.
This brings me to the second conclusion:
We need to change our lifestyle to overcome insulin resistance: Stop snacking - stop grazing - stop eating too often.
Overcome insulin resistance
To allow the body to stay or to become insulin sensitive again, we need to give the body time; time to clear out the insulin load and be on low insulin levels as much as possible.
How to achieve this?
Frankly by eating less often. And ideally by eating less blood glucose increasing food that does not trigger a high insulin response when having a meal.
Fasting can be the answer for you to overcome your insulin resistance.
Fasting gives your body the time to clear out the insulin and stay in this low-insulin-state for a while.
And during this time of resting, your cells can become sensitive to the insulin again and actually listen when it knocks on the door to put some sugar into the cells that came to your bloodstream from the one or two meals you had in a day.
And once sensitive, the cells will happily take the sugar as they are no longer filled and stuffed with the sugar from an hour ago.