Tuesday, October 6, 2015

News to Help You Lose: Great New Research on insulin resistance, prediabetes, leptin, and more

News to help you lose:  there is a lot of exciting new research out recently, so much to share!  We've been extremely busy already this fall, helping patients simplify their healthy nutrition and lifestyle planning, and we've been sharing the new studies left and right...time to jot down a few here!

First of all, the scary news.  Studies confirm that Americans are facing an epidemic of insulin resistance, prediabetes,  Type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.  What percentage of American adults have actual prediabetes or diabetes right now?  It's a frightening number, according the Journal of the American Medical Association:  "We found... 49% to 52% of the population was estimated to have either diabetes or prediabetes."   http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2434682#Discussion

Yes, you read that correctly - 50 % of Americans have diagnosable prediabetes or diabetes right now.  When I tell patients that number, they nearly fall off their chairs.  How did this happen, and what can we do about it?  That is actually a very complex story, and more information is being uncovered everyday, and the topic is complex enough to deserve a full blog (at least!) of it's own.  For now I will simply say it is the result of "nature plus nurture" - in other words, it is the result of genes which are switched on by factors in our environment (such as high carbohydrate and saturated fat diets, possibly food additives which I'll discuss in a later blog, such as carboxymethylcellulose and polysorbate 80 which may change our intestinal flora/gut bacteria to create inflammation; plus toxins such as BPA, pesticides, and other endocrine disruptors;  plus the abundance of "addictive foods" overwhelming our normal appetite systems; plus vitamin and nutrient deficiencies such as vitamin D and omega-3 deficiencies; plus sedentary lifestyle; plus stress; plus lack of sleep; and 'decision fatigue' and 'unmet needs' in our culture which create anxiety, insomnia, and more...more in another blog!)

What to do about the prediabetes/diabetes epidemic?  Well, actually there is QUITE a bit we can do to reverse prediabetes, improve diabetes, even put them into remission, and completely normalize the lab values.  We've done this with numerous patients, and they are not only healthier, but they feel more energetic, happy, focused, with better moods and outlooks.  There is no 'single simple pill' to 'fix' prediabetes or diabetes, but there are definite strategies for food, activity, lifestyle, and medication adjustments to turn things around for the better.  We actually do know what works to "fix" this.

Next research - how many days of overeating does it take to trigger insulin resistance (which is the precursor to prediabetes and diabetes)?  More bad news...and it was shocking to me and my colleagues.  It takes only TWO to THREE days! Here is a great article which explains the research:   http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-obesity-insulin-resistance-20150909-story.html
From the article:  "It took fewer than three days, however, for investigators to spot what they were looking for, and its likely cause. Between days 2 and 3, researchers could detect the onset of insulin resistance in the men, who were more than doubling their usual caloric intake."  

This sounds truly terrifying, but knowledge can lead to power, and healthy change.  A patient asked me today how long it takes to reverse this damage.  I told him that this is an ongoing area of research, but some studies have suggested that three days of proper, careful eating and exercise may begin to reverse the effect, and other studies suggest that three weeks of careful eating and exercise may even normalize some lab values - BUT - the time will likely vary from one individual to another.  The important take-home message is that we can take control, become educated, use the latest science to plan a strategy, and get this turned around!  We have extensive knowledge now about how food affects our biochemistry, and when we take this knowledge, turn it into a realistic, real-life plan, and have the proper support to keep the plan going, we can see remarkable improvements.

Final bit of research today (there is so much more, but let's keep it to three for this blog entry):  have you heard of the "Runner's High"?  That is the euphoric feeling some people get when they exercise intensely...but others never seem to feel it.  New research suggests that those who have high leptin levels (which occurs with prediabetes and diabetes), have the runner's high blocked by the leptin.  Here is a great article by Dr. Sharma, discussing the research:  http://www.drsharma.ca/does-leptin-reduce-the-reward-response-to-exercise?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A%20AryaSharma%20%28Arya%20M.%20Sharma%2C%20MD%29
From his article:  "higher levels of leptin (as seen in people living with obesity) directly inhibit the rewarding nature of running, making it less likely to experience a runner’s high, than in someone with low leptin levels..."
Long story short,  can we fix/lower excess leptin levels?  The answer is YES.  Studies show that, interestingly enough, cutting down calories in our diet leads to a rapid drop in leptin levels...so it may well be that a few weeks into a diet, exercise might feel better!  Those who have prediabetes or diabetes tend to have excess leptin produced by their 'deep belly fat', and we decrease calories, and improve leptin sensitivity (through weight loss, a special diet, exercise, lifestyle adjustments to improve sleep,  address stress, and sometimes medications such as metformin), our bodies tend to bring leptin levels down again.  Take home message:  do not despair!  Knowledge + power + a plan + action = results!  

To discuss these issues, give us a call, and we can see you in person, or set up a phone or virtual consult:  (603) 379-6500.  Read more about our program at healthyweightcenter.com