One of our latest podcast episodes in our Funky Fat Podcast is with Shana Hussin, a dietitian and insulin resistance expert. She also published her book in April 2020 named Fast to Heal, it’s a step-by-step process on how to heal and reverse diabetes, PCOS, fatty liver disease and high blood pressure, and weight loss with strategies, practices, and healthy food.
She also has her podcast and courses to help and educate people on this subject. In today’s article, we’ll talk about what she told us during our chat in our podcast.
What is insulin resistance?
Insulin resistance syndrome (a.k.a. metabolic syndrome) is when cells in your muscles, fat, and liver don’t respond well to insulin and, therefore, can’t use glucose from your blood for energy. As a result, your pancreas makes more insulin to help glucose enter your cells. Usually, this is present already in people who suffer from obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes.
The hormone insulin is a storage hormone and it tells your body what to do with energy. So, eating all the time throughout the day stimulates a blood sugar response, especially if we’re eating on a daily basis, more than the recommended amount of ultra-processed foods, carbohydrates, or sugar. Every time you eat, you get a blood sugar response (depending on what foods you’re eating), which provokes an insulin response. Because when you eat food, the energy doesn’t automatically go where it needs to go and just provides you with energy, it is a whole process. Some things need to happen, one of them being the hormone insulin being secreted by the pancreas. When the pancreas is compromised or doesn’t work as it should, or it stops working (like in type 1 diabetes), you have to inject yourself with insulin.
When we eat all the time, especially the types of foods that provoke a big insulin response, our pancreas is just pushing out insulin all the time and it builds up in the bloodstream because you have energy in the bloodstream all the time but you don’t have anywhere for this energy to go. Your body only has a certain amount of capacity to store carbohydrates in the form of glycogen and it is stored in the liver and the muscle tissue. Once you’ve reached the amount of carbohydrates your body can store, your body needs to do something with that energy, and it’s going to have to convert it to fat.
When we have insulin levels high all the time, our cells start to become immune to insulin and the insulin level becomes high for the most part of the day (type 2 diabetes).
How to reverse insulin resistance?
In order to reverse insulin resistance, it’s important to learn how to level your insulin levels, because you’re just not utilizing energy well with insulin resistance. This is why it’s important to do the opposite of what got you sick in the first place, and we’ll talk about the two most popular and most effective strategies to do so.
You have to know that these strategies don’t have to be forever. However, to know how long it takes to reverse insulin resistance it will all depend on how long you have been struggling with the disease.
Fasting means that you stop eating completely, or almost completely, for a certain period of time. A fast usually lasts from 12 to 24 hours, depending on each person. Also, depending on the type of fasting you’re doing you can have water, tea or coffee, soup, or even a small amount of food in liquid form during the fasting period, as long as it doesn’t spike your blood sugar. Essentially, fasting cleanses our body of toxins and forces cells into processes that are not usually stimulated when a steady stream of fuel from food is always present.
When we fast, the body does not have its usual access to glucose, forcing the cells to resort to other means and materials to produce energy: ketones. As a result, the body begins gluconeogenesis, a natural process of producing sugar from your fat storage. The liver helps by converting non-carbohydrate materials like lactate, amino acids, and fats into glucose energy. Because our bodies conserve energy during fasting, our basal metabolic rate (the amount of energy our bodies burn while resting) becomes more efficient, thereby lowering our heart rate and blood pressure.
Ketosis is another process that occurs later in the fast cycle. It happens when the body burns stored fat as its primer power source. This is the ideal mode for weight loss and balancing blood sugar levels.
Decreasing insulin resistance increases your body’s sensitivity to insulin, allowing it to transport glucose from your bloodstream to your cells more efficiently. By fasting for a long period of time, you also keep your blood sugar steady, preventing spikes and crashes in your blood sugar levels.
Therapeutic carbohydrate restriction - a.k.a. low-carb
A therapeutic Carbohydrate restriction is referred to any dietary intervention that uses less than 130 grams of dietary carbohydrates per day. There are, however, various levels of carbohydrate restriction. It differs from person to person, based on age, blood sugar levels, physical activity, etc.
For people who suffer from insulin resistance, consuming fewer carbohydrates allows them to decrease the need for insulin in the body, which improves many hormonal regulations including appetite and satiety hormones. Low-carb diets have been shown to contribute to the remission of type 2 diabetes. It’s important, however, to be treated by a specialist when trying this diet and be assisted by a certified nutritionist and, in case of using some type of medication, also by a health care provider to make sure you’re doing the best for your health.
Aside from focusing on good nutrition to reverse insulin resistance in cases of Obesity, Pre-diabetes, Type 2 diabetes, Fatty liver disease, High blood pressure, or PCOS, it is also important to focus on getting adequate sleep, keeping good stress management, and daily movement to allow the body to heal.