You Can Age Younger. Ask for This Test
You can age yourself younger, healing from the inside out. I’m living this experience, and I witness every client I work with doing the same.
Understanding what your body needs can reduce your risk of chronic illness, have you feeling better in your body, all while inviting vitality back into your life.
Today I’m addressing a condition that is often overlooked and requires some advocating for yourself at the doctor’s office.
Because there is a science behind chronic illness that is rarely discussed, and it’s something that I’ve been tracking for years.
One of the pathologies I used to suffer from is insulin resistance (IR). And while my BMI, fasting blood glucose tests, and the other diagnostics appeared healthy and normal, IR was a metabolic issue that went undetected for over a decade. It affected my fertility, caused anxiety, and unwelcome sugar cravings.
True fact: up to 80% of us suffer from insulin resistance.
Sadly, doctors aren’t trained to look for it, and yet it plays a key role in chronic disease.
What is it? Simply put, when you eat anything that breaks down into sugar (such as desserts, sweet foods, sugar-sweetened drinks, fruit juice, fruit, or starches like bread, potatoes, cereal, grains, and rice) your pancreas releases insulin, a hormone that’s in charge of transporting that sugar out of your bloodstream and into your cells for energy.
If the glucose gets too high (or sticks around for too long) it causes inflammation, tissue damage, and other detrimental effects. When the body continues to respond to waves of high blood sugar, it stops listening to the insulin signal. This is insulin resistance.
Signs of insulin resistance include abdominal obesity, fatigue after meals, sugar cravings, high triglycerides, low HDL, high blood pressure, blood-clotting problems, fertility issues, and chronic inflammation (pain, neuropathic pain, achy joints).
The test that few doctors are ordering is a FASTING INSULIN TEST.
This test is how I was finally diagnosed in my early 40s. At the time, distance running and cardio-training were masking my problem well.
A fasting insulin test measures insulin resistance long before a fasting glucose test will. It catches the early signs of metabolic dysfunction while they can still be reversed.
Be your own health advocate, and request this test.
Note: If your doctor agrees to order a fasting insulin test, notice that the reference ranges given on a standard lab report (<25mIU/mL) are too high. This number represents the average fasting insulin levels of the general population but does not consider the fact that only 12% of the population is metabolically healthy. Therefore, this number is not ideal to follow for diabetes and other chronic disease prevention.
Instead, let’s consider what the optimal fasting insulin level is for preventing IR and diabetes.
It’s a much narrower reference range.
Metabolic health experts agree that fasting insulin in healthy individuals should be between 2-5 mIU/mL. Anything above 10 mIU/mL is concerning, and anything over 15 mIU/mL is significantly elevated.
Use these values as your guide when assessing your lab results.
The good news is that insulin resistance, and the chronic diseases that stem from IR, are “foodable” (versus druggable), meaning they respond well to nutritional changes and lifestyle interventions.
To optimize your fasting insulin levels, use these tips:
1. Eat whole, fresh foods. 80% of what is sold in the supermarkets by Big Food is not food. Shop the perimeter of the store, and limit packaged foods. Include fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, and high quality animal protein in your meals.
2. Remove artificial sweeteners. As a recovered Diet Coke addict (my grad school go-to) I can tell you that artificial sweeteners cause cravings for additional sweet foods. Artificial sweeteners trick the body into thinking that there’s glucose present, releasing insulin when none is needed.
3. Reduce inflammation. By reducing refined carbohydrates in your diet—think anything containing white flour and sugar (breads, pasta, crackers, desserts, pastry, soft pretzels, etc). Eat these sparingly. Vegetable seed oils found in processed foods (especially salad dressings, canned soups, sauces, etc) are also pro-inflammatory.
4. Increase fiber-rich foods. Fiber slows the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream from the gut. It also feeds the good bacteria in your gut to promote a healthy gut environment.
Eat a wide variety of plant-based foods such as nuts, seeds, fruits, and leafy green vegetables.
5. Get enough sleep. 7-9 hours is recommended for adults. Skimping on sleep raises cortisol hormone, contributing to IR. Also try to stick with consistent sleep and wake times, even on the weekends.
6. Address nutritional deficiencies. Most of us are deficient in Vitamin D, omega-3-fatty acid, chromium, and magnesium. Buy high quality supplements. A therapeutic dose of Vitamin D is 2000-5000 IU per day. Omega-3-FA is 3000-4000 IU per day. Magnesium 150-300 mg per day. **Always consult your physician before adding any new supplements to your care regimen. **
7. Incorporate movement into your day. Movement uses glucose as fuel, helping to manage blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity. Aim for a combination of resistance training, flexibility exercises, and high intensity interval training (HIIT). This activates your longevity genes. (Whoop!)
8. Find ways to reduce your stress. Chronic stress elevates cortisol, your primary stress hormone. Increased cortisol levels lead to blood sugar imbalances and a loss of insulin sensitivity. The goal isn’t to eliminate stress entirely. Stress is a normal part of life. Reducing the impact of stress on your quality of life is important, so find a relaxation practice that feels easy to return to, and practice it every day.
This is a longer post, but it’s a topic near and dear to my heart. I want as many of you as possible to have this information, to keep yourself aging younger for a very long time.
These steps are simple but not always easy to implement. That’s where coaching can help. I help you discover and remove the real obstacles that are getting in the way of your best, healthiest life.
Listen to your body and invest in YOU by allowing the time and space to provide what it asks for.
I’m always here to help.