What is it?
Insulin is a hormone manufactured in the pancreas and released into the bloodstream when you consume carbohydrates, fats, and protein. Insulin regulates how your body metabolizes carbohydrate, fat, and protein by allowing these nutrients into your cells. The amount of insulin released is finely controlled by a feedback messaging system that relays how quickly and effectively nutrients enter individual cells (especially in the liver and muscle).
If the receptor at the cell surface no longer allows insulin to “land” on the cell, excess insulin accumulates in the bloodstream. Despite this overabundance of insulin in the bloodstream, the pancreas “thinks” that your body needs more insulin because the relay system isn’t working properly and produces and secretes even more. This resistance to the action of insulin is known as the insulin resistant syndrome (or IRS).
Other terms related to IRS include prediabetes and metabolic syndrome; however, these terms mean slightly different things.
Prediabetes is defined as a time period (perhaps lasting year or decades) prior to a diagnosis of diabetes when insulin metabolism in unhealthy. After years or decades of overwork, the pancreas becomes “exhausted” from the excess insulin production and fails. The result is type 2 diabetes mellitus (thus giving rise to the term, “prediabetes”).
Metabolic syndrome is defined as a group of conditions (i.e., type 2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and cholesterol problems) that place people at high risk for coronary artery disease. All of the conditions in this group are related to one having excess insulin in his/her bloodstream, which causes defects, especially to adipose tissue and muscle.
Long before obvious diabetes develops, elevated insulin levels in the bloodstream can lead to abnormal metabolism, causing a number of different medical conditions – hypertension (high blood pressure), hyperlipidemia (elevated cholesterol and triglycerides), fatty liver (steatosis), sleep disorders, infertility, and depression. Although IRS can be defined as a cluster of abnormalities (e.g., obesity, hypertension, etc.) associated with insulin resistance and over-secretion of insulin by the pancreas, a cause-and-effect relationship between insulin resistance and the development of these diseases has yet to be conclusively demonstrated.
What determines if you have metabolic syndrome?
Physicians determine if patients might have IRS by looking for any three of the following:
- Large waist size:
- Does your waist measure more than 35 inches (females) or more than 40” (males)?
- Blood pressure:
- Is your blood pressure greater than 130 systolic/85 diastolic?
- Fasting blood sugar (FPG):
- Do the results of the blood sugar test your doctor runs indicate a blood sugar rate higher than 110?
- Fasting triglycerides:
- Do the results of a lipid screening indicate that blood levels of triglycerides are greater than 150?
- HDL cholesterol:
- Is your HDL cholesterol at an unhealthy level – less than 40 (for men) or 50 (for women)?
What role might cytokines play?
A cytokine manufactured by fat tissue, called adiponectin, is the primary factor preventing insulin resistance. Decreasing adiponectin level are associated with increasing insulin levels and diminished insulin function. Diets high in calories, saturated or trans fats, and simple carbohydrates lower adiponectin levels, causing insulin resistance.
Another cytokine manufactured by fat tissue, resistin, causes lower adiponectin levels. Resistin also inhibits the function of insulin on cell surfaces. Elevated resistin secretion is seen in diets high in calories, saturated or trans fat, and simple carbohydrates.
Many fat and liver produced cytokines affect adiponectin and resistin levels. Understanding the intricacies of cytokine balance with nutrition is in the earliest phases.
Because having excess adipose (fat) tissue negatively affects how your body regulates insulin production and metabolism, losing weight on a safe, easy-to-follow plan like MNT can’t help but ensure success reducing IRS symptoms. Additionally, the overproduction of cytokines due to excess adipose tissue will likely be reduced by the action of the branched-chain amino acids in PrescriptFit shakes and soups.
What results could I expect with MNT?
Based on our clinical experience, insulin resistance gets better within days to weeks in patients using the PrescriptFit MNT Plan. Although the mechanism for how this occurs is unclear, the result is improved sugar metabolism, lower cholesterol, and lower blood sugar.
How can I measure symptom change on the plan?
Note that some measurements associated with monitoring IRS must be done by your doctor or in a health care setting, especially tests for cholesterol and blood sugar levels in your bloodstream. Of course, you can monitor your waist size, weight, and blood pressure at home.
First, have your doctor share with you what measurements indicate that you have IRS from the Disease/ Symptom Questionnaire in the Workbook Calendar. This will give you a baseline to compare with future measurements.
Most importantly, you (and your doctor) need a way to measure progress over time. Talk with your doctor at each regular visit about your symptoms and how they might change following the PrescriptFit Plan. Be sure to have your doctor take the same measurements after 12 weeks on the MNT Plan as you took at the beginning.
As with any medical condition, treatment may mean that you are taking medications to reduce symptoms associated with IRS (e.g., hypertension). With PrescriptFit you may find that as your symptoms lessen, you will need to take less medication OR perhaps discontinue your medications entirely. If you are taking prescription medicines, talk to your doctor about when and how to cut down on what you take BEFORE you make any changes.