Are you more insulin sensitive or insulin resistant? It's definitely a spectrum and it's important to find out where you are on this spectrum so you can learn how to better support your body. Ideally, you want to be more insulin sensitive (closer to the left side on the diagram below).
Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body's cells become less responsive to insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps regulate blood sugar levels. When insulin resistance occurs, the cells are unable to use insulin effectively, which causes blood sugar levels to rise.
In response to rising blood sugar levels, the pancreas produces more insulin to try to bring the levels back down. However, over time, the cells can become even more resistant to insulin, which leads to a cycle of increasing blood sugar levels and insulin production.
Insulin resistance is a common precursor to type 2 diabetes, as well as other metabolic conditions such as metabolic syndrome and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. It can be caused by a combination of genetic, diet and lifestyle factors. Other factors such as stress, gut health, hormonal imbalances, and certain medications may also contribute to the development of insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance can have various symptoms, although some individuals may not have any symptoms at all. The most common symptoms of insulin resistance include:
Increased hunger and cravings for sugar and carbohydrates
Weight gain, especially around the waistline
Fatigue and lethargy, especially after meals
Brain fog and difficulty concentrating
High blood pressure
High triglyceride levels and low HDL cholesterol levels
Dark patches of skin, especially around the neck and armpits
Acne (especially if it flares around ovulation) and skin tags
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in women (this is not the case for everyone with PCOS)
If you experience any of these symptoms or diagnoses, it is important to speak to your healthcare provider who can perform tests to determine if you have insulin resistance or any other underlying medical condition. First, I would recommend asking your doctor for a glucose tolerance test to see how your body is responding to glucose (sugar). This will provide more insight than the typical fasting insulin and fasting glucose markers they test for on blood work. If you can substitute their toxic glucola drink for 10 oz of apple juice or 2 1/2 bananas, that would be ideal. Then I would consider getting a glucometer like the one by Nutrisense in my shop. If you want to learn more about blood sugar and how to track along with what optimal ranges you should be aiming for... join The Acne Solution!
In addition, I highly recommend testing your mineral levels as minerals are the foundational pieces you need in balance in order to become more insulin sensitive. Unfortunately, testing minerals via blood isn't going to be accurate or give us the information we need. I highly recommend doing a hair tissue mineral analysis to evaluate your macro-mineral balance and get valuable insight into your nervous system and metabolism at the cellular level. This test is commonly known as HTMA and is the most bang for your buck out all the functional tests we offer.
How does Insulin Resistance Cause Acne?
Insulin resistance can contribute to the development of acne in several ways. First, insulin resistance can increase the production of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), a hormone that is known to stimulate the production of sebum, the oily substance that is produced by the sebaceous glands in the skin. Excess sebum production can contribute to clogged pores and the formation of acne.
Second, insulin resistance can lead to chronic inflammation, which is a common feature of acne. When the body becomes resistant to insulin, it can cause the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which can contribute to the development of acne. Third, insulin resistance can increase the production of androgen hormones, such as testosterone, which can contribute to the development of acne. Androgens stimulate the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum, which can clog pores and lead to acne. If you experience acne around ovulation, this is because your testosterone levels are already at their highest during this time and any insulin resistance is going to trigger even more testosterone production. If you are noticing a lot of skin tags or moles on your body, remember that insulin is a growth promoting anabolic hormone so high levels of insulin can cause excess skin in the form of skin tags or moles.
I never recommend getting a skin tag or wart removed because symptoms like these are our bodies mechanism to achieve internal balance. We don't want to alter or suppress these symptoms through a medical intervention like removal as this does not address the root issue. Your body will always find another way to tell you something is off inside and this usually results in far worse symptoms. Ultimately, removing a wart or mole is just putting up a roadblock for your body to now have to find a way to bypass. The same theory applies for PCOS women who get laser to stop their hirsutism.
What Is At The Root of Insulin Resistance?
There are many factors at play here but two main causes of insulin resistance are elevated fatty acids paired with imbalanced minerals. Small amounts of exposure to polyunsaturated fatty acids (ie. fish oil, vegetable oil, seed oils) can damage the insulin secreting cells of the pancreas and the mitochondria which is where oxidative energy is produced. When you continuously consume these highly unstable fats they will cause capillary permeability which leads to insulin resistance. If you don't have certain macro-minerals in balance like sodium, you won't be able to maintain cellular energy or stability. We often see hypothyroid patients to be very insulin resistant and this is because they aren't able to retain sodium or potassium and are burning through magnesium very fast.
How Do I Reverse Insulin Resistance and Become More Insulin Sensitive?
1. Eat More Potassium
Potassium is heavily involved in the metabolism of glucose, the primary source of energy for the body's cells and can enhance the storage of glycogen. Therefore, potassium deficiencies have been linked to elevated blood sugar, low levels of insulin and low carbohydrate stores (glycogen).
If you can't tolerate carbs, make sure to get at least 4700mg of potassium daily. Potassium rich foods include; bananas, apricots, potatoes, kiwis and watermelon.
2. Eat More Chromium
Chromium helps influence efficient transportation of glucose into the cells. Glycogen is a form of glucose that is stored in the liver and muscles for later use. Chromium can enhance the synthesis of glycogen, which can help to maintain stable blood sugar levels between meals and during periods of physical activity.Chromium can also reduce the absorption of glucose from the intestines, which can help to prevent rapid spikes in blood sugar levels.
Eat your cinnamon! Ceylon (true) cinnamon has a higher amount of chromium!
3. Replace PUFA's with saturated fats
When your tissues are saturated with too much "anti thyroid" fats (polyunsaturated fatty acids aka PUFAs) your metabolism slows. This increases the concentration of free fatty acids in the blood stream which contributes to insulin resistance. PUFA's will oxidize when consumed creating free radical damage thus increasing inflammation and oxidative stress which is what insulin resistance stems from.
Sugar actually tends to protect against toxic effects of excess PUFA's by reducing the level of free fatty acids in the body. Diabetes and cancer are influenced by unsaturated oils in the diet, rather than by sugar.
4. Swap Fake Sugar For Real Sugar
Sugar does NOT cause insulin resistance, it is NOT the problem! We need an abundance of sugar to fuel our cells. The problem with sugar alternatives like stevia is it's not real sugar but still is quite sweet. When your body tastes the sweetness, it's going to prepare for glucose (sugar) and release a ton of insulin to get the sugar into your cells. However, because stevia is not actual glucose, there will be nothing for your cells to uptake leaving a lot of insulin hanging around and creating a low blood sugar picture.
5. Eat Protein and Carbs Together!
Carbs get broken down into glucose (a simple sugar) and absorbed into the bloodstream, causing a rise in blood sugar levels. In response, the pancreas secretes insulin, a hormone that helps transport glucose from the blood into cells to be used for energy or stored for later use. Protein, on the other hand, helps slow down the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream, preventing a sudden spike in blood sugar levels. Therefore, eating carbohydrates and protein together can help regulate blood sugar levels and prevent sudden spikes or crashes.
6. Get In Movement After Meals
Physical activity helps increase insulin sensitivity! If you use your muscles for 15-20 minutes after eating (ie. go for a walk, do your laundry, clean your house), your muscles will absorb the excess glucose from your bloodstream. When you eat a meal, your blood sugar levels typically rise as your body digests the carbohydrates in the food. However, physical activity can help stimulate the uptake of glucose into cells, which can help lower blood sugar levels more quickly.
7. Supplement Magnesium
Magnesium is important in controlling the action of insulin and insulin reliant glucose uptake at the cell. A magnesium deficiency can impair the action of insulin and increase insulin resistance. The best form of magnesium for blood sugar regulation is magnesium malate, however, they all would be of benefit. It's hard to get enough magnesium through food due to our depleted soil so I highly recommend supplementing.
8. Take ACV and/or Digestive Bitters Before Meals
Apple cider vinegar before meals helps with digestion but most importantly, helps slow the conversion of complex carbs to glucose and the acetic acid will help your muscles uptake and utilize glucose.
Many herbs in digestive bitter formulas, such as burdock and yellow dock, can help to improve the function of the pancreas, which is responsible for producing insulin. Additionally, gentian root and dandelion, have been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, which helps the cells to use glucose more effectively. Overall, having good digestion ensures that the nutrients from food are absorbed properly, including carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. This can help to ensure that glucose is metabolized effectively and that blood sugar levels are stable.
Organic Olivia in my shop came out with an amazing formula called GlucoBitters where you get the best of both worlds!
8. Add White Flaky Sea Salt to Your Food and Water
Low sodium levels can lead to insulin resistance. A pinch of white flaky sea salt on your food or in your water daily will provide some essential electrolytes needed for blood sugar regulation and adrenal function.
Most people are very stressed these days and stress is a diuretic that depletes electrolytes like sodium and potassium which activates the system responsible for raising blood sugar.
Crucial Four in my shop carries a great sea salt! Use the discount code listed there to save money!
9. Test your minerals with an HTMA!
This is how you get to the real root cause of your insulin resistance! It all stems from your macro-mineral balance (calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium + zinc). One of the most crucial ratios we evaluate on our clients HTMA's are calcium and magnesium. This is because calcium helps stimulate insulin release whereas magnesium helps inhibit it. Depending on your levels of these minerals and how fast you are burning through them, we are able to gauge where you are on the insulin resistant / insulin sensitive scale and the actions needed to take to get you more insulin sensitive. Studies are also showing mercury toxicity significantly increases your risk for insulin resistance which the HTMA also tests for.
Hopefully this is helpful, I know a lot of you suffering with acne are suffering from insulin resistance and just don't know it! If you want to learn more about getting to the root cause of your acne, come watch my FREE Clear Skin Masterclass where I walk you through my methods.