Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Wednesday WOD - Insulin


For time:
30 Clean and Jerks (135lbs)

Cleans should be full squat cleans. Post time to comments.

INSULIN - What it is and Why it Matters

Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas in response to increased blood sugar levels. Insulin is a storage hormones and effectively lowers the blood sugar by letting glucose into cells. When we eat a large amount of easily digestible carbs, a blood sugar spike occurs, followed by an insulin spike. When the cells of the body are filled up with glucose, the excess is stored as fat. Insulin is an absolutely necessary hormone, but it becomes very detrimental when there are chronically elevated levels of it, such as on a typical American diet and the 65% carbohydrate diet recommended by the FDA. 
When insulin is chronically elevated, it results in an assortment of problems. High circulating levels of insulin cause the cells in the body to become more resistant to insulin, in that they need more insulin to store the same amount of glucose. This happens via a receptor-downgrade phenomenon, which is akin to alcohol or drug tolerance. If you drink a lot of alcohol or use a drug frequently, it takes progressively more and more to get the same effect. 
When your cells become insulin resistant, the pancreas pumps out more insulin to pick up the slack, and this increased insulin causes more insulin resistance; it’s a cycle that eventually ends up at diabetes. Insulin resistance is basically a measure of how diabetic you are; if you are completely insulin resistant, you have to take insulin.
Chronic high insulin levels are also the main factor in obesity; by signaling cells to uptake glucose and fatty acids and by decreasing the rate of lipolysis(breakdown of fat), insulin causes the body to hold onto body fat.
Eicosanoid Production - Omega-3/Omega-6 Balance
High insulin levels also tend to shift the body’s inflammatory status by altering eicosanoid production. Eicosanoids (ick-ah-sun-oids) are hormones that regulate inflammation throughout the entire body; there are both pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory kinds. Eicosanoids are heavily influence by our intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids; namely omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Eicosanoids produced from omega-6 fatty acids, which are disproportionally prevalent in today’s diet, tend to be pro-inflammatory, whereas omega-3 fatty acids on the other hand tend to produce anti-inflammatory eicosanoids. From an evolutionary standpoint, we should be consuming these in about a 2:1 or even 1:1 ratio of omega-6/omega-3, but today’s diet typically provides a 20:1 or even 30:1 ratio; this results in an above normal level of inflammation.

So, what’s the take-home message from all of this?

Limit the amount of carbohydrates in your diet to at a maximum of 40% of your calorie intake, and try to get most of your carbs from nutrient-rich non-starchy vegetables and fruits, with an emphasis on the veggies. This will help you stabilize insulin levels, end hunger pangs, and avoid chronic disease and death. : )

(P.S. Exercise enhances your insulin sensitivity, hooray CrossFit! Just don't count on it to make up for a crappy diet though.)


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