I'm Katie DeBakey and I've been studying insulin resistance for fifteen years. I only reference credible medical sources in my writing.
More Than 100 Million Americans Have Insulin Resistance
These numbers reflect only the patients who have actually had their insulin levels tested by a doctor. The number is thought to be much higher as many people who suffer from seemingly unrelated health issues and disease think that the symptoms they are experiencing point to other causes or simply to just plain getting older.
Insulin resistance causes a slew of health problems, and many of these problems have only recently been discovered to actually be the result of insulin resistance.
I myself have suffered for literally decades with many health issues that I had not idea were the result of insulin resistance. I suffered from chronic and severe constipation in which doctors would insist was related to me not eating enough fiber. Yet the more fiber I ate the worse my constipation got. I also suffered from major depression and anxiety, PCOS symptoms that were debilitating, crisis level blood pressure at the ripe old age of 36, I was overweight with most of my weight carried as visceral (belly) fat, I had elevated liver enzymes, etc.
Every single one of these symptoms have been resolved with a whole foods diet that includes almost no processed grains, sugar, or vegetable oils.
My mother had all of the above mentioned health issues as well and she eventually died of Gallbladder and intestinal cancer. It was clear that she was also developing Alzheimer's rapidly before she passed and my grandmother, her mother, actually passed of Alzheimer's disease. I wonder all the time if there fate would have been different had we as a society had been made privy to the effects and prevalence of insulin resistance.
First, let’s discuss what insulin resistance is and what causes it. Insulin resistance is a state of the body’s cells turning away excess insulin in the blood that is trying to enter said cells. These cells are already full of insulin and simply can’t take any more in. This leads to excess levels of the hormone, insulin, in the blood. There are usually excess levels of sugar circulating in the blood as well because sugar creates an insulin response and too much sugar causes too much insulin to be produced up until the cells start turning it away and the excess sugar cannot be processed either.
Basically, too much sugar in the blood, causes too much insulin, which causes insulin resistance, which causes both too much sugar and insulin to remain in the blood. It’s all one big cycle, if that makes sense to you.
There are different effects that excess insulin and sugar in your system produce. Insulin is a growth hormone that cause its own health effects, and too much sugar can cause oxidative and inflammatory responses.
Below we will discuss some of the effects of insulin resistance as well as high blood sugar, and you might be surprised to see health issues and diseases that you may have not realized were its direct results.
Cardiovascular Disease and High Blood Pressure
One glaring effect that insulin resistance has on our health is coronary artery disease (CAD). It’s actually excess blood sugar that causes oxidative stress and inflammation in your arteries. This oxidation and inflammation cause lesions to develop and cholesterol runs to the rescue. Sure, excess cholesterol in the arteries is a sign of CAD and the cholesterol can cause narrowing of the arteries and blood clots, but it the reason that the cholesterol is there in the first place that is the true health problem. You can take all the medication in the world to reduce cholesterol and you can cut it from your diet, but the inflammation will still be there and will continue to cause major damage to your cardiovascular system until you cut the excess carbs and sugar from your diet (Carbs turn into sugar once digested.)
Here is a lengthy study that outlines this but, you can simply run a quick Google, Duck Duck Go, or YouTube search in the subject to get more digestible information from many, many other doctors and medical professionals. Blaming cholesterol for coronary artery disease is like blaming the fire department for fires simply because wherever there is a fire, the fire department is sure to go. Wherever there is inflammation in the body, cholesterol is sure to follow so that it can aid in repair of the damage.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is directly linked to insulin resistance and has been referred to by some medical professionals, such as Dr. Ken Berry, as type 2 diabetes of the ovaries. Believe it or not, the ovaries cannot become insulin resistant. You might be thinking, ‘’Great! That means they shouldn’t be negatively affected by insulin resistance!”. That, however, is not the case. Since they cannot resist against excess levels of insulin, they are much more susceptible to the damage it can cause. Insulin is considered a growth hormone. In fact, many body builders use insulin to gain mass. Too much insulin triggers production and imbalance of hormones like DHEA, testosterone, estrogen, etc. And the imbalance can cause androgenous effect to take place. Think of a massive body build with huge muscles but, a really high voice, or… other sex organ related issues that you may have heard about. That is a result of both too much testosterone and too much estrogen being produced. Your ovaries are involved in making many of these hormones and if they are battling excess insulin on a constant basis, this will inevitably cause hormone imbalance.
You may be familiar with or even have some of the symptoms of PCOS, like lengthy, heavy periods, excess facial hair, infertility, enlarged follicles in the ovaries that were once thought to be cysts (Hence the name polycystic ovarian syndrome), etc. These symptoms can absolutely be reversed! You’ve just got to get those insulin levels down and keep them down consistently. You can accomplish this by severely reducing your carb, sugar, and processed ‘’vegetable oil’’ intake. (Vegetable oils don’t actually contain any vegetables.) You can also introduce intermittent fasting and weight bearing exercises to your lifestyle to help with this as well. Just stick to a whole food, grain free diet, up your physical activity and you may start to see your PCOS reverse within a matter of months.
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Yes, there are some women who have PCOS but do not have insulin resistance. But that is a very rare scenario. PCOS has about 10% to do with genetics and 90% to do with lifestyle. If you’ve been diagnosed with PCOS, changing your lifestyle is not only the cheaper route but the healthier route to reversing this syndrome.
Fatty Liver Disease
Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) is the most common chronic liver condition in the United States. It’s estimated that about 25% - 30% of adults in the U.S. have NAFLD. Its prevalence is at 75% for people who are classified as obese and at nearly 100% in the morbidly obese population. It is also very common in the Type 2 Diabetes population with between 50% and 75% prevalence. NAFLD is strongly associated with insulin resistance. This study outlines exactly how a high carb diet (particularly a high fructose diet) not only directly contributes to No Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease but is the main contributor. NAFLD, if not reversed, will inevitably lead to liver fibrosis and eventually liver cirrhosis, which cannot be reversed in most cases and is terminal (You’ll die from it.)
Studies have shown that people who have gone on a low-carb high-fat or ketogenic diet have reversed liver fat by as much as 13% in a matter of months or some cases even weeks! This is especially important to note because once your liver is able to function properly, it allows for better hormone balancing and weight loss for the rest of your body. Your liver is responsible for over 500 vital functions in your body. If it’s bogged down and congested with fat and inflammation from a high carb diet, it has to spend most of that energy trying to heal itself before it can focus on healing the rest of your body.
Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
Most of us realize the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s disease because most of us know someone who has suffered or is suffering from it. It not only effects the person who has the disease but, it greatly effects their loved ones and family members who watch the people they know and love deteriorate, and who care for them when they can no longer care for themselves. As of now, 5.8 million Americans have Alzheimer’s, and the number is expected to almost triple by the year 2050. But why? Why are more and more people getting Alzheimer’s disease as time goes on.
Alzheimer’s has recently been discovered to be directly caused by Metabolic Syndrome, also know as Insulin Resistance. In fact, Alzheimer’s Disease is now also referred to as Type 3 Diabetes. Over the last decade, cumulative studies and data have reinforced that the brain is an insulin-sensitive organ and that it is affected by Insulin Resistance. Here is one study that outlines this information. Another study including autopsy data from 2004 shows that 81% of people with Alzheimer’s also had either Type 2 Diabetes of Prediabetes, which is Insulin Resistance.
More studies have shown that people suffering from Alzheimer’s show marked improvements in both their cognitive and functional abilities and that a ketogenic or low-carb high-fat diet reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. This is an article that outlines several of these studies and includes presentations as well.
Weight Gain, Visceral Fat Storage, and Inability to Lose Weight
Visceral fat, or the fat that accumulates around one’s midsection is caused by insulin resistance. Not all people with insulin resistance have visceral fat but all people with excess visceral fat do have some degree of insulin resistance. Believe it or not, it’s not the fat in your mid-section that is so dangerous, it’s the reason that the fat is accumulating there that is the issue. In fact, it’s a big red flag that you are suffering from insulin resistance and all of the negative effects of it. That’s why it is so important to lose that mid-section weight. Not because that particular fat is harming you, but because in order to lose that fat, you must reverse your insulin resistance. When you are insulin resistant your hormones are completely out of balance. Leptin, the hormone that tells you when you are hungry, is constantly elevated, so you are never really satiated and may find yourself snacking, particularly on carbs throughout the day. These carbs increase IR and Leptin, creating a viscous cycle of needless and dangerous eating and hunger.
Also, as noted above, IR causes a fatty and inflamed liver, which cannot balance your hormones or allow you to lose weight until it can itself lose excess fat and balance its hormones.
Depression and Anxiety
Insulin Resistance doubles your risk of major depressive disorder according to a recent Stanford study. This study actually states that about 1 in 3 Americans have Insulin Resistance and that about 40% of patients suffering from mood disorders also have Insulin Resistance.
Subjects found to be insulin-resistant had a heightened nine-year risk of developing major depressive disorder. They discovered that a moderate increase in insulin resistance, as measured by the triglyceride-to-HDL ratio, was linked to an 89% increase in the rate of new cases of major depressive disorder. Remember how we discussed that IR causes visceral fat accumulation? Well, they also found that every 5-centimeter increase in abdominal fat in their study subjects (people in the study) was related to an 11% higher rate of depression. Also, an increase in fasting plasma glucose of 18 milligrams per deciliter of blood was associated with a 37% higher rate of depression. Basically, if your blood sugar is high then you have IR and an increased risk of depression.
Insulin Resistance is also known to cause skin manifestations such as skin tags, vitiligo, acne, seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis, and many more. Skin tags are thought to be caused because insulin is essentially a growth hormone and too much insulin not only tells your body to grow more fat but also more skin.
Other skin conditions such as vitiligo, psoriasis, and seborrheic dermatitis, are essentially Auto Immune diseases that are triggered by inflammation. We discussed the link between IR and inflammation.
Once you put down the processed carbs and sugar, you should notice major relief from the above-mentioned skin conditions in a matter of weeks. (Skintags notwithstanding.) However, you should notice that the skin tags cease to develop and don’t return after they are removed as long as you keep a low-carb high-fat diet.
I suffered from this effect severely when I was trying to live my healthiest life in my 20s by following the food pyramid. I was chronically and severely constipated all the time. I just kept eating more and more whole grains and oats, thinking that more fiber and more of these so called ‘’healthy’’ foods would help the situation. But the constipation only got worse until I finally came across information about the Paleo diet. The Paleo diet is basically a low-grade version of Keto, including only whole foods, which in turn, makes it a low carb diet.
This study will outline why a high glycemic diet, which is a high carb diet, causes constipation and how eating a low glycemic diet (low carb diet) will remedy the situation. High carb diets cause intestinal inflammation, negatively effect your gut micro biome, cause intestinal permeability (leaky gut), and damage the nerves in your intestines. All of which contribute to chronic constipation.
Inflammation caused by Insulin Resistance can be linked to 13 different types of cancer. To add fuel to that flame, the growth effect of insulin, which we discussed earlier, only encourages cancer cells to continue to increase in both number and size. In fact, to get tumor cells to grow in a lab, insulin must be used. In the other direction, cancer cells cannot be developed or maintained in a lab without the use of insulin. They simply will not grow without it.
Insulin resistance also diminishes your body’s immune response to infection. We are seeing the effects of that with the most recent pandemic. The majority of patients with poor outcomes or even death from the disease that shall not be named due to censorship (Despite study after study proving my point) had Insulin Resistance. The poorer the metabolic health, the poorer the outcomes in most cases.
So, cancer causing inflammation along with growth hormone effects and reduced immune response to infection create the perfect storm in developing cancer and make it all the more difficult to fight off if you can at all.
Here are some studies and articles that outline this information.
These are just some of the effects that Insulin Resistance has on our bodies and our overall health. It’s a lot to take in and just looking into each section mentioned above can take a lot of time as there is far more information about these effects and causes than I can fit into one article.
Doctors and medical professionals don’t share this information with you because the wheat and sugar industry pay for the study material that is taught in the universities and educational system. And they also fund the studies that are conducted by the scientific and medical community and industry. They have a vested interest in pushing their product and control a vast majority of what doctors learn. This country was built with the help of wheat, corn, and sugar and these industries have paid their way into our educational and medical systems.
Not to mention the pharmaceutical industry that garners just as much, if not more control over what is taught in the medical field and what information government agencies put out about health and diet.
Something to keep in mind is that what the FDA and what mainstream doctors are prescribing (Low- fat high-carb diets and all the medication one can ingest) is simply not working. As a nation we are sicker now than ever before and the situation is becoming more dire with each year that passes.
If you’re suffering from any of the above-mentioned conditions, please give the low-carb high-fat diet a try. The most important thing to remember is to get the processed food and sugars out of your diet and life and stick to eating only or at least mostly whole foods. When you do that, you will inevitably be following a low carb diet and reversing your Insulin Resistance.
Alexandros Tsoupras, Ronan Lordan, and Ioannis Zabetakis (2018) Inflammation, not Cholesterol, Is a Cause of Chronic Disease. National Center for Biotechnology Information ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Metin Basaranoglu, Gokcen Basaranoglu, and Elisabetta Bugianesi (2015) Carbohydrate Intake and Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: Fructose as a Weapon of Mass Destruction. National Center for Biotechnology Information ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Juliette Janson, Thomas Laedtke, Joseph E Parisi, Peter O'Brien, Ronald C Petersen, Peter C Butler (2004) Increased Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in Alzheimer's Disease. National Library of Medicine pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Anne Mullens, BSc, BJ, medical review by Dr. Bret Scher, MD (2021) The Ketogenic Diet for Alzheimer's Prevention and Treatment: Can it Help? DietDoctor.com
Bruce Goldman (2021) Insulin Resistance Doubles Risk of Major Depressive Disorder, Stanford Study Finds.Stanford Medicine med.stanford.edu
Sefirin Djiogue, Armel Hervé Nwabo Kamdje, Lorella Vecchio, Maulilio John Kipanyula, Mohammed Farahna, Yousef Aldebasi, and Paul Faustin Seke Etet (2013) Insulin Resistance and Cancer: The Role of Insulin and IGFs. Edocrine-Related Cancer https://erc.bioscientifica.com/
Biagio Arcidiacono, Stefania Iiritano, Aurora Nocera, Katiuscia Possidente, Maria T Nevolo, Valeria Ventura, Daniela Foti, Eusebio Chiefari, Antonio Brunetti (2012) Insulin Resistance and Cancer Risk: An Overview of the Pathogenetic Mechanisms. National Library of Medicine pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
P Hillon, B Guiu, J Vincent, J-M Petit (2010) Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes and Risk of Digestive Cancer. National Library of Medicine pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2021 Katie DeBakey