Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. It is made in response to the foods that we eat. It helps keep our blood sugar levels just right.
As we age, we can become less sensitive to insulin. Doctors call this insulin resistance. If we've got insulin resistance, even foods considered healthy like oatmeal or fruit cause more and more insulin to be produced. We get sleepy after a meal with carbohydrates when we are insulin resistant, even if they are healthy foods. Why? Because too much insulin means our brain doesn't get enough of its fuel: glucose. It damages our brain to not have the glucose it needs. It increases our risk for dementia and Alzheimers according to research.1
There are ways to reverse this problem:
You can support your insulin sensitivity by adding a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to a glass of water every day, by eating sauerkraut, and making sure you eat soluble fiber, among other things.
Ignoring insulin resistance can set us on the path to Type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer's disease.
My mother died of Alzheimer's disease in 2014, so this issue is close to my heart. I was diagnosed with metabolic syndrome in my early forties. This was a part of my motivation to lose weight and begin a regular exercise program. I started doing hot yoga, increasing to three times a week, which I have kept up since 2011. I no longer have metabolic syndrome, but I have also had to switch to a paleo/modified Mediterranean diet in order to stay at a healthy weight.
My other motivation was watching my beloved mother-in-law die of pancreatic cancer. She did not eat a healthy diet in the twenty years that I knew her. Ultimately, she didn't have the building blocks needed to stay healthy. It's important to eat nutrient dense foods that rank high on the ANDI scale. If you have a history of antibiotic use, NSAID use, PTSD, or childhood trauma, you are at higher risk for leaky gut. If you have leaky gut, you need to make sure you are not eating foods too high in oxalate, a toxin produced by plants to prevent overgrazing. Even very healthy fruits and vegetables can be high in oxalates. People with a healthy intestinal tract absorb 1-2% of dietary oxalates, but people with leaky gut can absorb up to 50% of dietary oxalate. A good group to find out more about this is called Trying Low Oxalates, started by Susan Owen. She's got a group on Facebook, as well as one on Yahoo. For ease of use, I recommend the Facebook group.
Here's to your health,
Remember, Elizabeth is not a doctor. Suggestions given on this blog are no substitute for medical advice from a licensed physician, and are only meant as discussion points with your doctor.
1. Insulin Resistance and Alzheimer's Disease: Bioenergetic Linkages
Additional reading: Dr. Jill Carnahan's blog post