Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Wisdom Wednesday: Inflammation – Part 4

Insulin, the hormone produced by the pancreas to escort glucose into the cells of the body, can stimulate inflammation. It is the most insidious inflammatory pathway and very difficult to reverse.

Most cells in the body require adequate insulin in the blood stream to facilitate glucose absorption. However, a majority of Americans are now insulin resistant. They eat too much and too much of the wrong foods – refined carbohydrates. As the pancreas increases the output of insulin to control glucose levels, the body slowly becomes insulin resistant. This occurs long before the eventual diagnosis of Type II diabetes. It is estimated that by the year 2050, over half of all Americans will be diabetic.

Today, many of these young Americans are already insulin resistant and pre-diabetic. The systemic inflammation caused by excess insulin production is evidenced by our inability to process omega 6 fatty acids, like olive oil.

Most nutritionists recommend against supplementing omega 6 fatty acids. They claim that the omegas 6’s are abundant in our diet and that they can be pro-inflammatory. Although both of those claims are true, I disagree with their recommendations. First, the omega 6 fatty acids in our diet need to be converted to GLA (gamma linolenic acid) and many people can not make that conversion. Secondly, it’s only the people who are insulin resistant that take healthy omega 6 fatty acids and convert them to inflammatory compounds. I recommend fixing the chemistry rather than denying the body an essential fatty acid. Essential means just that, your body can not make it, it is essential to the diet.

The key, of course, is cleaning up the diet, reversing all the factors associated with metabolic syndrome – central obesity, high blood pressure, low thyroid function, high serum lipids, and insulin resistance. In the meantime, the addition of sesame seed oil, and possibly GLA, to the diet will support healthy utilization of omega 6 fatty acids and effectively block the conversion to inflammatory compounds.

I have seen uncontrolled type II diabetics, on multiple medications, cut their medication by 75% with the simple addition of sesame seed oil and GLA, while reducing their blood sugar levels from over 250mg/dL to 85mg/dL in less than 3 weeks. Simultaneously, their inflammatory complaints – IBS, musculoskeletal pain, headaches, etc. also improve markedly.

In my office, as soon as I see impaired chemistry on the omega 6 fatty acids, I suspect insulin resistance as the cause. Fortunately, the glycohemoglobin A1c is a simple blood test that tells us what your blood sugar has been averaging for the past 60 days. I mention this test often in my blogs and I advise you to have this test run annually.

Diabetes is epidemic in our county and is not only preventable, but often time’s reversible. The vast majority of pre-diabetics are undiagnosed. The odds are at least half of you reading this blog are pre-diabetic. Get an A1c performed. If you have any of the characteristics of metabolic syndrome and you suffer from inflammation, chances are your pain is being driven by insulin.