We all know the "safe starch" argument: safe starches such as white rice, yams, sweet potatoes, yuca/cassava, taro, and even white potatoes are okay as long as you avoid sugar/fructose and harmful starches (such as wheat). Thus, tribes that subsisted on such safe starches thrived: the Kitavans, the Irish, the New Guineans, the Southeast Asians, the Japanese, etc. These tribes did not suffer from diabetes, heart disease, autoimmunity, and other degenerative diseases.
Could we extend the same argument to insulin elevation? Elevated insulin is supposedly bad because it promotes cancer development, inflammation, diabetes, AGEs and glycation, oxidative stress, and accelerated aging. Yet I wonder if the term "elevated insulin" is precise enough.
Is the issue really elevated insulin or is it elevated insulin caused directly by sugar/fructose? Compared to someone eating a low-carb diet, someone who eats a moderate to high carb diet will have more insulin, since BG will skyrocket after a meal. To bring the BG under control, insulin will have to be deployed and, within 2 hours, the BG should return to the fasting level of 85 or so.
Of course, the insulin could be elevated in LC and ketogenic diets from protein consumption. But the overall level of circulating insulin will be much less than in a moderate to HC diet.
If that's the case, is insulin elevation necessarily bad? Or is it only bad when sugar/fructose and harmful starches are involved?
Another issue is that LC and ketogenic diets are often touted by those treating cancer and neurological diseases. By flatlining insulin, it is said, you're minimizing tumor growth and cancer development. But is that really the issue or is it really sugar, which the cancer cells supposedly feed on, that's the problem (a la Gary Taubes).
Is the problem here not being precise enough in analyzing what's behind insulin elevation? Or is insulin elevation itself (whether caused by sugar or safe starches) really the problem?
asked byNamby_Pamby (5147)
Get FREE instant access to our Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!
on May 31, 2011
at 08:10 PM
Chronically elevated insulin is always a problem no matter how it arises. Like you said, high insulin in the blood stream for too long does nasty things. It doesn't matter whether it was caused by sugar or deficiencies or inflammation, it is always bad, and removing a great deal of carbohydrates from the diet can help that, although it doesn't always. You do get the case of people with such dire leptin resistance that even gluconeogenesis to fuel their brain in ketosis still elevates insulin, although most people find that less carbohydrate helps everything.
It is important to distinguish between post-prandially elevated insulin and chronically elevated insulin. In the case of good insulin sensitivity eating carbohydrate does not produce as much insulin and it doesn't stay elevated, the Kitavans can handle carbohydrate well because they eat an anti-inflammatory and nutrient-sufficient diet and have a good lifestyle. You see more circulating insulin in people with metabolic syndrome on low carb diets.
Sugar tends to feed some cancer cells, but the degree to which fructose circulates in the blood stream is questionable. It does but not in significant quantities so I don't know how much it actually "causes" cancer. My guess is not much simply by the fact that fructose can act as fuel for cancer cells.
on May 31, 2011
at 09:32 PM
hopefully one day some clever inventor will create an insulin / leptin secretion monitor that can be used the same way home glucose meters are used. That would answer SO many questions ans change the medical world as we know it ~ lowcarbJC
on May 31, 2011
at 08:51 PM
How do you know your insulin is elevated without something to monitor/measure it? Are there certain symptoms and/or feelings one can notice in their body?
on February 03, 2013
at 01:39 AM
High triglycerides are a good indication of high insulin, if high, then the insulin level should be checked. Most lab scales are 0 to 10 for a normal range. If you are over 10 then this increases risk for CAD by 4-5 times. High insulin is known to be atherogenic, directly. I say most all chronic diseases have a link to high insulin and doctors hardly ever check it. I'm a type 2 diabetic and the regular fasting glucose tests didn't catch it until I went in for pheripheral neuropathy and I had to tell them to check my glucose because they didn't have a clue as to what might be causing my neuropathy. The doctor said my blood sugars could have been at diabetic levels for over 10 years because I already had neuropathy. Doctors should really be checking insulin levels, and if high, then do an HbA1c to see how high your glucose levels have been over the past 90 days. Then you go to the doctor with super high insulin levels and they give you drugs that raise your insulin levels even more, which only makes the insulin resistance worse. Using drugs to treat a nutritional disease is a scam that only sells more drugs, which eventually kills the patient. But not to worry about diabetes business, the latest estimates are 70% of the adult American public is in pre-diabetes right now - having an HbA1c between 5.0% and 6.9%.