Scientists have long dreamed of the day when they would discover that single-agent within the human body that causes many of the illnesses that afflict and kill us. With such knowledge, we could transform the source of disease, restore the body’s biochemical balance and, thus, prevent heart disease, many cancers, diabetes, and obesity. We might even prevent serious degenerative brain disorders, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, as well as conditions that afflict children, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Such knowledge could one day form the basis for effective treatments for these conditions.
The good news is that much of this is now within your personal control. That remarkable discovery may have already been made. Not only have we identified one of the underlying sources of many serious illnesses, we are also learning how to manipulate it successfully to prevent and treat many of the diseases just named. That singular, pivotal factor, central in many of today’s disorders, is insulin, the hormone produced by the pancreas that allows blood sugar to enter cells.
Not Just Sugar
Most people know that insulin is directly involved in the development of diabetes, an illness that affects 30 million Americans and 415 million people globally, including an ever-growing number of children and young adults. One in two adults with diabetes is undiagnosed. However, the ill effects of insulin go far beyond diabetes. Insulin, scientists have found, is one of the body’s master chemicals, regulating an enormous number of other biological functions downstream.
When maintained at balanced levels, insulin ensures the steady flow of energy to your cells. It helps maintain healthy body weight, supports the health of your heart and circulatory system, and protects you from many common cancers. It also maintains your emotional health and the clarity of your mind and memory.
When it’s elevated and remains chronically high, insulin can act like a diabolical computer programmer, rewriting your cellular command codes and wreaking havoc throughout the body. Far from being just a catalyst for diabetes, elevated insulin plays a central role in virtually every major illness we face today, including obesity, heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. It may also have some role in mood imbalances and mental illness.
A Tiny Flame
One of the most baffling mysteries of disease is how it arises. What conditions allow a tiny and dangerous flame within us to become a blazing threat to our lives? Is it true that the body, for no discernible reason, suddenly breaks down, malfunctions, and sets loose a disease process? Or is it possible that an array of poisons — many of which we control — combine to target a single weak link within us, a link that, when it breaks down, sets off a terrible chain reaction?
For millions of us today, that is precisely what happens. That vulnerable link within us may be due to pathways of insulin or other important hormones and chemicals.
The Computer Programmer
Groups of researchers have studied insulin’s relationship to specific illnesses such as heart disease and cancer. Each of the groups focused on their own area of expertise. Only recently has insulin been confirmed as a possible common trigger in virtually all serious illnesses.
Insulin is a kind of computer programmer, determining where signals are sent within the human body. Depending on the skill of that programmer, we can experience good health, vitality, and efficient brain function, or we can suffer weight increases, internal chaos, and an endless variety of negative health states.
The growing awareness of insulin’s pivotal role in health is changing the way we treat disease and bringing forth a new model for health and illness.
Scientists now realize that the human body is the most elaborate and complex array of information highways.
Your body can be seen as a living, breathing supercomputer. The health of that supercomputer depends on its ability to send life-sustaining information from one cell to another. This is no different from sending a text or WhatsApp message. That same information must also be transferred to specific sites within cells so that cells function properly.
Every Cell Needs Energy
This simple hormone has such a widespread effect on health because every biological act requires energy. Cells need insulin for energy, which means insulin is involved in all human functions. The sheer ubiquity of the hormone gives it entry into virtually every nook and cranny, every cell, organ, and system of your body.
3 Tips to Managing Your Insulin
- Optimize your nutrition!Processed foods, such as bagels, muffins, pastries, candy, and soda, for example, are all rich in calories. They are also packed with the kinds of simple carbohydrates — otherwise known as simple sugars — that drive insulin levels through the roof. Foods high in fat are also rich in calories and can also contribute to high insulin levels. By keeping insulin levels elevated, these foods may contribute to all the degenerative illnesses that afflict most of us today.
On the other hand, unprocessed foods — whole grains, fresh vegetables, beans, and fruit — and many low-fat animal products are low in calories and keep insulin levels stable. This is one of the major reasons why these foods are associated with good health and a longer life.
- Make exercise a priority!Exercise, even a simple walk around the block, lowers insulin levels and makes cells more sensitive to the insulin that’s in the blood. That means that the body utilizes insulin more efficiently — a little goes a long way.
- De-stress regularly!Undoubtedly, stress drives up insulin levels, and chronic stress keeps insulin levels high. This may be one of the reasons why stress contributes to a variety of major illnesses and premature death — it drives insulin levels up.
To a great extent, we can control our insulin levels by virtue of the kinds of foods we eat, the number of calories we consume, how much we exercise, and how well we cope with stress. By keeping your insulin levels balanced, you can lower your risk for a wide variety of diseases and optimize your health!