Posted on by Teri Cochrane
Longevity isn’t a chess game – it’s a balance beam.
Maximizing our health over the course of our lifetime isn’t always about making calculated or dramatic moves, but rather the poise with which we can maintain an equilibrium. The deadliest disease states in the U.S. include heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes, with over 1.5 million Americans affected yearly. Every single one of these diseases is innately linked to metabolic health.
Metabolism is defined as “the chemical processes that occur within a living organism in order to maintain life.” Though this definition may seem broad, it strikes at a core principle of my methodology – maintenance, or ‘balance.' If we cannot manage the key functions that keep our bodies in a balanced state – like circulation, breathing, digestion, detoxification and, vitally, blood sugar – we lose our grip on our own health.
Insulin is one of the key players that keeps us on track for longevity. According to one endocrinologist’s study, “preserved insulin sensitivity has been associated with longevity [while] insulin resistance has been shown to predict the development of age-related diseases, including hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer, and type 2 diabetes."
As the hormone responsible for ushering glucose into our cells, the ability to both synthesize and utilize insulin is essential for managing the energy supply to our muscles, organs and brain. Disrupted insulin results in a landslide of correlated stress on the body – from fatigue, to mounting hormonal imbalances, to cognitive decline and disease.
Sugar is Innately Linked to These Diseases
Studies have linked diets high in sugar to:
- Heart disease
- Non-alcohol fatty liver disease
- Thyroid disease
Each of these disease states have a key hormone in common: insulin.
When we eat, sugars and carbohydrates are broken down into glucose and released into the bloodstream. Insulin is then released by the pancreas in response to rising blood glucose levels. In a healthy body, sufficient insulin is released and allows glucose to enter our cells to be used as energy, and blood sugar is stabilized. In a body that doesn’t produce adequate insulin, such as in diabetic models, blood sugar levels become unmanageable, leading to metabolic complications.
Dietary sugar is, of course, a major player in this process. When we eat a diet that is high in sugar, we can develop what is known as insulin resistance, meaning that both insulin and glucose are unable to enter our cells. As a result, we’re left with dangerously high blood sugar and a bunch of insulin floating around our bloodstream.
This can leave us feeling nauseous, fatigued, and low-energy – and in the long term, may develop into any one of the disease states mentioned above.
Some Solutions for Dietary Sugar Intake
Limit dietary sugars
Try to limit your dietary sugars by excluding all refined sugars, such as white sugar, brown sugar, high fructose corn syrup or anything listed as ‘sugar.' Some natural sources like fruit, honey or pure maple syrup are okay to eat sparingly.
Replace simple carbs
Replace simple carbs with complex ones like wild rice, black rice, millet or quinoa. The more fiber a carbohydrate has, the longer it will take the body to break down, avoiding a sudden sugar spike.
Increase your protein intake by eating wild and complimenting natural sugars with protein powders. For example, that bowl of oatmeal or fruit smoothie in the morning will provide much better balance if there is a scoop of marine collagen, pumpkin seed protein or whey protein added.
Humanized Health - NEW!
Learn about personalized health from top experts! Check out our fascinating new shows every week, available as videos, podcasts and transcripts.:
Paula is a highly qualified and experienced nutrition counselor on the staff at Village Green.
Margo's impressive knowledge base is the result of a unique blend of educational and professional experience.
Dr. Neal Barnard
Dr. Barnard leads programs advocating for preventive medicine, good nutrition, and higher ethical standards in research.
Dr. Joseph Pizzorno
Dr. Joseph Pizzorno, ND is a pioneer of integrative medicine and a leading authority on science-based natural medicine.
Debi is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition, a personal trainer, and whole health coach.
Teri is a is a Certified Coach Practitioner with extensive certifications and experience in holistic medicinal practices.
Dr. Rav Ivker
Dr. Rav Ivker is a holistic family physician, health educator, and best-selling author.
Susan writes about the connection between plant-based diets and a reduced risk of chronic diseases.
Dr. Rob Brown
Dr. Brown's blended perspective of healthcare includes a deeply rooted passion for wellness and spiritual exploration.