By Corey Schuler, MS, DC, CNS, LN
Diabetes and obesity. The prevalence of both is rising and the solutions seem complex. Blood sugar challenges cause weight gain and weight gain causes blood sugar challenges. How, does a person get off the proverbial hamster wheel and find the blood sugar/ body weight solution? The hidden answer, which may be surprising, relates to hormone balance and the critical interplay of messengers such as cortisol, estrogen, testosterone, progesterone, and growth hormone in addition to the hormones insulin and glucagon.
Blood sugar, more appropriately glucose, circulates in the blood. Its job is to fuel cells by getting inside the cell to the true machinery. The only hormone that can get glucose inside a cell is insulin which works by connecting to receptor on the outside of the cell. Unfortunately, after years of overuse, the receptors become less responsive and more insulin is required. The solution seems to be just adding more insulin. However, excess insulin causes systemic inflammation and weight gain. Yes, weight gain. Weight, specifically fat, is a metabolically active tissue causing hormone disruption and resistance of the cell to accept insulin, a term called insulin resistance. Insulin resistance usually precedes diabetes and is often referred to as prediabetes. However, if someone already has diabetes, excess fat simply makes the condition worse.
Another challenge that exists is the issue of stress. Psychological stress, chemical stress, and physical stresses all result in the release of certain hormones. This is done for survival purposes such as retreating from an angry bear in the woods. Stress hormones release glucose from cells to be used for the stress response (running, fighting, etc.). This is excellent when one actually needs to run from a bear in the woods, but strenuous on a body when done day in and day out, several times per day or even constantly. Chronic stress is not something the human body is well equipped to deal with.
That stress response wears thin as well, similarly to the development of insulin resistance. The master glands in the human body, the hypothalamus and pituitary, control all other glandular function. This includes the pancreas which secretes insulin, the adrenal glands which secrete stress hormones, and the thyroid which controls metabolism. Chronic excess secretion of these hormones cause our cells to grow tired of the stimulation and they simply fail to respond. The result is not only insulin resistance and diabetes, but also abdominal weight gain, fatigue, chronic constipation, immune dysfunction, and increased risk of osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.
While exercise is quite often the first line of defense against weight gain and blood sugar, most of the time the best intentions are not successful because we do not harness the science that is now within our hands. If an individual is deconditioned, excess exercise is a stress. Excess stress causes blood sugar to spike, thus not the right result perpetuating the cycle as discussed above! Long, slow plodding on a treadmill, bike, or elliptical quite often only results in the release of stress hormones, increased blood sugar and increased hunger. However, short bursts of intense activity, followed by an adequate amount of rest seem to support the activity of the right hormones to cause fat liberation and burn. Exercises such as 50-meter sprints to activity tolerance and several minutes of recovery are a good start. Weight training to improve muscle mass, a tissue that supports proper blood sugar stability, is vitally important. If access or the will to join a gym doesn’t exist, any resistance activity is better than nothing. Lifting boxes and moving furniture and even mowing the lawn with a push mower serve as resistance exercises. Just to punctuate this discussion of exercise, allow me to illustrate the point. Imagine if we could somehow carve a pound of fat out of your body and replace it with a pound of muscle. Now, you would still be the same weight, but your clothes might fit a bit better. Muscle takes up less space than fat does. And from a metabolism standpoint, we have a whole other story. Muscle burns more calories than fat even when you are not active. That is why the focus of exercise for fat loss is on muscle building. One can find every day exercise for modest muscle tone, but to build muscle, the activity needs to be done to fatigue with adequate rest and recovery and the proper fuel. What is important at this juncture is to make sure you have a physical examination so you can be guided on what your limits are so you don’t give yourself a heart attack! Also understand that people new to training will sweat a great deal and their sweat will be rich with salt and minerals. A trained athlete’s body has adapted to this and will retain minerals better, but those who are beginning a training program will benefit from Sole therapy using Original Himalayan Crystal Salt which both adds minerals and improves the structure and thus hydration of water into your cells as well as using it in place of table salt for cooking. Instead of just 2 minerals which are known to cause dehydration and excess stress to the body, Original Himalayan Crystal Salt contains 84 different minerals which closely match the ideal ratios that the human body needs. Water is often forgotten as a macronutrient. Most people will benefit from three liters of water each day to support colon health as well as to support kidney and cellular health but again this needs to be absorbed and thus why adding Sole, which increases hydration into cells, is so important otherwise water deficient in minerals can actually “leach out” more minerals from your body.
Most Americans eat too much. More specifically, most Americans eat too much processed food with a particular fondness for simple carbohydrates. Fruits fit into the simple carbohydrates category, but the culprits are more often soda, breads, pastas, cereals and a plethora of foods with added sugars, primarily fructose and high fructose corn syrup. These need to go, at least until the body can handle it again. Protein, especially if using resistance training, is needed and often in supplemental form. A good guide is 0.4 grams per pound of body weight up to about 1.2 grams per pound of body weight. The more training one does, the more protein he or she will need. In relation to type of protein I have seen the best results using an organic, grass feed whey protein; however, there are many options out there. Vegan proteins such as rice, hemp, and pea are becoming more popular with improved solubility. This is best especially if you have any sensitivity to dairy. Please note high protein diets can put stress on kidneys in way of calcium excretion. Therefore, it is important to alkalize the system at the same time, again why I use Sole therapy and pH Quintessence. Healthy fats such as avocado, coconut, fatty fish like salmon and tuna, and nuts play a role in rehabilitating cell receptors as well as keeping the person full so they can avoid simple carbohydrates without irritability and mood swings. Most people can’t eat enough of these foods to get a therapeutic dose which is why adding a good quality fish oil product each day to just support this is ideal. Labels can be hard to understand. They will tell you total weight of the capsule but also amounts of two important oils, EPA and DHA. The American Heart Association recommends 2000-4000 mg of EPA plus DHA when you have high triglycerides. We extend this recommendation to those at risk for cardiovascular disease, namely overweight and diabetic individuals, and prefer the high side of that recommendation. A highly concentrated capsule or liquid is best to achieve these levels.
Some critical rules or habits exist for those among us who have lost weight and kept it off according to the National Weight Control Registry. Timing of our meals plays a role in weight loss, weight maintenance and blood sugar regulation. Breakfast is indeed the most important meal of the day. In fact, 78% people who have lost weight and kept it off routinely report eating breakfast. 90% of “successful losers” exercise an hour per day. 75% of them weigh themselves every day and 62% of them watch less than 10 hours of television per week. Most practitioners in nutrition, diet and exercise circles also recommend not eating after about 8:00 pm on most days.
Excess weight and/ or blood sugar dysregulation often takes a toll on liver function as well. In fact, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) also known as fatty liver is known to be a result of excess blood sugar and body weight. Supporting liver function is vital to weight loss and stabilizing blood sugar. There are a few reasons for this. As obese individuals lose weight, the toxic intermediate metabolites of both normal metabolism and environmental onslaught are stored in fat, the toxins are liberated and either need to be excreted quickly or they are reabsorbed into the fat that is left. The brain is almost entirely made of fat making it vulnerable to the toxicity of weight loss. Supporting detoxification with sufficient green vegetables and for specific liver support look at milk thistle, dandelion, and artichoke (look for standardized extracts or products which combine them with 100 mg or more of milk thistle or 80 mg of the active ingredient silymarin) and pH Quintessence to support the whole detoxification process which is a 40:1 concentration of greens aids the removal of toxins including heavy metals from the body in a convenient three capsules per day versus a few dozen tablets or shakes and powders that need to be refrigerated and are difficult to travel with. Additionally, those with extra weight and blood sugar challenges are more often than not recipients of medications which need to be metabolized via the liver. Supporting liver and detoxification function is not just smart, it is critical.
Getting inadequate sleep has been shown to cause increased waistlines. Seven-eight hours of sleep is often required although some individuals require more, especially when beginning a new lifestyle program. In order to get to sleep and stay asleep, Herbatonin 0.3 mg is suggested to initiate the sleep cycle and help support the entire circadian rhythm. Many overweight people complain of morning fatigue and while this can be an issue of stress maladaptation, it can also be trouble getting or staying asleep at night. Herbatonin 0.3 mg is safe to take during a long program of lifestyle changes because it utilizes the amount of plant-based melatonin that the body typically makes each night. This is in comparison to high, drug-type dosages that are designed for shift work or jet lag. In addition, research into its antioxidant function and ability to reduce inflammation has considerably increased its benefits for situations like this as obesity and diabetes independently contribute to oxidative stress load.
What remains to be resolved in this weight loss dilemma is still stress. Everyone should be finding their own method of reducing unnecessary stresses or unnecessary responses to stressors. However, in modern living, it is impossible to avoid all excess stress. So, in order to support the stress response and the coordination of the hypothalamus and pituitary with all of the other glands, certain concepts must be accepted.
- Remain grounded in thoughts and authentic in actions. Meditate as research has shown decreases in post meal blood sugar, hemoglobin A1c, and blood pressure in diabetic patients.
- Jim Rohm famously wrote “We will all experience one pain or the other – the pain of discipline or the pain of regret – but the difference is that the pain of discipline weighs only ounces while the pain of regret weighs tons.” What he means by this is that inaction or failure to execute does not help in any way to avoiding failure. In fact, inaction assures failure. When it comes to stress management or health improvement, the challenges that have developed, the excuses you may have created, they are in the past. The time is now to act. There is no other time.
- Support of others is a sign of strength – train with a partner, motivate each other. Ever noticed how couples begin to look like one another after years of being together? It is impossible to move through this life as an island. We are influenced by what we read, who we spend time with, and how we communicate with others.
- Strengthen the stress response is key. - Modern living takes a toll on our bodies. Some authorities have even speculated that the human body may very well not tolerate the constant bombardment of physical, chemical, and emotional stressors. In Hans Selye’s landmark work, The Stress of Life and more recently, Robert Sapolsky’s Why Zebra’s Don’t Get Ulcers, the broad physiologic effects of chronic stress are well illustrated.
Femmenessence for women and Revolution for men are two such products. Femmenessence is actually a family of products, one for each stage of life. Since women may face body weight and blood sugar challenges at any stage, choosing the product specific to the body’s biological age is especially important. Femmenessence MacaHarmony is for a woman from puberty through her reproductive years. Femmenessence MacaLife is for a woman whose cycles are irregular due to midlife changes. Femmenessence MacaPause is for a woman who has reached menopause. These products all support hormone health and the stress response by nourishing the hypothalamus and pituitary and thus affecting the entire cascade of hormone health. In fact women, in clinical trials, lost an average of 6% of their body weight during four months of standard dosing of Femmenessence MacaPause. This was without modifying diet or exercise recommendations. Further, these products support hormone balance including healthy levels of estrogen, testosterone, progesterone, and growth hormone which have more complex roles in the stress response, but also muscle growth, bone health, cardiovascular health, and optimal weight. All of this happens without introducing hormones from outside the body. So, when it comes to impaired weight loss and blood sugar challenges, remember the following
- Address the stress and support with Femmenessence or Revolution
- Support detoxification and liver function with green leafy vegetables, milk thistle and pH Quintessence 3. Support hydration with 3+ liters of water per day and Sole (Original Himalayan Crystal Salt)
- Get a good 7-8 hours of sleep per night (Herbatonin 0.3 mg) 5. Eat for fuel, depending upon level of activity. Focus on sufficient, good quality protein.
- Train in short bursts for maximum success. Individuals should speak to their doctor before beginning an exercise program.
- Address stress factors with meditation, a training partner and “go get it” attitude
About the Author: Corey Schuler, MS, DC, CNS, LN the National Educator for Natural Health International. Dr. Schuler is a clinical nutritionist and chiropractic doctor whose practice is dedicated to hormone health and metabolism using integrative medicine. Additionally, he teaches at the School of Applied Clinical Nutrition at New York Chiropractic Colleges and lectures at continuing medical education events.