Tag Archives: Insulin Resistance

Leptin Resistance | The Paleo Diet

What’s all the buzz about leptin? With over half the American population trying desperately to lose weight,1 it’s no wonder we’ve become fascinated with a hormone that prompts us to think obesity or starvation.

Robert H. Lustig, MD, professor of pediatrics at UCSF and a member of the Endocrine Society’s Obesity Task Force explains “Leptin is a protein that’s made in the fat cells, circulates in the bloodstream, and goes to the brain; it’s the way your fat cells tell your brain that your energy thermostat is set right…and you have enough energy stored in your fat cells to engage in normal, relatively expensive metabolic processes.” Dr. Lustig goes on to discuss that levels are likely genetically set for each person. When an unbalance occurs exceeding your leptin threshold, the brain responds to the energy sufficiency, allowing you to “burn energy at a normal rate, eat food at a normal amount, engage in exercise at a normal rate, and you can engage in expensive processes, like puberty and pregnancy.”2

When the body doesn’t respond to the signal, it cannot stimulate your metabolism or suppress your appetite, inducing leptin resistance. This can make losing weight difficult if not impossible. With insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, and ultimately a diagnosis of Type II Diabetes on the rise, so too are the number of individuals diagnosed with leptin resistance.

The Standard American Diet (SAD), leading a predominantly sedentary lifestyle, too much stress, and not enough sleep all contribute to leptin resistance.3 Assessing whether leptin resistance is contributing to shedding stubborn pounds once and for all, shouldn’t start with the notion of a magic bullet, but an overhaul of lifestyle.

Sure, it’s easy to find leptin supplements online that promise the oomph you need to kickstart your new weight loss regime. But are they effective? Not according to research.

Because leptin is a digestible protein that doesn’t enter the bloodstream, the body just breaks it up. Further, leptin supplements sold online don’t actually contain leptin, but rather ingredients that are purported to help improve leptin functioning or feelings of fullness.4

So what’s the answer? As always, we need to go back to basics and look at the problem, rather than the symptom.

Leptin and insulin communicate and work in conjunction with other hormones to control our energy balance and as insulin levels rise, so do leptin levels. If we start by following a balanced, Paleo eating plan, which prevents blood sugar spike to begin with, we regulate our blood sugar and leptin release, reducing our chances of developing leptin and insulin resistance.

The takeaway: stop doing your body a disservice. Ask yourself:

  1. Am I eating right?
  2. Are my macronutrients balanced?
  3. Is my food timing in check?
  4. Am I exercising regularly?

If you answered ‘No’ to any of these questions, you may be hindering your weight loss and setting yourself up for additional adverse effects, like increasing your risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and other metabolic diseases.

“With obesity, leptin cannot tell our brain to stop eating, but it can still tell our brain to increase the activity of the cardiovascular system,” said Dr. Eric Belin de Chantemele, physiologist in the Department of Physiology at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University. 5

Researchers have also shown that fat-derived leptin directly activates aldosterone synthase expression in the adrenal glands, resulting in production of more of the steroid hormone aldosterone. Increased aldosterone directly effects blood pressure by regulating salt-water balance in the body, contributes to widespread inflammation, blood vessel stiffness and scarring, enlargement and stiffness of the heart, and impaired insulin sensitivity. High levels of aldosterone are an obesity hallmark and a leading cause of metabolic and cardiovascular problems6

Avoid widespread inflammation. Stop insulin resistance in its tracks. Keep blood sugar low. These three key health tenants fit the bill and are easily achieved by following a Paleo diet. Add a little patience into the mix and avoid the urge for ‘get results fast!’ and Viola! We give our bodies the time to calm inflammation, shed the extra weight, and reset its hormonal cascade.

Take action now, before you need medical intervention!

References

1. “Americans’ Desire to Shed Pounds Outweighs Effort.” Gallup.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Oct. 2015

2. “Leptin Hormone & Supplements: Do They Work for Obesity & Weight Loss?” WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 19 Oct. 2015

3. Galland, M.D. Leo. “Leptin: How to Make This Fat-Burning Hormone Work for You.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, n.d. Web. 19 Oct. 2015

4. “The Facts on Leptin: FAQ.” WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 19 Oct. 2015

5. “Satiety Hormone Leptin Plays a Direct Role in Cardiovascular Disease in Obesity.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, n.d. Web. 19 Oct. 2015

6. Anne-Cécile Huby, Galina Antonova, Jake Groenendyk, Celso E. Gomez-Sanchez, Wendy B. Bollag, Jessica A. Filosa, Eric J. Belin de Chantemèle. The Adipocyte-Derived Hormone Leptin is a Direct Regulator of Aldosterone Secretion, Which Promotes Endothelial Dysfunction and Cardiac Fibrosis. Circulation, 2015; CIRCULATIONAHA.115.018226 DOI: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.115.018226

polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) | The Paleo Diet

Folks,

If you haven’t heard, a research team at the University of California – San Francisco — Lynda Frassetto, MD, Umesh Masharani, MD, Heather Huddleston, MD, Michael Cohn, PhD, and Ashley Mason, PhD — is getting ready to conduct a study of dietary treatments polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). They will test a Paleolithic Diet and an American Diabetes Asssociation diet to see if either or both improves insulin resistance and menstrual cycle regularity for women with PCOS.

They cannot do it alone, however. As many of you can imagine, it is difficult for researchers to land funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to do nutrition-related research in the context of disease treatment or management. This study will give them the early data they need to start large, truly definitive studies of the links between diet (including a Paleo Diet) and insulin resistance.

Please check out their crowdfunding website to learn more about the study, the researchers, and make tax-deductible donations to help this research happen. And, if you are going to AHS, one of the backer rewards is having lunch with the researchers – a pretty rare opportunity!

Click Here to Support the Study

Cordially,

Loren Cordain, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus

The Toxins Lurking in Our Food

When most people think about a Paleo Diet, they think a healthy diet, rich in whole foods, sans dairy and grains. But one important and sometimes overlooked aspect is the low toxin burden. Avoiding processed foods, artificial ingredients, and excessive pesticides and herbicides is at the very least prudent.

When asked how to “bulk up” on the Paleo Diet, two basic, yet critical concepts in nutrition come to mind.

First, there are many toxins, dietary, environmental, and otherwise, that are readily stored in our body. This was demonstrated in epic fashion, by accident, during Biosphere 2.

Biosphere 1 is Earth. Biosphere 2 was an enormous, man-made, Earth-like structure that was completely closed off from the outside world.

Biosphere

Deidos, Wikipedia Creative Commons

It was constructed to see, among other things, if a small group of people could be completely self-sufficient. On some levels, due in part to poor planning, it failed – food and oxygen needed to be added from the outside. However, eight volunteers still lived inside and collected data for two years.6, 7

The participants subsisted primarily on agriculture, but weren’t able to provide enough food to sustain themselves. They could only raise approximately 1,800 of the estimated 2,500 calories necessary to maintain weight. As such, all of them lost weight.

Toxins Lurking in Our Food - Graph 1

But that’s not the point of this article.

Their food was organic, herbicide, pesticide-free, and very nutrient-dense – all aspects in line with the principles of a Paleo Diet, and far different from their usual diet.

The thing that stuck with me since I visited the site over a decade ago is this:

PCBs are synthetic organic chemicals, classified as Persistent Organic Pollutants. DDE is a breakdown product of the insecticide DDT. Both are toxins.8 However, their exposure to these toxins should have been extremely low. So why did they suddenly appear in their blood?

These toxins, like many others found in processed and/or inorganic foods, plastics, etc., can be stored in the body. As the participants lost weight, the toxins were released from storage and eventually excreted.4

Toxins Lurking in Our Food - Graph 2

The second concept is what these toxins can potentially do to your health and quality of life. A large body of research implicates food additives and environmental toxins as causal agents in the obesity epidemic.2 Not in the sense that they cause massive rapid weight gain overnight, but rather they cause the pancreas to secrete just a little more insulin than necessary, predisposing it to insulin resistance and the accumulation of body fat.2

Food additives, emulsifiers, preservatives, and even some artificial sweeteners have been shown to possess this ability.5

If you’re trying to gain weight, avoid toxins (dietary or otherwise): 1) to ensure a high ratio of muscle to fat mass; and 2) because some of those toxins may be stored. On the flipside, if you’re trying to lose weight, avoid toxins (dietary or otherwise) to prevent insulin hypersecretion which could decrease the rate of fat loss and slow down your progress.

William Lagakos, Ph.D.
@caloriesproper
CaloriesProper

William Lagakos, Ph.D.Dr. William Lagakos received a Ph.D. in Nutritional Biochemistry and Physiology from Rutgers University where his research focused on dietary fat assimilation and integrated energy metabolism. His postdoctoral research at the University of California, San Diego, centered on obesity, inflammation, and insulin resistance. Dr. William Lagakos has authored numerous manuscripts which have been published in peer-reviewed journals, as well as a non-fiction book titled The Poor, Misunderstood Calorie which explores the concept of calories and simultaneously explains how hormones and the neuroendocrine response to foods regulate nutrient partitioning. He is presently a nutritional sciences researcher, consultant, and blogger.

References

1. Corkey BE. Banting lecture 2011: hyperinsulinemia: cause or consequence? Diabetes. Jan 2012;61(1):4-13.

2. Corkey BE. Diabetes: have we got it all wrong? Insulin hypersecretion and food additives: cause of obesity and diabetes? Diabetes Care. Dec 2012;35(12):2432-2437.

3. Dedios, John. Bio2_Sunset_001. Digital image. Wikipedia Creative Commons. Wikipedia, 30 Sept. 2011.

4. Imbeault P, Chevrier J, Dewailly E, Ayotte P, Despres JP, Tremblay A, Mauriege P. Increase in plasma pollutant levels in response to weight loss in humans is related to in vitro subcutaneous adipocyte basal lipolysis. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. Nov 2001;25(11):1585-1591.

5. Saadeh M, Ferrante TC, Kane A, Shirihai O, Corkey BE, Deeney JT. Reactive oxygen species stimulate insulin secretion in rat pancreatic islets: studies using mono-oleoyl-glycerol. PLoS One. 2012;7(1):e30200.

6. Walford RL, Mock D, MacCallum T, Laseter JL. Physiologic changes in humans subjected to severe, selective calorie restriction for two years in biosphere 2: health, aging, and toxicological perspectives. Toxicol Sci. Dec 1999;52(2 Suppl):61-65.

7. Walford RL, Mock D, Verdery R, MacCallum T. Calorie restriction in biosphere 2: alterations in physiologic, hematologic, hormonal, and biochemical parameters in humans restricted for a 2-year period. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. Jun 2002;57(6):B211-224.

8. Wang SL, Tsai PC, Yang CY, Guo YL. Increased risk of diabetes and polychlorinated biphenyls and dioxins: a 24-year follow-up study of the Yucheng cohort. Diabetes Care. Aug 2008;31(8):1574-1579.

9. Weyer, Christian, Roy L. Walford, Inge T. Harper, Mike Milner, Taber MacCallum, P. A. Tataranni, and Eric Ravussin. “Energy Metabolism after 2 Y of Energy Restriction: The Biosphere 2 Experiment.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 53rd ser. 72.946 (2000): 1-8. Print.

The Paleo Diet And Gout | The Paleo Diet

I have a question regarding the paleo diet and gout – what is the effect of the Paleo Diet on seniors with respect to gout? I’ve heard that protein in one’s diet can have an adverse effect.

Dr. Cordain’s Response:

Gout is considered as part of a metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance is at the root of gout. Along these lines, gout was rare among pre-agricultural populations (Hunter-gatherers). Serum uric acid levels depend on the amount entering the blood and the amount leaving the blood.

The amount of uric acid entering the blood depends on the amount of it produced by the liver (1/3 from the diet and 2/3 from the body turn-over of cells) and the amount of uric acid leaving the blood depends on the kidneys’ excretion capacity. The metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance induce kidney underexcretion of uric acid. On the other hand, when the kidney is
faced with high protein purine-containing foods, serum uric acid levels decrease because the kidney increases uric acid excretion (this is an evolutionary trade-off).

So, the real problem is increased liver production of uric acid and kidney uric acid underexcretion. High glycemic load foods (as found in the typical western diet and not in The Paleo Diet) and subsequent hyperinsulinemia halt the kidneys’ capacity to excrete uric acid. Regarding liver production of uric acid: fructose, and particularly High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), decreases inorganic phosphate in the liver and this increases the production
of uric acid from purines.

The Paleo Diet helps to fight gout as is based on low glycemic load foods, high protein and no HCFS foods.

Cordially,

Loren Cordain, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus

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