BIG Bellies – drugs or lifestyle change?

belly_fat_diabetes_baucominstituteWe have a major problem in our society . . . we’re fat! Especially in the belly. Why? Are some of us presupposed by our DNA to struggle with weight? Are we just lazy? Is it all because of what we eat?

Let’s break it down.

  • There are an estimated 23.6 million people in this country with diabetes.
  • There are another 57 million with high blood sugars
  • Between 2000 and 2010, the prevalence of a BMI >40 kg m(-2) (type III obesity), calculated from self-reported height and weight, increased by 70%
  • Approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2—19 years are obese. (CDC)
  • Since 1980, obesity prevalence among children and adolescents has almost tripled.

It all comes down to insulin resistance.

What does insulin do? It helps the body utilize glucose – it’s really the key that unlocks the cell door so glucose can pass into it from the bloodstream. Once inside the cell, glucose is used either for energy or stored for use later in the form of glycogen in the liver and muscles. belly_fat_metabolic_syndrome_baucominstitute

Insulin resistance occurs when a normal amount of insulin is not able to open that cell door so the body secretes even more insulin in an attempt to maintain normal blood glucose levels or when there aren’t enough insulin receptors (the average overweight person has 75% less receptors).

So, glucose stays in the bloodstream which is sent to the liver and then converted into fat and then stored throughout the body. These fat cells are even more insulin resistant and often coalesce near the middle – a lot of belly fat. Other symptoms are: headache, day-time drowsiness, insomnia, fatigue,  frequent illnesses, sugar cravings, erratic and insatiable appetite.

And then there’s Metabolic Syndrome – Syndrome X a result of having three or more metabolic risk factors: insulin resistance, elevated blood pressure, abdominal obesity, high lipids – TG, LDL, etc.

What’s the treatment? Do we treat the problem with drugs or with lifestyle changes?

3200 adults with impaired blood sugar control were put into three groups:

  • Metformin (drug)
  • Exercise 150 minutes per week (lifestyle)
  • Usual Care

After three years, there was a reduction in progression to diabetes:

  • 58% in lifestyle group
  • 31% in drug group

In 2008:

  • two clinical trials revealed that diabetic patients on antidiabetic medications gained no significant protection from heart attack and stroke
  • a third study was ended when interim results showed more deaths in volunteers using diabetes drugs for intensive blood sugar control.

So what’s the answer? Lifestyle change – the right nutrition and exercise. It’s simple. Age old. Cliche. But it works. We just don’t want to have to change.

Nutrition -

  • 30% protein with high fiber and avoidance of starch, sugary carbs
  • abundant greens and fresh vegetables
  • frequent ginger, garlic, curcumin, oregano, onions
  • avoidance of refined processed foods like pasta and bread
  • Avoidance of artificial sweeteners and sugars
  • Intake of nuts, legumes and lentils

Supplements -

  • Herbal treatments – Fenugreek, Guar Gum, apple pectin, beet powder, oat fiber, etc.
  • Niacin
  • Lecithin
  • Vitamin E
  • Nattokinase
  • Fish oil
  • magnesium
  • Green Tea, etc.

A restorative or naturopathic physician should always be consulted when creating a pathway to change when dealing with insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome.

What are your thoughts on treatment insulin resistance leading to metabolic syndrome?