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Filtering by Tag: Holistic

Insulin Resistance: 3 Major Causes

Tobias McGowan

            Regulating blood sugar levels can be a complex matter involving multiple systems within the body. One of the most common challenges at the cell level is insulin resistance, which is the precursor for a myriad of serious health complications, such as type 2 diabetes. When insulin resistance occurs the insulin receptors on the cell become dysfunctional, and prevents our cells from receiving glucose (our primary source of energy) properly. This results in high blood sugar and insulin levels in the circulation, which is certainly not a place we want to be.

            Before diving into the depths of insulin resistance, it’s important to understand the basics of blood sugar handling. If you need a quick refresher, check out our article on Blood Sugar Basics. Otherwise, let’s jump in!



             Hopefully the basics have been covered and we can truly grasp what is occurring during insulin resistance. When this problem occurs, the insulin receptors located on the surface of the target cells become defective and non-responsive to the hormone insulin. Insulin attempts to make a connection with the insulin receptor, but insulin essentially bounces off because the receptor isn’t functioning properly. This forces insulin to stay in the circulation and levels to rise. Since glucose is dependent on insulin for transportation into the cell, glucose cannot enter and sugar becomes elevated in the circulation as well. The pancreas tries to compensate, due to elevated glucose levels, by secreting more insulin in an attempt solve the problem. This only makes matters worse. This is one of the major problems related balancing blood sugar levels, and maintaining energy levels. Consider the number of insulin receptors and cells in the body, it makes logical sense that there are different degrees of insulin resistance. So the goal is to address the cause of the insulin resistance, and make every attempt to increase insulin sensitivity.


The three primary factors that are related to causing insulin resistance are:

1.  Excessive stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline)

2.  Polyunsaturated fats

3.  Obesity & Estrogen



         When our primary stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline) are chronically elevated, they can cause major complications to the cell. Cortisol will counteract the action of insulin, and excessive levels will block the hormone, leading to insulin resistance. As long as cortisol levels stay elevated, insulin cannot function and cells will be deprived of glucose. This is clearly seen with cortisol medications (prednisone and cortisone injections), which elevate levels and induces insulin resistance. Cortisol also catabolizes (breaks down) protein tissues in the body to amino acids for energy purposes. If these amino acids include tryptophan (broken down from muscle tissue) they will be eventually converted to serotonin, which stimulates the pituitary gland, which further increases the release of cortisol. Serotonin also perpetuates the situation by suppressing glucose oxidation (glucose cannot be utilized by the mitochondria of the cell) and thyroid function. The other major hormone, adrenaline, creates issues as well, but does this through the break down of fatty acids. The break down of fatty acids into the circulation turns off the release of insulin. Most individuals also have large amounts of polyunsaturated fats stored, which get broken down by adrenaline and cause insulin resistance and disrupt the beta cells of the pancreas. Excessive cortisol and adrenaline are major contributing factors leading to insulin resistance and eventual diabetes.  



            Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are problematic for the pancreas (which produces and secretes insulin) and cause insulin resistance. These fats are coming primarily from nuts, seeds, certain vegetables, and their respective oil, which concentrates them and exacerbates the problem. Some common oils of concern include soy, canola, corn, and general vegetable oils. PUFAs impact the pancreas, and prolonged exposure can damage the beta cells that are responsible for secreting insulin. If this occurs there will be insulin fluctuations and glucose levels will be elevated in the circulation. PUFA’s also negatively impact the hormonal system and decrease thyroid function, which expose the body to higher levels of estrogen. Excessive estrogen can desensitize the action of insulin, encourage insulin resistance and stress the pancreas.



             There are usually little to no symptoms for insulin resistance, unless lab numbers are being checked. Unfortunately, weight gain and obesity present the most notable symptoms, which is also a direct indicator of some degree of insulin resistance. The visceral fat cells (around the organs) in the body can stimulate immune cells, and over time low levels of chronic inflammation develop. This constant inflammation and can damage cells and cell receptors that are necessary for the interaction with insulin, the cell, and glucose uptake. The progressive damage leads to insulin resistance, and the pancreas responds by trying harder and releasing more insulin. This additional insulin increases metabolic debris and chemicals that can cause more damage. Furthermore, the muscle cells get short-handed because the fat cells compete for insulin, and the insulin goes to the fat. Insulin is a storage hormone and the additional insulin encourages the conversion of glucose to more fat, creating a vicious cycle. The fat cells also store and produce estrogen. The beta cells of the pancreas have estrogen receptors, and excessive estrogen can exhaust the beta cells, which will interfere with insulin secretion. Estrogen is also highly taxing on the liver, which is deeply involved in balancing blood sugar levels. Therefore, excessive fat and estrogen create and drive further insulin resistance.       


               These concepts above highlight major contributing factors/reasons for insulin resistance. They can also be used as an outline for starting to address the problem. Anyone looking to overcome insulin resistance, or prevent it in the first place, needs to consider: stress management (various options here), avoiding PUFAs, and taking steps toward losing weight (in a healthy manner).    




1. Langer, S.E., and Sheer, J.E. Solved The Riddle of Illness. New York, NY: McGraw Hill, 2006.  

2. Peat, R. From PMS to Menopause. Eugene, Or., 1997.

3. Peat, R. Glycemia, startch, and sugar in context. 2009. Retrieved from

4. Widmaier, E. P., Hershel, R., Strang, K. T., Vander's Human Physiology: The Mechanisms of the Body Function (11 Ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill, 2008. 

Organic On A Budget

Robert Hedmond

We know eating organic can get expensive so we’ve come up with ways to get the most bang for your buck when it comes to eating organic. We’re going to explain how to eat organic on a budget, how to prioritize what to buy and why. First, let us briefly remind you of what it means when a food is certified organic.

  • No Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s)
  • No Pesticides, Herbicides, & Chemical Fertilizers
  • No Irradiation
  • No Hormones & Antibiotics

If those aren’t enough reasons to eat organic, consider that the plant gets it nutrition from the soil and that commercials soils are heavily contaminated with farming chemicals that deplete the nutrition in the soil. Therefore, properly farmed organic foods will have less chemicals (which attack the nervous and hormonal systems) and a higher nutrient content than its commercial counterpart (average of 4-40x nutrient content. Of course, it’s best to eat a 100% organic diet, but that’s not possible for most people. So what are the most important things to buy organic?

#1 Animal Products (Meats, Eggs & Dairy)

  • Animals are fed an unnatural diet ranging from genetically modified corn to sewer sludge. Antibiotics are given to deal with disease and hormones are used to stimulate growth.
  • Most commercial meats have been irradiated. Irradiation is the process of exposing foods to high doses of radiation (equivalent to ~300 million times that of a chest x-ray) to “sanitize” it. Irradiation destroys vitamins (e.g. Vitamin A by 80%), minerals, enzymes, and creates radiolytic compounds, which are toxic by-products of irradiation.
  • Fat stores toxins, which is why they feed the animals so much garbage – to fatten them up quickly.
  • The USDA has had to change the standard of what is allowable for human consumption. Now they can sell us animals that have cancer, infectious arthritis, tumors, etc.
  • Pasture-raised animals will have lower fat content + more CLA (cancer fighting agent), taste better, and the protein will be more bioavailable.
  • Always (or as much as possible) go out of your way to purchase free range organic meats, regardless of the cost.
  • Best to Worst: Local Free-Range Organic > Free-Range Organic > Organic > Free-Range > Commercial
  • Every time you buy a product coming from these factory farms you aresupporting the very practices and behaviors of these feedlots.

*For the most part, our ancestors were nomadic, meaning they followed the meat around. If meats and saturated fats were so “bad”, none of us would be here because most of our ancestors ate predominately fats, oils, and proteins. The difference is that the animals they were eating were eating their natural diets. Old foods can’t cause new diseases! Animals were an integral part of human evolution and provided us with an enormous amount of bioavailable nutrition; it is, therefore, very important to buy as close to this traditional state as possible (wild-game, grass-fed beef, pasture-raised chicken, etc.).

#2 Produce (Fruits & Vegetables) 

  • Crops that have been sprayed with chemicals have to utilize their own anti-oxidants to fight the damage. Organics will have a higher phyto-nutrient content and contain high levels of phenolic compounds, which are ten times more effecicent at eradicating cancer-causing free radicals in the body than other antioxidants like vitamin C and E.

Minerals                               Vegetable Ratio                     Fruit Ratio

Magnesium                                    60%                                    90%

Iron                                                 80%                                    70%

Copper                                           20%                                    60%

Potassium                                      90%                                    80%

*Average percent loss of mineral content in traditionally grown fruits and vegetables over a 50-year period.

#3 Grains/Nuts/Seeds/Beans 

  • America is known for producing some of the lowest quality grains in the world. Therefore, buying organic will ensure higher quality.
  • Due to poor farming, certain grains and peanuts have a high risk of containing alfatoxins, which are dangerous toxins put out by fungi. Buying organic varieties will reduce your risk of fungal infections.
  • Coffee & cocoa beans contain some of the highest chemical contents out there. Organic coffee and chocolate are always recommended.

#4 Cooking Oils/Spices/Condiments

  • ~ 90% of all non-organic spices have been irradiated.
  • Butter & Ghee have a high smoke point, are great for cooking, and should be organic whenever possible (remember fat stores toxins).
  • Common cooking oils may contain GMO’s and been highly processed.

#5 Sweets & Snacks

  • These tend to be made from low quality ingredients and are loaded with: hydrogenated and highly processed oils, chemicals, colorings, preservatives, GMO’s, stabilizers, emulsifiers, and refined sugars so buying organic will make them less harmful.
  • Organic desserts & snacks cost way more so they discourage overconsumption and overbuying. For example, a pint of commercial ice cream might cost $3.00 while Coconut Bliss costs about $7.00 :/

Sample Grocery List: 50% organic & 50% non-organic

Organic: Free-range chicken thighs and eggs, butter, yogurt, potatoes, apples, blueberries, celery, dark chocolate

Non-Organic: pineapple, asparagus, avocado, brown rice, raw walnuts, olive oil, fresh herbs, mushrooms, and beans.

Overall, organic is well worth the price. The average American spends ~ $4,000 per year on medical expenses, so investing in your health with quality foods will go a long way in preventing you from being another statistic. You'll always get less chemicals, more nutrition, and benefit the environment every time you buy organic. Go out to your local farmers market and support the small farmers!

Keep it Fresh!

Robert H.


Chek, P. “How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy”

Chek, P. “You Are What You Eat”

Chek, P. “Under the Veil of Deception: What Uncle Sam isn’t telling you about Organic Foods”  San Diego, CA

Fallon, S. (Oct. 1999) “Nourishing Traditions”

The Weston A. Price Foundation

Microwaves & Food Irradiation

Robert Hedmond


     Microwaving your foods and eating microwaved and/or irradiated foods is one of our top things to avoid if you're trying to be healthy. The use of microwave ovens and the process of food irradiation is a highly controversial topic, as are most issues on nutrition. Both processes damage foods, decrease nutrient content, over stimulate the immune system, and create radiolytic compounds and carcinogens (cancer causing agents).


  • Microwaves heat foods from the inside out by use of alternating current driven by microwave radiation which reverses the polarity of atoms, molecules and cells of the foods or water being heated 1-100 billions times per second.
  • Microwaves damage the cell wall of foods, making it less likely for the gut receptors to recognize, resulting in an immune response. The body may view these altered particles (antigens) as foreign invaders and our immune system (antibodies) will attack them. Common symptoms may show up as anything ranging from joint pain to autoimmune disorders.
  • Microwaves decrease the nutrient content in foods. Structural degradation lead to a decreased food value of 60-90% overall for all foods tested.
  • Decreases IGA antibodies by 96% in breast milk. Thats why hospitals are banning the use of microwaves to heat baby foods or formulas. If microwaving foods are so damaging for small humans, why would it be much different for us?
  • Swiss food scientist Dr. Hans Hertel found that microwaved food increased cholesterol levels, decreased both red and white blood cell counts, decreased hemoglobin, and produced carcinogenic and radiolytic compounds
  • Russian investigators found that carcinogens were formed from the microwaving of nearly all foods tested.
  • Radiolytic compounds are by products of radiation and are carcinogenic.
  • Microwaves leached carcinogenic chemicals in all packages tested into your food such as BPA, which is a potent carcinogen, increases estrogen (xenoestrogen) and decreases testosterone, PET (a petroleum derived product), and Heat susceptors (used in popcorn, pizza, etc for browning).
  • In 1991, a nurse microwaved blood before a transfusion and it chemically altered the blood so much that the lady who received it died .
  • Standing one foot away from a microwave while in use can expose you to upwards of 400 milliGauss (4 mG has been linked to leukemia).

Food Irradiation



Did you know that most foods are already zapped (irradiated) before they hit the shelves? You may be unknowingly eating foods hit with high doses of radiation everyday! The process of food irradiation is the use of radiation such as gamma radiation, caesium-137, or the linear accelerator e-beam technology to “sanitize” foods. But what else happens when we irradiate our foods?

  • Irradiation destroys vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. Up to 80% of the vitamins could be lost in the process. (Vit A, B complex, C, D, E, etc.).
  • Mutagenic and carcinogenic radiolytic compounds have been identified in studies on irradiated foods. Radiolytic compounds, pesticides, and free radicals could also form during the process to create URP’s, some of which are known toxins (formaldehyde) and some are unknown.
  • Examples of common foods that are irradiated: Wheat, Beef, Lamb, Pork, Poultry, Fruits, Vegetables, Eggs, Herbs & Spices, supplements and many more.
  • We still have problems with ecoli and other food-borne illnesses despite the use of irradiation. Sometimes only the worst bacteria survive the process while all the good bacteria is destroyed, leaving no competition for the unfriendly ones.
  • Organic foods cannot be irradiated.
  • Check out Dr. Mercola’s top 10 reasons for opposing food irradiation.

The convenience of microwaves and eating irradiated foods are at the cost of your health. You or those you know are eating dead foods and chronically being exposed carcinogens.

  • Food preparation is essential to avoid the convenience of microwave ovens.
  • Take the time to heat foods safely in the oven or on the stove.
  • Have foods already made that are enjoyable cold (chicken, shrimp, quinoa, raw veggies & fruits, etc).
  • Trash your microwave oven to eliminate temptation!

Keep it Fresh!

- Robert H.


How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy & You Are What You Eat by Paul Chek

The Body Electric by Dr. Robert Becker 

Articles by Lita Lee P.h.D, Ray Peat P.h.D, & Dr. Mercola