Metabolic Syndrome IV: Eating Below the Insulin Line

February 15, 2008

Eating Below the Insulin Line:  Strategies for a safer diet 

 Competency # 20 Lifestyles of the Long-lived                     Reference:  Dietary Strategies – A state of the Art Paper, American Journal of Cardiology, Jan 2008  pp 249-55 O’Keefe et al Refers to:  Competency 5.  Insulin, Sugar and the Glycemic Index 

 This article is huge!  Post-prandial dysmetabolism is the term.  That’s basically the post Thanksgiving Dinner Football coma we all subject ourselves to once a year.  Well, once a day?  Three times a day?  Yes, three times a day if you don’t choose your foods well. Finally, the official house of medicine is beginning to swing to a new way of defining what is state of the art.  The house is being turned upside down.  No longer is the official literature stating that we must eat low fat as our organizing principle.  

Instead, this article refers to the rush of calories that floods our bodies after meals high in processed foods. White bread, white rice, white potatoes, white sugar, and high energy density foods are the core enemy. “The hypothesis of this review is that specific dietary strategies can dramatically and immediately improve post-prandial glucose and lipid levels, inflammation, and endothelial dysfunction, and if used in the long – term will also improve cardiovascular health.”  In other words, we can fix the dangerous chemical state you are in after meals if we pick our food well.  “Resorting to drug therapy for an epidemic caused by a maladaptive diet is less rational than simply realigning our eating habits with our physiological needs.”  

In other words, eat differently.  It works better than drugs. Here’s my proposal.  What’s the insulin line?  It’s the level of “glycemic index” above which you secret insulin.  When you eat low glycemic foods, you have less of a post-meal burst in glucose.  For example, white bread and jelly is pretty quickly digested into pure glucose in your blood.  Its glycemic index is about 80, which means it’s 80% as fast as eating pure glucose.  Take that same slice of bread, turn it into whole-grain, whole wheat, and put peanut butter on it (oil slows digestion), and the glycemic drops to 50.  Something magical happens in your body below a glycemic index of about 55.  You don’t secrete as much insulin. When you don’t secrete insulin, you don’t force your fat cells into storage mode.  You don’t force your liver cells to make triglycerides.  Your inflammatory markers go down.  

What foods are below the line?  Whole foods, whole fruits, whole vegetables, whole grains, whole nuts, whole olives.  Nothing processed or artificial.  No flour.  Lots of protein.  Read the article.  I have it attached.

 WWW:  What Will Work for Me.  I’m thrilled.  This is a breakthrough article.  I believe the science will get on with details and more and more will come out about insulin.  There are fun extra tricks in the article.  I’m adding more vinegar to my diet. Vinaigrette! Lowers the glycemic index below the insulin line.  Almonds do it too!  Whey protein.  This is a tipping point.  The road ahead is much more fun, with delicious food to enjoy.

This column was written by Dr. John E. Whitcomb, MD, Brookfield Longevity, Brookfield WI, (262-784-5300)