You may have noticed that many diet books tell you that their diet method is the best because it’s proven to help you lose body weight.
“…And?” I think to myself.
I take some issue with many of these diet books. So often, the pages are full of simple and repeated messages that lack in-depth explanation of how the steps actually affect your body. There is an assumption that the reader doesn’t want to know why it works but only that the reader can and should believe it does. I need a bit more convincing these days. And I want so much more from my dietary changes. I want real and lasting health benefits. I consider many of these books as the literary equivalent of snake oil. Caveat emptor – let the buyer beware.
It may be a worse assumption, however, to believe that treating symptoms like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or obesity separately – as though they were diseases in and of themselves – will bring about a person’s overall health. Dr. Ron Rosedale makes clear that this is an assumption we cannot afford to make in the pursuit of our health. This is Part 1 of Rosedale’s ideas about insulin resistance as the root cause of symptoms such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and the inflammatory diseases plaguing us today. I am paraphrasing from a 1999 lecture transcription available here: http://drbass.com/rosedale2.html. I will be including some other information as I look into some of his claims and discussion points.
After some mention of patients that Dr. Rosedale successfully treated, he clarifies that all the patients suffered from one root cause: aging. In looking at the commonalities among centenarians, Rosedale makes note that low blood sugar, relative to one’s age, appears to be a contributing factor to slowing the onset of age-related diseases. Indeed, in centenarian studies I was able to find, low blood sugar relative to age was a commonality mentioned. A person’s ability to take stressful events in stride, though, was the commonality most linked to a long life. But let’s get back to stress later. In the meantime, it seems worth mentioning here that Penny Burns, R.N. also notes in The Health Journal that the Institute of Natural Resources points to managing one’s blood sugar level (between 80-100 mg/dL) as one of the healthier common habits among centenarians that people should consider for themselves (http://www.thehealthjournals.com/2011/01/secrets-of-the-centenarians/).
At this point, none of this seems surprising to me. Don’t overdo the sugar — we know this already (or we should). It is well established in health communities that controlling blood sugar is a protective measure against the development of diabetes and insulin resistance. The lay health enthusiast may not understand, though, that slowing the development of insulin resistance (inevitable in all of us) also slows the development of the chronic inflammatory diseases that we often focus on. In the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, D. Craig Willcox, PhD (et al) mentions the connection between insulin and inflammation in reference to his study of the Okinawan diet: “Although the concept of atherosclerosis as an inflammatory disease is now well established, chronic inflammation is also very likely involved in the pathogenesis of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes and may represent a common pathogenic step in a host of other chronic diseases” (http://www.jacn.org/content/28/4_Supplement_1/500S.long). This connection will also be important to remember in a later post.
Here is a smattering of inflammatory diseases that are the result of oxidative stress that is partially linked to high sugar intake (sugar in ALL it’s forms):
- Crohn’s disease
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Parkinson’s disease
So, let’s take a breath here and review. Really old people get to be really old with a slower onset of the diseases of aging in part because they manage their blood sugar levels (conscious of the medical indications or not) and keep low relative to their age. Managing blood sugar levels is the health measure often taken to prevent against diabetes and insulin resistance. In other studies, insulin resistance and high sugar intake (lots of grains, foods made with grains, potatoes, beans, sweet fruits, sugary drinks, etc.) have been linked to inflammatory diseases. We are aging ourselves way faster than need be the case.
Many in the medical community are tentatively making connections between inflammation and heart disease (see link below), but Rosedale seems more certain of the tie. And, as Rosedale explains, treating these inflammatory diseases symptom by symptom doesn’t address what he believes to be the root cause. He insists that the focus should be aimed at “the molecular and cellular level.” Otherwise, our efforts to combat the symptoms may counteract important protective measures our body takes. One example he gives is the use of HMG coenzyme reductase inhibitors (statins) to reduce cholesterol. Statins shut off the body’s production of CoQ10 even though CoQ10 has the highly beneficial cellular energy boosting properties that are important in the treatment of a weakened heart. There are even rumblings in health circles that LDL may have less to do with heart disease than previously perceived (http://www.wellnessletter.com/ucberkeley/feature/inflammation/#). Again, as Rosedale says, we have to look for the key at the molecular and cellular level.
Next post, I’ll show more of Rosedale’s connections between blood sugar levels, insulin resistance, and disease. Thanks for following along.