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Leptin, Insulin, Glucose and Weight

(Adding to the Weight Control / Healthy Eating Brew!)



The high fat and protein, low-no carbohydrate diet, recently popularised by Tim Noakes (actually the Banting and Atkins diet) is to a certain extent in agreement with what Dr Gauche has been practicing at his Weight Control Clinic since 1974 and Dr Arien since 2012, when she took over the Weight Control Clinic, because of her own challenge with metabolic syndrome. Our advice: be wise (i.e. use common sense!), choose well for your body and be healthy!

‘Dr Arien and myself (Anri van der Merwe, fitness specialist & physiologist) recently attended a talk by Tim Noakes. Although in agreement with most of the science, there were a few unclear comments made. Prof Noakes stated that the old food pyramid should be invalidated due to glucose that is produced from carbohydrates. Fact: due to a process known as gluconeogenesis the body will make glucose from proteins and fat if there is not enough carbohydratres in the body. After I asked this question at the event, he agreed. Therefore glucose is not the culprit as it is the only way body cells make fuel for energy to function. The problem arises if the wrong food is eaten, thereby causing a spike in the glucose levels, leading to elevated insulin levels, which becomes a problem when chronically elevated, leading to weight gain, inflammation and many chronic health challenges. Then Prof Noakes mentioned that ‘insulin is the fat building hormone’. This is true but only if insulin is in a chronically high concentration in the blood, which Prof Noakes forgot to mention. This is crucial to understand, because no one can live without insulin’.

In March 2014, using data from nearly 80 studies with more than 500 000 people, a new meta-analysis study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that those who consume higher amounts of saturated (stable) fat have no more heart disease than those who consume less, and are, quite to the contrary much healthier than those who follow a low fat diet. Going back to the 1970’s, fat has been wrongly identified as the culprit behind heart disease, when all along (as Dr Gauch’e has been saying since 1974), it has been too much sugar from refined carbohydrates, leading to weight gain, with chronically high insulin levels, and ultimately insulin resistance as part of metabolic syndrome, that is the real culprit.

A high sugar diet from refined carbohydrates, raises your risk for heart disease by promoting metabolic syndrome (a cluster of symptoms that includes high blood pressure, insulin and leptin resistance, high triglycerides, liver dysfunction and visceral (abdominal) fat accumulation. Insulin resistance is caused by factors inherent in our modern lifestyle, including diets high in nutrient poor, processed unrefined carbohydrates, refined sugars, refined flours and industrial grade vegetable oils. To exacerbate this, inadequate exercise, chronic stress, vitamin D deficiency, sleep deprivation, exposure  to environmental toxins, chronic inflammation and poor gut health (dysbiosis), create the list of ingredients for chronic dis-ease.

InsulinInsulin is essential for life. However, chronically elevated insulin levels, is the root cause of uncontrolled inflammation in the body, leading to almost all our modern day chronic diseases (a.k.a. health challenges).

Click here to read complete article on insulin, glucagon, sugar, stress and weight control

Leptin: another player in the glucose, fuel and energy balance game

Leptin is a hormone* that plays a key role in regulating energy intake and expenditure. With insulin and glucagon, it may be one of the most important hormones in your body that will determine your health and lifespan. Leptin increases circulating glucose, insulin and glucagon.

Both insulin and leptin resistance are associated with obesity and overweight. Impairment of their ability to transfer the information to their specific receptors, is the true cause of the chronic inflammation found in all chronic degenerative diseases.

Metabolism is the biochemistry that turns food into energy as fuel for life, and therefore insulin and leptin are both critical to health. Insulin and leptin work together to control the quality of your metabolism, and with the thyroid hormones, your rate of metabolism.

By understanding how leptin and its receptor interact, researchers believe it will be possible to find new treatments for obesity and other metabolic disorders such as type 2 diabetes, as well as inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis.

The leptin receptors on cell membranes, have two hinged legs that swivel until they come in contact with leptin. Once leptin attaches to the receptor, the legs become rigid, sending a signal to an enzyme called a kinase, which has the ability to bind inflammatory chemicals called cytokines. Inhibiting these kinase enzymes, might help improve inflammatory and metabolic disorders. However, more medicines aren’t what’s needed at all: lifestyle adjustments, with right eating, using the correct food and supplements; together with intermittent activity, interval and muscle toning exercises; combined with stress management, regular meditation and relaxation, are what’s needed to balance insulin, leptin, glucagon and your energy levels!

What is Leptin?

Leptin is a very powerful and influential hormone produced by fat cells. Fat cells, through leptin, tells the brain whether you should be hungry, eat and make more fat, or engage in maintenance and repair. Leptin is therefore the way the fat stores communicate with the brain to let your brain know how much energy or fuel, is available and what to do with it.

If your leptin messaging is working properly, when your fat stores are filled, the extra fat will cause a surge in your leptin level, which signals your brain to stop feeling hungry, to stop eating, to stop storing fat and to start burning the extra fat.

Controlling hunger is one way that leptin controls energy storage. Hunger is a very powerful, survival deep-seated instinctive drive. If this drive is stimulated long enough, it will make you eat and store more energy. Will power is no match for this! The only way to eat less in the long-term is to ensure that you’re not hungry, and the only way to do this is to control the hormones that regulate hunger, the primary one being leptin.

Leptin Resistance

Leptin resistance happens through the same mechanism as insulin resistance, therefore continuous overexposure to high levels of these hormones. If you eat a diet that is high in sugar, refined carbohydrates, refined grains and processed foods (these also cause chronic inflammation), the sugar is metabolised in your fat cells and the fat releases high levels of leptin, which will ultimately lead to leptin resistance.

The key is to restore normal leptin (and insulin) messaging to fat cells and the brain’s satiety centre, to prevent these surges, through correct eating. Therefore, correct eating can have a profound effect on your health, more so than any other known medical treatment.

*A hormone (mostly a peptide)is a chemical substance that acts as a messenger molecule or information substance in the body. After being made in one part of the body, a hormone travels to other parts of the body where it helps control how cells and organs do their work. For example, insulin is a hormone made by the beta cells in the pancreas. When it’s released into the blood, insulin helps regulate how the cells of the body use glucose as fuel for energy.

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