Heart disease, stroke, thyroid, diabetes, arthritis, and Alzheimer’s – these chronic diseases are the most common and costly health problems in the United States. What’s worse, is these chronic issues are largely lifestyle diseases, meaning they are often influenced by our style of living, such as diet and exercise. More importantly, these chronic issues can be prevented by changing our daily habits.
Today, many Americans consume a diet high in refined sugar, carbohydrates and fat. This combination negatively affects our body’s blood sugar balance and ultimately causes inflammation. Along with lack of exercise, these diets underpin the development of many chronic diseases today. At Camarillo Functional Health, Dr. Michael Veselak focuses much of his work with chronic cases on decreasing inflammation in the body. In the majority of chronic cases, this inflammation is usually systemic, meaning the whole body is involved. Thus, Dr. Veselak uses a functional medicine approach when confronting chronic illness, as to find the source of the inflammation and treat the cause of the disease, rather than continue to mask the symptoms with medicine.
Insulin resistance: a stepping-stone to diabetes and other chronic diseases
The primary responsibility of a healthy immune system is to recognize what does and does not belong in the body. This applies not only to germs and environmental toxins, but to foods as well. This is especially important in terms of blood sugar and insulin. The body has several ways to keep blood sugar within a narrow range so it doesn’t go too high or too low.
Certain foods, such as grains, dairy, GMO’s, and trans fats are extremely inflammatory in nature because they cause a quick spike in glucose. Our body manages this rise in blood sugar by releasing the hormone insulin to send the glucose to our cells for energy. However, insulin is extremely inflammatory and can quickly cause chronic systemic inflammation. Eventually, the constant surges of insulin exhaust the body’s cells and they refuse entry to the insulin, called insulin resistance, a stepping stone to Type 2 Diabetes. Now, insulin can’t escort glucose into the cells to make energy. As a result, chronic fatigue can often become an unwelcome side effect.
Because the cells can no longer absorb glucose, blood sugar climbs too high. In an attempt to lower blood sugar to a safer level, the body responds by converting excess glucose into fat for storage. This process also leads to chronic fatigue after meals. The excess sugar in the bloodstream also damages blood vessels and the brain.
Reduced uptake of glucose by cells, high triglycerides, and high circulating amounts of sugar in the bloodstream all promote the inflammation and damage that leads to chronic disease. To make matters worse, the chronic fatigue often associated with insulin resistance often leaves people too tired to exercise, prone to overeating, and intense sugar cravings. If left untreated, this breakdown in the body’s immune system can turn to more serious chronic issues, including heart disease, stroke, cancer, arthritis, and Alzheimer’s to name a few.
One of the best ways to prevent or manage chronic disease is to eat a diet that stabilizes blood sugar and reverses insulin resistance. This includes a whole-foods diet free of added sugars and refined carbohydrates, plenty of fiber, and healthy proteins and fats. Regular exercise is also very important to increase insulin sensitivity. Certain nutritional and botanical compounds have been shown to improve blood sugar handling and manage insulin resistance.
If you are experiencing symptoms of blood sugar irregularity, such as fatigue, weight gain, constant cravings for sweets, increased appetite and thirst, and migrating aches and pains, it is important that you take the necessary steps to regulate your immune system. It is never too late to regain your health!
If you have questions regarding your specific case, or would like to know more information, contact Dr. Michael Veselak at (805) 482-0723.