Saturday, November 14, 2015

Insulin Resistant: the result of our blood tests.

My hubby (I call him that, although, technically he's my ex but we are back together and better than ever) and I received our results yesterday from our blood tests. We both did the same tests: Fasting Insulin, Fasting Glucose, HbA1C, HDL, Triglycerides and Vit D3.

I am fine, everything is well within normal to good for me, except for my Vit D3 which is low. According to the Banting Buddy coach who I went through to get these tests done, 99% of South Africans are low on this. Which I wouldn't have thought, considering we live in a sunny country and spend time outdoors braaing, enjoying our coast, our wildlife and our sports. But as she pointed out to me, mostly we are outdoors wearing clothes, sunscreen, hats and, as women, make-up. She also said that for the skin to synthesize the sunshine into Vit D3, we would need not to bath or shower for 12 hours so that the "sun"stays on our skin. Who knew? The irony is that when she suggested I test for Vit D3, I told her I didn't think it necessary due to the fact that I live along the coast and spend time outdoors with my son. Luckily I took her advice and tested because we need this hormone (it's actually a hormone) to utilize the calcium and build new bone. (That's what I understood from her, anyway. I will have to google a little more to really understand.)

So if you are reading this, chances are you are deficient too. So please supplement really well, or get tested.

My hubby's reading were almost the total opposite of mine. His Vit D3 is fine (although it could be higher) but all his other readings are not good. The numbers they want high are low, the numbers they want low are high for him. Turns out, he is insulin resistant, and basically at the first stage of Diabetes Type 2.

YIKES.

Say what? I could hardly believe my ears and then, later, when I looked at our results, my eyes. We are talking about MY hubby, who is a huge, muscular guy who gyms 4 or 5 days a week and eats (mostly) "right". By which I mean, for the past three years or so, he has followed (lead by my example, unfortunately) a low-fat, heart-healthy gym-diet of lean meat, loads of veggies and some fruit and "good"carbs. I say all of this ironically, as it turns out that this diet is being disproved as being healthy. And we have the evidence. If this low-fat, gym-going lifestyle were that good, he should be healthy. But he is not. He has all the markers for metabolic syndrome and his body is Insulin Resistant.

I actually feel somewhat guilty, now, because I was the one who put him on this "healthy" path. You see, five years ago he was diagnosed with hypertension (high blood pressure) and his total overall cholesterol was high (which we now know is irrelevant, it's the different types of cholesterol and blood lipids that matter) and so the doctor put him on blood pressure medication and told him to try to lower his cholesterol with diet and exercise. And so I went on a mission to get us healthy. And it seemed to work. He came off his blood pressure medication and his cholesterol came down (which, again, we now know is not necessarily a good thing, as it could have been his good cholesterol that went down). He got back into gym and we ate lean steak, dry chicken breasts and veggies most nights, along with oats, whey protein shakes and then we did the obligatory cheat meals on the weekends. I say "obligatory" because it is understood in hardcore gym circles that you need a cheat meal or two in order to sustain such "clean" eating during the rest of the time.

Thinking back, that doesn't compute. I don't know how on earth I ever let that bad advice into my consciousness. The truth is, I did find it weird. I remember questioning all this when I got a diet (at my request) from my personal trainer, and then got more diet advice from a hardcore bodybuilder. The advice was not totally terrible: meat, non-starchy veg, sweet potatoe and oats...all generally good foods...but very little fat included. Way too little. And the eating every 2-3 hours is also terrible advice because then you are constantly putting some glucose into your bloodstream which means that you have to constantly secrete insulin. No good.

I now see the error of my ways and I will definitely write a more detailed post about that but for now, we are dealing with this huge wake up call.

I am lucky, VERY lucky, that I have normal, healthy readings. Because I too have had about two years of intensely low-fat dieting. The thing is, I found that eating very low-fat to be very hard to sustain. At first it was easy, probably because my body had good healthy reserves of fat to use up (and I don't mean on my body, as I wasn't really overweight) but probably internal fat supplies. Then, I found that I cheated a little more on the diet. Then I started to get strong and uncontrollable sweet cravings. I craved chocolate and cakes like you cannot believe. After one competition (I used to compete in bodybuilding competitions in case you didn't know that part about me) I ate a whole tray of Woolies cupcakes in one sitting, plus some other desserts. My stomache was sore and bloated and yet I continued eating.

This type of eating is sick, it's insane, and probably, it's very, very dangerous for your blood sugar and insulin. I had no idea about all this back then. No one told me. No one warned me. In fact, because I was weight training and remaining so lean, everyone complimented me and told me that I could clearly eat whatever I wanted and how lucky I was. Well, yes, I was lucky...lucky that my insulin was taking care of clearing out the glucose I was ingesting. Lucky that I wasn't insulin resistant. But looking at what I was doing and how I was eating (starving and then binge eating) I am truly surprised that I haven't developed insulin resistance. I guess the saving grace was that I was burning off so much glucose with gym training. Phew. And apparently, exercise increases the cells receptivity to insulin. I am truly lucky. And I am still young-ish. Who knows what will happen or could have happened to me in a few years time?

But the point of this post is that even if you are lean, or go to gym faithfully, does not mean you are safe. A lot of it is what you put in your mouth. And as much as we might look healthy, it doesn't necessarily reflect what's going on inside of us.

In fact, I now see a whole new picture: these bodybuilders and gym girls may in fact be quite sick on the inside. They look the perfect picture of health, which is what drew me to the sport and to gym. I wanted to look glowing and ripped and lean and muscular, just like them. I still want to look like that, (who doesn't, really?), but not at the expense of my true health.

What an eye-opener these tests were.

The next step now is to get my love, my life-partner, to Bant strictly and then re-test in a good couple of weeks time.

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