Is there any benefit to purposely spiking your insulin on occasion, to keep your system on its toes, so to speak? Someone alluded to this as a form of "training" for your glucose regulation mechanism; I'm wondering if there is any validity to the claim.
For example, is the occasional venti full sugar Frappuchino like HIIT for your pancreas?
You could think of it as training Gary, but you wouldn't want to train your pancreas in this way! When you train your muscles with a large dose of work they respond by becoming better able to handle large doses of work. When you train your body with consistently large amounts of carbohydrate and insulin it becomes more able to handle this, by refusing to listen to the insulin and thus needing ever larger doses to produce the same effect (shoving carbohydrate into cells).
Of course this is an over-simplification since insulin resistance is mediated by specific tissues becoming insulin resistant and the destruction of beta cells in your pancreas, but the general lesson holds: no HIIT for your pancreas! (High Intensity Insulin Training).
The trend seems rather like that of resistance to alcohol, rather than exercise. You might be more able to handle larger doses of poison (alcohol, excess glucose) if you have a few regular doses, but this doubtless doesn't represent stronger health!
Art De Vany made the analogy of metabolic sunburn to insulin spike and I think it is a good one.
So, my answer would be in form of a question: Any benefits to sporadically subjecting yourself to sunburn on purpose?
An important detail is what kind of carbs. Glucose is metabolized in every cell of every living creature and we have this nice insulin regulatory mechanism to deal with it. Fructose on the other hand has to be metabolized in the liver, does not generate the "full" signal, will cause obesity, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, fatty liver disease, and many others.
I don't know what a venti full sugar Frappuchino is, but the carbs in that are likely to be only about 50% glucose with the rest fructose.
A potato, on the other hand, is mostly glucose and very low in fructose, especially if it's a Russett potato. So, if you want to exercise your glucose regulation a potato would be a much better way to do it (unless you want to avoid the nightshades).
I'm not an expert on this stuff but, from what I've read, frequent spiking of blood glucose in non-diabetic individuals has been linked to:
The implication being that each spike results in some level of permanent tissue damage that accumulates over time. Not something I personally want to train!
Honestly, this is the hardest part I have about justifying cheating. I love the idea of downing a big piece of chocolate cake at a birthday party but it seems like every instance of spiking glucose has the potential to result in some level of permanent tissue damage.
Spiking insulin independent of spiking glucose is possible but it seems like some of the damaging effects are tied to the insulin.
Of course, it's possible that infrequent spiking has some benefit that outweighs the minor amount of accumulated damage but I'm not aware of any evidence that suggests this is the case.
My mom is Type 1 diabetic. I don't know everything about insulin or diabetes, but when I see insulin floated around as something bad for you (phrases like "insulin spike"), I can't help but feel puzzled. Insulin is very important in regulating blood sugar and other things. That is why diabetes is such a serious condition, because of the failure to produce enough insulin.
As for the question I don't think so. A normal functioning pancreas is what millions of years of evolution gave us. I think it does its job without the need to be "trained" by exposure to refined sugar.
I think sporadically spiking insulin is not a bad thing. It's something called carb refeeding, you can read an article about it on MDA:
It makes no sense that an insulin spike once in a blue moon would cause much damage. After all, caveman would have feasted on carbs a couple of times a year when they became available.
Interesting question, and it probably depends a lot on the definition of "occasional," (especially if we like venti full sugar Frappuchinos, and this become an excuse to turn "occasional" into "semi-regular). ;)
My own inclination would be err on the side of insulin resistance/regularity.
If you read 'Potatoes not Prozac', Dr. Kathleen Desmaisons proposes that one eats a baked potato 3 hours after your evening meal in order that you get an insulin spike during the night. This practice she 'claims' will:
"raise serotonin and keep beta endorphins at optimal levels. This changes the body’s sugar-sensitive biochemistry and has an enormous effect on self-esteem and well-being."
She also advises that this be done every night for the rest of your life - and she has an army of testimonials to say that it works. As to training the 'system' - I do not think it is so much 'training', the fact that you need to keep eating a potato every night suggests that there is not much training going on, but just a simple chemical reaction in the brain.....
"The potato creates an insulin response that effects the movement of the amino acid tryptophan from your blood into your brain. Your body uses tryptophan to make serotonin, the brain chemical that makes you feel mellow and happy." from above source
I believe that the occasional frappucino hit will cause more havoc than good to the adrenals, esp. if you are working out intesively......but the well-timed potato used to raise your feel-good factor? Well, there could be something in it....
One thing to remember is that insulin is a very powerful hormone that controls many things in the body and controlling sugar is only one of its very minor roles. In fact a pure paleo diet would very rarely see it used for this purpose. The problem is that large amounts of insulin in the blood over shadows the other finer controls. It's like whispering to someone across the room while the stereo is blasting. Their ears wont hear your tiny voice amidst the noise. Because glucose in the blood is a very delicate balancing act I prefer to let the body control it by making its own as needed, gluconeogenisis, as opposed to the big swings you get from ingesting a heap of carbs and the consequent insulin rush to quell it.
"Someone" needs to provide evidence that your glucose/protein metabolism (both of which are insulin-dependant) fails to function properly in the absence of massive amounts of dietary carbohydrates.
What "Someone" asked of you was to make a proof on non-existance, which for the majority of cases is an impossible task, e.g. "hey, I know God exists, but you can't see him! You have to disprove he doesn't exist!"
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