We need to start this out with the understanding that nothing in our bodies are inherently “bad” or “good.” They ALL serve a purpose. Saying that we need to lower our “bad” (LDL) cholesterol is fine and dandy if down with lifestyle, but if done with medications can increase the risk for depression, Alzheimer’s and probably a bunch of other stuff we’re not aware of yet.
So what about insulin? Far too many diabetics think they can eat stuff they shouldn’t and just increase the insulin they give themselves. In the ACCORD trial, researchers tried to give diabetics more and more insulin with the single goal of lowering HbA1C levels as far as possible.
Insulin, when released by the pancreas and functioning in a healthy human, is absolutely essential for health. The goal with insulin is to have it work as as efficiently as possible (called insulin sensitivity) so our body needs to release as little as possible. There are few aspects of human physiology more important than making sure insulin and the cells of our body play well together. The less insulin needed, the better the insulin plays with the target cell, the longer we will live. It’s that simple.
So, whether we are pre-diabetic, Type 1 diabetic, Type 2 diabetic or any other type of human, a lifestyle that improves the relationship between the cell and insulin is integral to health. That means exercise–both aerobic and strength training. And just walking is NOT going to be enough, unless you’re over 80. That means avoiding as many environmental chemicals as possible–things like BPA in plastic water bottles worsen insulin action. Stress reduction–stress increases cortisol, which sucks muscles and turns them into sugar. Lots of fruits and veggies and spices. NEVER drink your calories. Calorie restriction without nutrient restriction–do you REALLY need that whip cream on top of the venti mocha? Increased intake of healthy fats–nuts, seeds, wild caught fish, omega-3 eggs, grass fed meets.
This particular study just drives home the importance of the relationship between insulin and longevity. The SIRT1 family of genes is related to living longer. This is pretty well established. It’s why resveratrol in red wine and calorie restriction work so well. So, activation of SIRT1 will lead to a longer lifespan.
This particular study found that insulin actually suppressed activation of SIRT1. NOT a good thing. Again–making insulin act efficiently in your body means you will need less of it. It means that using more insulin in diabetics will kill you, as we indeed saw with the ACCORD trial, which was stopped because participants were dying at a faster rate with lower HbA1c from insulin use. It means poor lifestyle choices will rob you of years of healthy living. Period.