Recent advances in dietary science have highlighted the crucial role of insulin in weight gain. Produced in the pancreas, insulin is a critical hormone for the control of blood sugar (glucose). Its job is to transport glucose into cells, where the glucose is burned as fuel. While this process is necessary for life, abnormalities in the insulin-glucose system caused by aging, lack of exercise and poor diet can cause major health problems. In aging, cells become more resistant to the effects of insulin. As cells become increasingly insulin resistant, the body compensates by increasing the number of insulin receptors on cells and secreting more insulin in an attempt to drive more blood sugar into muscle and liver cells (Fulop 2003).
Insulin resistance is a dangerous condition. Research suggests that adipose tissue (fat) is a source of pro-inflammatory chemicals that have a role in the development of insulin resistance (Sharma AM et al 2005). Insulin resistance is associated with obesity (in particular, abdominal obesity) (Greenfield JR et al. 2004). It is also associated with aging muscle (Nair KS 2005), physical inactivity, and genetics.
This increase in insulin (called hyperinsulinemia) and decreased insulin sensitivity have a number of harmful effects, including contributing to diseases associated with being overweight (Zeman et al 2005; Garveyet al 1998)
Over time, high insulin and insulin resistance may lead to type 2 diabetes in susceptible individuals, a major risk factor for heart disease. A study sponsored by the NIH showed that over a 10-year period, hyperinsulinemia was associated with increased all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, independent of other risk factors (NIH 1985).
Controlling insulin levels as we age is essential for overall health, longevity, and weight management. An increasing number of physicians recognize the role of insulin resistance in the current obesity epidemic. The good news is that nonprescription drugs and low-cost dietary supplements that have demonstrated beneficial effects upon insulin action are already available.
Fiber Reduces Insulin Spike
When it comes to weight loss, fiber has not received the attention it deserves. The recent focus on carbohydrates has led some people to reduce their intake of whole fruits and some vegetables because these foods contain carbohydrates. By doing this, those dieters deprive themselves of the many benefits of a naturally fiber-rich food source
According to the American Heart Association (AHA) , we should consume about 30 g or more of fiber every day.The actual average consumption, however, is between 12 and 17 g (AHA 2005; NCI 2005).
Consumed before a meal, soluble fiber has multiple benefits. First, it is filling and causes people to eat less because they are satiated sooner
Equally important, consuming fiber before meals can reduce the rapid absorption of simple carbohydrates (such as refined sugar) and modulate blood sugar levels (Anderson et al 1993). A review of clinical studies of fiber shows that it has numerous weight-loss benefits.
Soluble fiber is found in oat bran, barley, vegetables, fruits, and other foods. However, for weight-management purposes, it is important to have soluble fiber before every meal. Therefore, soluble fiber supplements (such as powders or capsules) should be kept where meals are consumed, such as the kitchen or the office.
Some people shy away from fiber because they experience lower bowel disturbances if too much fiber is consumed at first. This can be avoided by beginning with a low dose of fiber before each meal and gradually increasing doses over a two- to three-week period. Once the body adjusts to increased fiber intake, gastrointestinal side effects usually disappear.
How to Use Fiber Supplements
The type of dietary fiber to use is an important consideration. To help induce weight loss, purified soluble dietary fibers, such as pectin, guar, psyllium, glucomannan, alginate, and beta-glucan, help normalize blood glucose and have an antidiabetic effect (Trepel 2004).
The typical dose for soluble fiber drink mix is 8 to12 g taken before meals. Begin with only 4 g before each meal for the first week or two to allow your digestive system to adjust to higher fiber intakefurther reading here