Is it just a matter of willpower to not eat certain foods and exercise more? Yes and no, says naturopath Gill Hart, who is seeing a rising number of carbohydrate-craving insulin resistance cases.
A practitioner at RE-MED Natural Medicine Clinic, Eltham, and graduate of the Southern School of Natural Therapies (SSNT), Gill says she frequently treats people presenting with what appear to be non-specific symptoms but when looked at together, add up to insulin resistance.
“It’s essentially a self-sabotaging eating cycle – high consumption of refined, sugary foods causes a surge in blood sugar levels, which is followed by a rush of insulin. Over time the body becomes resistant to the insulin, which leads to cravings,” she explains.
“When the body becomes insulin resistant, it just doesn’t feel right unless it gets a ‘fix’. That’s when the pantry gets raided.”
Gill says insulin resistance is one of the more rewarding conditions to work with as a naturopath, as health changes can occur quite quickly. Having previously worked as an occupational therapist, she was drawn to the multimodality approach of naturopathy.
“During the onsite clinic sessions at SSNT we learned to view the human system as a whole, rather than individual parts, and consider a range of treatment options combining both modern medical and traditional healing methods.”
How Can naturopathy help?
“Naturopathic treatment for insulin resistance includes herbal medicines and nutrients to help support the regulation of carbohydrates, aid in transporting glucose through the body and boost the metabolism, leading to reduced cravings and improved health,” says Gill.
“Often the ultimate goal is to manage weight, and this occurs quite rapidly once the cycle is broken, and clients are usually very relieved. They get their energy and motivation for life back, as well as control over what they eat.”
Naturopathic intervention can also help to improve mood, quality of sleep, cognitive and gastrointestinal function, which can all impact on poor nutritional choices and overall wellbeing.
Other contributing factors to insulin resistance, common in today’s busy society, include lack of exercise, a sedentary lifestyle and insufficient or poor-quality sleep. Untreated insulin resistance can lead to the more serious condition, Metabolic Syndrome, which can ultimately develop into Type 2 Diabetes.
“Naturopathic treatment can help to avoid serious health deterioration and give patients the knowledge to take control of their eating and daily habits, for better health,” Gill concludes.
Know your warning signs
In the case of insulin resistance, some of the warning signs include fatigue, shakiness and feeling agitated – which is often relieved by eating. Other signs include feeling sleepy after eating high-carbohydrate meals, high blood pressure and ‘brain fog’. Weight gain in the classic ‘apple’ shape is also common.