Have you been diagnosed with clinical depression? Heart disease? Type II, or adult, diabetes? Narcolepsy? Are you, or do you think you might be, an alcoholic? Do you gain weight around your middle in spite of faithfully dieting? Are you unable to lose weight? Does your child have ADHD? If you have any one of these symptoms, I wrote this article for you. Believe it or not, the same thing can cause all of the above symptoms.
I am not a medical professional. I am not a nutritionist. The conclusions I have drawn from my own experience and observations are not rocket science. A diagnosis of clinical depression is as ordinary as the common cold today. Prescriptions for Prozac, Zoloft, Wellbutrin, etc., are written every day. Genuine clinical depression is a very serious condition caused by serotonin levels in the brain. I am not certain, however, that every diagnosis of depression is the real thing. My guess is that about 10 percent of the people taking these drugs actually need them. I am not saying that the other 90 percent do not have real and very distressing symptoms! I am saying that I believe that 90 percent of the people diagnosed with clinical depression actually do have normal serotonin levels. They have a very real condition, all right, but it isn't depression.
The condition they have is called insulin resistance. Left untreated, it will cause weight gain (around the middle of the body) and depression-like symptoms. Over time, it will cause problems with concentration and alertness. In the worst cases, it will cause diabetes, heart disease, and eventually, death. The problem here is elementary physiology. The human body uses insulin to store glucose in cells (as fat). Most of us know that glucose is sugar, but very few of us know that the body cannot distinguish between starches and sugar. Your body cannot tell the difference between a piece of white bread and a handful of sugar. Whole wheat bread is better, but only because it is absorbed into the blood more slowly. All carbohydrates - including, but not limited to, rice, corn, potatoes, and even carrots - are converted into sugar in your body. In fact, there is a school of thought that says that a baked potato is actually worse for you than eating raw glucose. From my own experience, I think that school of thought is quite correct. In some people, particularly after years of abuse, the body stops utilizing insulin well. To compensate, the pancreas makes more insulin. The results include weight gain, an increase in triglycerides, lousy cholesterol ratios, climbing blood pressure. In extreme cases, the pancreas eventually becomes exhausted and insulin levels fall, creating Type II diabetes. In short, I am talking about a recipe for suicide.
Insulin resistance is deadly, but why does it also make you feel lousy? Blood sugar! First, you eat something that makes blood sugar rise - some sort of carbohydrate. Maybe it was a candy bar. Maybe it was a sandwich (two slices of bread!). Maybe it was a baked potato, or rice, or a serving of corn. Maybe it was a breakfast pastry or bowl of cereal. After you eat, blood sugar rises for about twenty minutes, which makes you feel quite good. Meanwhile, your body is busily trying to utilize this food. Wups! The insulin isn't working. Make more. And more. All of a sudden, you have too much insulin floating about and your blood sugar drops through the floor. You feel worse than sleepy. It's a groggy feeling, like you've taken a barbiturate - you can't keep your eyes open. If you can, you go to sleep. If you can't, you suffer. Either way, it's over eventually. Afterward, you actually have a slight hangover, like you've been poisoned. Well, your own body has poisoned you. Worse still, you are now ravenously hungry - so you do it again. If I have just described you, then you are insulin resistant and addicted to carbohydrates. It wasn't your fault. You did as you were told by the folks who should have known better. Don't beat yourself up about it. But it's going to kill you if you don't change it. The lousy feeling of low blood sugar mimics depression. That uncontrollable sleepiness mimics narcolepsy. But how does this explain alcoholism? As in the other two cases, it doesn't. Alcoholism, like clinical depression and narcolepsy, is a real and incurable disease. But carbohydrate addiction can certainly cause problem drinking! Nothing on this planet can be converted to pure sugar faster than alcohol, so nothing makes you feel better faster when your blood sugar is below the floor - very briefly. Then your blood sugar crashes, and you need another drink to feel better again. And another. And another. The next thing you know, you are looking at a DWI, which is totally bewildering because you did not set out to get drunk!
I would add that I think the mood problems stem not only from the quick spike in blood sugar, but over the longer term from the insulin resistance keeping sugar out of your muscles and brain and storing it all as fat instead. The worst of all possible worlds. There's also alot to be said for the many properties of cereal grains to affect our endocrine system in a negative way. Insulin resistance, specifically in the brain itself, is also a factor. I have many links on my blog to articles I've found tying many disorders to insulin resistance. Hope you stay and look around a bit!