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12 Weeks = Amazing Results

Recently I wrote about Insulin Resistance, a common disorder I see in my practice. This post highlights my recent experience with Beverly*, who lost nearly 30 pounds and dramatically increased her energy in just 12 weeks - simply by identifying where her imbalances were and making a few simple changes that improved her insulin sensitivity.

Meet Beverly*, Age 60

When Bev first sat across the table from me this past August, she said "I feel off balance". She couldn't pin-point it, but something just didn't feel right. She felt more and more fatigue, especially mid-afternoon when she had her energy "slumps". She was gaining weight steadily and was feeling "old".

During our discussion I learned more about Bev. She had her thyroid removed a few years ago due to a large goiter. While her temperature fluctuations and heart palpitations had improved, her energy levels had not. She had also described high levels of stress during the past few years. She had made progress with her stress management but in general felt "worn down".

Bev's medication list included thyroid replacement, and two medications for high blood pressure. On examining her I noted that her weight gain was primarily around her abdomen. I also noted an elevated heart rate and increased reflexes.

We then obtained some data with a blood draw, and Bev's laboratory results confirmed my suspicions. Now remember - I am a Functional Medicine physician - so I often order labs that other doctors may not order. I also interpret the lab results differently, looking for patterns and clues that relate to the individual and their symptoms, and desiring "optimal" results, not "normal" results. Bev's blood sugars were normal, but she had significantly elevated morning insulin (normal less than 10, hers was greater than 50. While her thyroid tests were "within normal range", they showed her thyroid was functioning on the high-end of normal, which explained her elevated heart rate and hyper-reflexes.

Now it was time to get to work. Bev had insulin resistance! This had likely been creeping up over many years, and was made worse the past 3 years by elevated cortisol as a result of the stress she had been experiencing. To make matters worse, one of the two blood pressure medications she was on was known to worsen insulin resistance. My Functional/Integrative approach to Bev's care was simple and straightforward, focusing on:
  1. Correcting her underlying hormone imbalance
  2. Removing the foods that were working against her by limiting the refined carbohydrates and sugar from her diet
  3. Using targeted supplementation to treat her insulin resistance

Hormone balance

While getting to work on treating her insulin resistance, we also had to balance Bev's thyroid. I lowered her dose of thyroid medication and within a week she felt a difference. Her heart rate came down and she began to feel more "at ease". This is an important point because so many women want to add more thyroid medication - but more isn't always better! An overactive thyroid can also contribute to fatigue. It's all about balance!

Removing offending foods

I presented Bev with a meal plan that included real, clean food. Her plan involved 2 prepared meals, two meal replacement shakes, and healthy snack options. Her two prepared meals each included lean, clean protein, lots of vegetables and healthy fat. We limited her starches and grains and had her choose from gluten-free, high-fiber varieties. The timing of her meals was also important! She was not to go more than 3-4 hours without eating (to balance her blood sugars). We used meal replacement to provide adequate protein and help her with meal structure (meal replacement can often help take some of the "work" out of diet change.

Targeted supplementation

Bev's supplementation recommendations were designed to help correct her insulin resistance, and included chromium, ALA, Fish Oil and PGX.

Chromium - helps insulin to do it's job! Chromium helps insulin transport blood sugar into cells more efficiently, providing cells with much-needed energy.

Alpha-lipoic Acid (ALA) - enhances the insulin receptor on the cell's surface, allowing insulin to enter the cells more easily (there is actually a direct binding site for ALA on the insulin receptor). ALA also acts as an antioxidant, reducing cell damage.

Fish Oil - contains two key substances - EPA and DHA - which help form and strengthen cell membranes, keeps them from getting stiff. This improves cellular communication and helps insulin receptors work properly.

PGX - a novel fiber blend, PGX is taken with a glass of water about 15-20 minutes prior to meals. The flavorless granules can also be sprinkled over food or taken as capsules. The PGX fiber expands into a gelatinous "blob" in your stomach. This helps you to:
  • feel full after eating less food
  • release any glucose from your meal into your blood stream more slowly
  • reduce insulin and blood sugar spikes
  • reduce hunger and sugar cravings.

Within 2 weeks Bev had lost over 7 pounds and reported less brain fog and more consistent energy.
At the end of 12 weeks she had lost 29.6 pounds, 5.5 inches off her waist, and 3 inches off her hips!

She felt great and was no longer getting a dip in her energy levels in the middle of the day. Repeat blood testing showed that her fasting insulin level was cut by more than half. She was completely off one blood pressure medication (the one that was making her insulin resistance worse) and was down to a fraction of a dose of her other blood pressure medication. She had lost so much weight that we had to lower her thyroid dose even further!

The best part? She kept saying over and over "I really just can't wrap my head around it, this has been so easy". The changes Bev made were simple and straightforward. She continued to live her life and did not have to remove herself from society in order to make the necessary changes (she even traveled, ate at restaurants and hosted parties). In just 12 weeks, Bev not only changed her life, she created a plan for lasting change.

Yours in Health,

Carin Nielsen, MD

*while this represents a true story, the patient name has been changed to protect his/her identity and privacy

Carin Nielsen, MD Integrative MedicineI use an Integrative/Functional Medicine approach with my patients to treat a variety of chronic medical conditions. Treating symptoms and chronic disease simply by prescribing medication doesn't address the underlying factors that contributed your problems in the first place, and is not likely to provide lasting results. My approach involves getting "under the surface" to find and correct underlying imbalances. If you are interested in learning more or if you would like to schedule a consultation, please contact our office This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 231-638-5585.
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