Thoughts on insulin and lifespan correlation

What are your thoughts on this finding?

“Researchers also concluded that having a healthy lifestyle and weight that reduces insulin levels could also be an important factor in increasing longevity in humans.”

I tend to believe it. Well, there is a lot of stuff that indicates less insulin is better I thought. I mean the higher your level of insulin, the more likely you are to be overweight/obese. This also goes along the lines of all the low-carbers and paleo-dieters, who think that the influx of grains into diet (and therefore increased insulin production) has been bad for people’s overall health. I think (and don’t ask me for a link as all I have is fleeting memories) that high insulin levels have also been associated with cancer in some way.

I think I’m quite insulin resistant myself and take a lot of insulin as such. I am often thinking about ways in which I might be able to reduce my insulin intake (without losing b.g. control, obviously).

Hmm, the issue of insulin levels has been popping up all over the place. This has left me with two main questions:

  1. What is the healthiest level of insulin? The impression that most of the articles give is less is better, but I suspect that eventually you would hit the point of diminishing return. If high insulin levels can shorten lifespan, so can the total lack of it, as seen in untreated type 1 diabetes.

  2. How do we relate endogenous insulin levels to the the amount that you and I inject? I often hear that somewhere around 0.5 units/kg is the rule of thumb for dosing insulin in someone without insulin resistence. Should we really be aiming for less than that, or do you only get a return in someone who has “elevated” insulin levels above that?

Anyway, exercise and a moderate diet are probably good ideas in any case.

I find your question #2 very interesting. I have thought about how much insulin a healthy person actually puts out in a day. But as far as the .5 units / kg, is that to calculate a daily basal or the whole total daily dose?

That is total daily dose. I believe that number comes from the DCCT and average usage for someone with type 1. General rule is that roughly half of your insulin is your basal dose and the other half is for boluses. Of course, I have found that I have varying sensitivities to different brands of insulin. I wasn’t as sensitive to Levemir, so I was taking a higher portion of my insulin as basal when I was on MDI than now that I am on the pump and everything is Novolog.


It was a MOUSE study where they created mice missing gene so that they couldn’t process insulin in their brains.

The way this is being interpreted in the media is criminal.

  1. Mice studies of diabetes rarely translate to humans. Diabetes of every type has been “cured” in mice hundreds of times.

  2. We have no idea what the effect on the brain was in the knockout mice without insulin receptors. For starters, mice have very little cortex. You can’t get the mouse to recite the alphabet to check mental function!

3, Whatever the case with mice, there is a lot of evidence that humans with high blood sugar do not outlive those with normal blood sugar and that lowering blood sugar with insulin increases longevity in HUMANS because lower blood sugars mean less heart attacks.

  1. This finding, divorced from the data it was drawn from is being used as another reason to deny insulin to Type 2s who then must walk around with extremely high blood sugars all the time.


Elevated insulin is one of the primary determinants of lifespan. This applies to species form flatworms to beluga whales. The more insulin an organism is using the shorter its lifespan will be. Insulin is much more than just the body’s way to store extra sugar. It has an influence on nearly 50 genes correlated to longevity. When insulin is being used properly in the body it has many beneficial effects but like anything when present in excess over what would usually termed normal levels it can lead to a lot of bad outcomes. A good analogy would be oxygen. The body needs oxygen to survive and fuel all the biochemical processes in the body, but when oxygen is in an unfavorable environment such as a highly inflammatory environment it fuels free radical production and is itself a highly reactive free radical.

This is why diabetes is so devastating. You have so many insults going on to the body at the sometime. You have a great deal of inflammation going on from the sugar alone. High sugar itself is linked to a variety of chronic and degenerative diseases (cancer, Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease). Insulin at physiologic (normal) levels is actually anti-inflammatory. Ive read a few research articles where administering insulin during and after a heart attack benefits survival and recovery time. It dilates the arteries and lowers inflammation caused by the heart attack. But at higher doses it signals the body into the fight or flight state (sympathetic) and causes the exact opposite scenario: arteries constrict, blood pressure rises, sodium/fluid retention rises, etc.High levels of insulin tell the body that theres no need to preserve life…resources (food, sugar, etc) are plenty. One of the best things you can do to live long is lower your insulin. This can be done through diet, supplements, exercise, and a few other alternative therapies.

Just to give you one more idea of how the insulin picture effects lifespan look at how early young girls are going through puberty these days. In hunter gatherer societies women usually began menstruation during later adolescence. Children these days due to an environment which fosters high insulin begin much earlier.

Keep your insulin low along with blood sugars by any means possible. Particularly relevant for diabetics since we have allot more to contend with than the average person.

Fo 40 years I did not know about carb counting and ate tons of carbs but I did not know that was unhealthy. My doctors did not know either for many of those years. When I learned that sugar was not the only thing I was supposed to limit in my diet I was finally “having a healthy lifestyle”. I had developed some complications with my eyes, kidneys and neuropathy. With a more appropriate diet, more exercise and pumping insulin I have a lifestyle and a healthier weight that do indeed greatly reduce my total daily insulin dosage. All of my complications have disappeared and I now feel that my longevity is significantly increased. Of course that assumes I don’t get run over by a car or fall off a ladder while painting my house. Lol!

Here is an interesting article from “Diabetes Health” magazine that supports your contention that reducing your insulin level is very important:

Well it’s seems matching insulin to your food is not a good idea. New mantra should be match food to your daily insulin limit.

More inspiration!

Wow! I had no idea!! there is always something…I need to research this…

Thank Richard for posting this link! I had no idea! I wonder if there is anyone in the TuD Community who follows this lifestyle and I wonder how it is working for them…

I was told I was put on insulin to preserve what little insulin my pancreas was putting out. I have never really been told what type of “diet” to follow. I think if people have been living low carb lifestyle for years and are doing well…Why keep throwing all of these new theories out there…Diabetes is already a complicated disease why make me more confused than I already am…

There is something else I don’t understand…I have LADA…I did everything in my power to slow the process of TYPE 1. I started off taking Oral med’s, I excerised, ate correctly but no matter what I did I couldn’t stop the process…I think alot of people have theories about diabetes but how can you stop your body from doing what it want’s to do???..We all know diabetes has a mind of it’s on…how can we stop diabetes from thinking on it’s on and is it possible…I am sorry if I went to a totally different subject but I had to ask.

I wish he would have talked a little more about how much insulin a person living w/ diabetes needs per day…oh well I guess you can’t have it all


Which apparently should be really low?

Now the puzzle… How to reduce insulin needs in a child going through puberty and soon the teen age years? They are growing very quickly and eating like no tomorrow. Any thoughts? P.S. They may need more insulin now than they ever will. Depressing research!

The key is not insulin, but adding another missing hormone like amylin (Symlin) to the mix … insulin alone will never be sufficient for managing glucose levels, but the medical profession has been slow to acknowledge this undeniable fact … now, perhaps they will also consider the various other hormones produced by the islets of langerhans, as well as C-Peptide?

Here’s a link to some interviews of the author who wrote the Diabetes Health article. He has a book called The Rosedale Diet.The interviews can be downloaded or listened to online and they go over how this physician lowers insulin in his patients. The Nutrition Think Tank Series includes Dr Rosedale answering his patients questions and giving the basics behind his protocol. There are a few other diabetes related shows on this page with other physicians including Dr Mary C. Vernon of Atkins Diabetes fame, Dr Eric C. Westman from Duke University, and Dr Stephen Phinney. They are all major players in the low carb/low insulin arena. Most of the shows are hosted by Shelley Schlender. So just search for her name to find the diabetes related programs. They are all pretty interesting. Also of interest are the interviews of Loren Cordain from Colorado State University. He’s the author of The Paleo Diet and The Paleo Diet for Athletes. He’s the foremost authority on Paleolithic diets and the health implications of such a diet.

Heres another link to an interview with Dr Rosedale going over his dietary protocol as well as supplements he puts his patients on. A few other diabetes related interviews as well can be found on this page. Dr Rosedale’s interview is the first selection under the 2002 listings:…

Thanks for sharing these insights. The information you shared makes so much sense.
I myself was only recently DXd w/ T1, but have believed, as you say, that high insulin ‘consumption’ must be bad for the body on a holistic level. You mention alternative therapies/approaches – I haven’t done a lot of research, but have found a contact who seems really knowledgeble – herbalist / irodologist, actually has a more technical title for her field, but anyway…she’s going to analyze all my organ systems and help me heal the highly ‘acidic’ (vs. alkaline) level my body is now showing since I was diagnosed w/ T1 last year. I’ll keep you posted.

Get your mouse on the OmniPod if he’s insured under your policy.

Real Type 1 diabetic mice have only been cured through one protocol- Denise Faustmann’s, and only very recently. The other mice “cured” previously had their islet cells rendered inactive or destroyed through means besides autoimmune dysfunction.

Totally agree on the Symlin- but the only other hormone is glucagon. Sure, you can inject it to raise your blood glucose but it is much easier and safer to simply consume glucose if your levels are low.

C-Peptide is not a hormone, but rather a characteristic of endogenous insulin molecules. There does not appear to be any practical benefit to including it with our insulin today (and it likely would not “fit” into many of the analogs most Type 1s use).