Unlocking Metabolic Health: Insights from Dr. Lisa Brandes of Blue Cross Blue Shield Wyoming

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Dr. Lisa Brandes discussing Metabolic Health
Dr. Lisa Brandes - Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wyoming

During Heart Health month, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wyoming Associate Medical Director Dr. Lisa Brandes gave a presentation to BCBSWY employees, focusing on Metabolic Health and sharing insights on how to improve cardiovascular health.

Dr. Brandes said many Americans plan meals based on antiquated research and faulty food balancing concepts promoting high carbohydrate diets, which has exacerbated growing health issues.

“Our health system is more of a ‘sick’ system,” Dr. Brandes said. “If you look at most office visits and hospitalizations, those are due to chronic conditions.” She added that most Americans are not metabolically healthy—in fact, only about 10 percent of adults are considered to be.

She suggested people take strides to understand their individual body chemistry, and maintain a healthy lifestyle to holistically combat poor metabolic health.

Dr. Brandes warned that the ramifications of poor metabolic health can lead to diabetes, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s, and cancer as well as several other conditions.

Insulin, which stimulates growth and impacts every cell in the body, is critical in relation to metabolic health. When insulin works properly it functions to promote hormone growth, energy use, cell production, and cell growth throughout the body. However, when the body produces too much insulin, the body will begin to resist it. This can occur when a person has chronic exposure to high-carbohydrate diets and frequent intake of insulin producing foods, which can induce insulin resistance—a pivotal mechanism underpinning the onset of various metabolic disorders.

Those who want a richer understanding of their personal metabolic health should consult with their physician. Dr. Brandes cited two major indicators to consider for poor metabolic health, which are fasting insulin numbers and a waist-to-height ratio. Additionally, cholesterol panels and blood chemistry levels like liver enzymes, electrolytes, and kidney data can help tell a more complete metabolic health story.

Dr. Brandes also suggested people evaluate their diets. This means avoiding snacking between meals, consuming whole foods and avoiding processed foods as much as possible. She also suggested people avoid sugary drinks, including processed fruit juices, which can be high insulin triggers. This concept may surprise people, but she noted that juices are incomplete foods compared to their whole food fruit counterparts, so the body absorbs the sugars in processed juices differently.

Lastly, she suggested people pursue a healthy life balance that includes getting adequate sleep, being active, enjoying sunshine, laughing (relationships) and being grateful, which promote healthy body chemistry.


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