Glycemic Index, Insulin resistance and IGF-1

There is a link between hair loss and Insulin resistance, glucose intolerance and IGF-1.

The studies below show that men with vertex balding had increased (higher) levels of circulating Insulin Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1) and decreased (lower) levels of circulating Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 3 (IGFBP-3).

J Am Acad Dermatol. 1999 Feb;40(2 Pt 1):200-3. “Hormones and hair patterning in men: a role for insulin-like growth factor 1?”

evaluated the function of “sex steroids”, “sex hormone-binding globulin” (SHBG), and “insulin-like growth factor” (IGF-1) in determining hair-loss patterning in men. This study found that “for each 59 ng/mL increase in IGF-1, the odds of having vertex baldness doubled” and that “Testosterone, SHBG, and IGF-1 may be important in determining hair patterning in men.”

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2000 Jun;42(6):1003-7. “Vertex balding, plasma insulin-like growth factor 1, and insulin-like growth factor binding protein 3″ Found that  “Older men with vertex balding have lower circulating levels of IGFBP-3 and higher levels of IGF-1 when controlling for IGFBP-3 level.”

A link between IGF-1 and glucose intolerance / insulin resistance

Studies suggest that insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) and IGF binding protein-1 (IGFBP-1) could be important determinants of glucose homoeostasis. The study below indicates that low IGF-1 levels are associated with the development of insulin resistance and provides “further evidence for the possible protective role of IGF-I against development of glucose intolerance.”

Lancet. 2002 May 18;359(9319):1740-5. “Circulating concentrations of insulin-like growth factor-I and development of glucose intolerance: a prospective observational study” “provide further evidence for the possible protective role of IGF-I against development of glucose intolerance.”

Repeated elevations of insulin results in both insulin resistance and higher levels of insulin-like growth factor” (IGF-1), both linked to hair loss.

Further, a person with such chronic exposure to elevated insulin is at a higher risk of developing syndromes and dysfunctions including but not limited to heart disease, type 2 diabetes (glucose intolerance), syndrome X (metabolic syndrome), hypertension, obesity,  polycystic ovarian syndrome in women and, yes, even schizophrenia (The British Journal of Psychiatry (2004) 185: 353-354.)

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High Glycemic Foods:

Our blood sugar rises normally when eating. Insulin is produced to convert sugar into fat (Triglycerides). However, ingesting high glycemic foods results in more insulin production, the chronic ingestion of high glycemic foods could lead to insulin resistance.

In summary:

Ingesting high glycemic foods -> chronic elevation of insulin -> lower levels of circulating Insulin like growth factor binding protein 3 (IGFBP-3), higher levels of circulating Insulin Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1)

Actionable Takeaway:

1- Seek to lower levels of circulating Insulin Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1) and increase levels of circulating Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 3 (IGFBP-3).

2- Reign in high blood sugar / insulin levels to prevent insulin resistance and a host of associated disorders.

3- Avoid chronic consumption of high GI foods to prevent insulin resistance.

Read more about Insulin Resistance (Insulin Resistance Article – Archived) here.

Updated: 5/24/2011

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