By Chris Ebert

Note: this article contains only the opinion and conjecture of the author and is not medical advice.

The Hurdles for Diabetics

The problem for the diabetic is often not that the disease is entirely incurable; indeed there are many well-documented cases of folks reversing and eliminating the symptoms of diabetes as well as halting the progression of the disease in its tracks. Rather, the problem for many is that the path to the cure has either not been revealed to them personally, or else the path is too difficult.

While no single cure can be expected to work for everybody, especially since there are different types of disease (for example, Type 1 and Type 2), if there is a method that offers a high level of success most would only dream of attaining,  it may best be considered a miracle.

Essentially, the body only contains a small amount of sugar. Even in the worst event of hyperglycemia, the human blood may only contain the amount of sugar in a standard sugar packet one might dump in the morning cup of coffee – typically just a few grams. Unfortunately, even with just a few grams of glucose in the blood, the damaging effects of diabetes can and do occur. In a healthy non-diabetic individual, a few grams of glucose are not a problem, since the body produces and uses hormones such as insulin to regulate the sugar and bring it back down to levels that are not damaging.

An Option Trader’s Unique Perspective

Perhaps an unusual perspective, that of a stock-option trader can shed some light on the reason some folks lose their ability to regulate blood glucose. If so, this perspective may shed light on the method of reversing the disease itself. In other words, the option trader’s perspective may offer the cure. Again, no cure can be expected to work 100% of the time, but for some, the method may be their best chance at success.

VIX and SPY

The basis of option trading is that stock prices are somewhat predictable. Of course, they are not predictable in the sense that one can say this stock will go up tomorrow, or that one will go down. Nonetheless, there is some statistical sense of predictability. It is possible to predict a range of stock prices given a statistical limit of error. For example, one can say “The stock price will be $100 to $110 tomorrow with an 80% certainty”

Option traders use statistical methods to analyze stock prices, and then determine premiums for the options that are traded. Most important is the a concept known as implied volatility. Implied volatility is, in simplest terms, the expected range of a stock price.

Implied volatility is so vitally important to the financial markets that measures of it have become widespread indicators for many participants. Perhaps the most ubiquitous example of implied volatility is the S&P 500 volatility index, or VIX. The market determines the VIX, but the VIX also can and does affect the market. Because higher levels of the VIX correlate with higher option premiums, higher levels can make it too expensive for traders to protect their positions in a downturn, for example by buying Put options. Thus, higher levels of the VIX can exacerbate sell-offs, since Puts just get too expensive and it’s less risky to just sell the stocks rather than protect them.

Options Link to Diabetes

As important as the VIX is to the financial markets, it seems likely that the human body has a VIX, as it were, of its own. The body’s VIX relates to the level of blood glucose. Generally, the lower the level of glucose in the blood, the higher the VIX would be expected to soar, just like downturns in stock prices raise the VIX. In the case of the body, the level of implied volatility is in response to fear – fear of dying. This is quite important, since the blood may only contain a few grams of glucose at any given moment. In fact, were it not for the body’s ability to replenish glucose, the average human might only have a supply of 15 minutes or so stored in the blood. Without glucose the body will die, in fact many diabetics are painfully aware of the consequences of low glucose or hypoglycemic episodes. A level too low can quickly cause coma or death within just a few minutes.

sugarSo, without getting into exact levels, let’s assume the body has 15 minutes of glucose and that is considered normal and safe, and  a non-diabetic condition. Perhaps this would correlate to a reading of 70 mg/dl. At that level, the non-diabetic would not feel fear, the brain would not be in fear of running out of its main fuel – glucose. The absence of any significant fear would mean the VIX would be normal.

To the diabetic, a glucose level of 70 mg/dl would invoke fear and thus a high VIX. The diabetic does not “feel” the same with a glucose level of 70 as a non-diabetic. The diabetic brain is quite understandably in fear for its life as such a level. Just as financial markets become accustomed to certain levels of the VIX, so too does the brain become accustomed to its fear of running out of glucose.

As in the chart above, it is not the level of the S&P 500 that determines the VIX. The VIX can soar when the S&P is at 2000 as it did in 2015 even though the S&P is up hundreds of points over the past several years. So, while a level of 1800 may have caused a spike in the VIX a couple of years ago, now a level of 2000 can cause the same spike. In much the same way, a diabetic becomes accustomed to higher and higher levels of blood glucose, so that a dip in glucose, even a dip to what would have been considered a high level a few years ago, now causes the same spike in the VIX. If a dip to 70 mg/dl once caused a spike in the VIX, perhaps years later a dip to 120 mg/dl now causes the same response – the same fear of running out of sugar. In many cases, the body is in fear of running out of sugar even though there is already so much sugar in the blood that it’s causing damage.

The Link between Time and Volatility

Beyond the “fear” factor involved with high levels of the VIX, implied volatility also affects the perception of time itself. In the financial markets, a VIX of 80 for example would have a much different effect than a VIX of 20. At a VIX of 80, participants in the stock market would be expecting wild swings in prices. In other words, the VIX defines the expected speed that the S&P will move on any given day. Thus, at a VIX of 80, participants would be expecting the S&P 500 to be moving at a very fast clip. In some ways, the VIX can be compared to a clock, so when the VIX is high the clock is ticking very fast.

The time-related effect of the VIX is that on a slow day in the stock market, an elevated level of the VIX would make things seem to move even slower than they appear. Participants expecting wild moves in stock prices would feel as if  time had stopped if the VIX was 80 and the S&P only moved a point or two throughout the day. Whereas a move of a couple of points in the S&P on a day when the VIX was 20 would be considered quite normal.

When the VIX is very high, it can seem like time itself has slowed down, and this is true not only in the stock market but with the VIX as it is related to blood glucose. When someone is experiencing high VIX in their blood glucose, time itself can seem to slow down. The perception of time is very important. When time seems to be moving at a snails pace, the mind tends to wander. A wandering mind can lead to creative thoughts, but it can also lead to anxiousness, apprehension, and boredom. Taken to the extreme, this apprehension can lead to paranoia and hallucinations. Since it is the VIX of blood glucose that controls the perception of time, it is the VIX that determines whether one is paranoid and apprehensive. The diabetic faces this dilemma almost constantly, as the diabetic is confronted with a high glucose VIX on a daily basis; the non-diabetic rarely faces such feelings.

Glucose VIX emotions

At some point between E=mc2 and the Tin Foil Hat is a desire to order a pizza. The point at which the desire to order the pizza occurs is determined by the VIX.

The temporary fix for the diabetic is to increase the blood glucose to decrease the VIX. By decreasing the VIX, the paranoia and apprehension subside, but again, in diabetics the subsidence is usually only temporary. The permanent fix is to find a way to permanently address the VIX – keep the VIX from rising so high that it causes the paranoia and apprehension and the diabetic will no longer feel the need to increase blood glucose to avoid those feelings. Quite simply, by permanently fixing the VIX so that it never spikes excessively high, the diabetic will no longer crave glucose, will no longer eat to self-medicate.

Why Fat Increases Insulin Resistance

Craving glucose and avoiding cravings is by no means a simple process, since the diabetic does not necessarily need to consume any food to raise blood glucose levels. The body can and does produce its own sugar from other sources. In some cases, all a diabetic needs to do to increase blood glucose is to wait for the body to make some.

That’s likely the reason body fat increases a diabetic’s insulin resistance. It’s not so much that the fat has an effect on insulin (although it probably does have some effect) but rather that a body with fat is a body that can make its own glucose. And a body that can make its own glucose is one that will allow the person to eventually raise that glucose to a comfortable level – a level at which the VIX is low enough to be tolerable. As mentioned earlier, a person with stores of body fat can at times raise blood glucose simply by waiting for time to pass. Moreover, as time passes and glucose rises, the VIX remains elevated for a time. So, there is no compelling reason for the body to release insulin, even as glucose rises to levels that are considered high and able to cause damage.

The Cure

It is therefore important for those seeking a cure for diabetes to consider that it is not the level of glucose in the blood that is important, but the fear accompanying that level. While no measure of such fear is currently available, it is nonetheless of utmost importance to recognize that the fear is present. Thus, the cure for diabetes, if one exists, will be found in the ability to control the body’s fear of running out of glucose – or so-called GLUCOSE VIX.

Now, it is important to note that controlling the VIX in financial markets is rather simple. Traders just become accustomed to stock prices over time, and as they become accustomed the VIX adjusts itself naturally. When stock prices fall unexpectedly, the VIX rises, but then when stock prices level off the VIX plummets. So, the VIX can actually be the same when stock prices have fallen substantially as it was before the prices fell. Given the passage of time, the VIX adjusts to the “new normal”.

In the same way, the brain can be made to adjust to a “new normal” for the level of blood glucose that triggers a fear response. What might invoke fear at a level of 100 mg/dl one week might be made to allow a level of 80 mg/dl several weeks later. IT’s not possible to simply go from expecting 100 mg/dl to 80 mg/dl in an instant without sparking the VIX. But over a controlled period of time, it is certainly possible.

Why Diet and Exercise Don’t Always Help

Now, the only quandary left for the diabetic is how to get the brain to make the adjustment without unintentionally raising the VIX. There are likely several methods for doing so. Most obvious is the tried and true technique of diet and exercise. However, since the cure for diabetes is to reduce the blood glucose without raising the VIX, diet and exercise will not cure the disease if the result is an increase in the VIX. That’s why many diets fail. That’s also why many who lose weight and exercise remain diabetic after the weight loss has occurred. Unless the weight loss does not raise the VIX the diabetes will likely remain, likely because the increase in the VIX will tempt the diabetic to eat foods that raise blood sugar even while remaining trim and fit.exercise

The diabetic, to succeed, absolutely must reduce the amount of glucose available to the body. This can be a difficult task, since the body manufactures its own glucose. Nevertheless, the body only has a limited amount of fuel available, and thus a limited capacity for manufacturing glucose. Take away the fuel, and the blood glucose MUST fall. Since the fuel is mostly fat and muscle, there must exist a level at which there would be insufficient fat and muscle available to manufacture glucose, and levels in the blood would fall to normal, particularly if one takes steps to avoid consuming foods containing glucose or other sugars or carbohydrates that can be converted to sugar. Any diet that accomplishes the task can succeed in curing diabetes, but most likely fail because folks cannot handle the increase in the VIX that comes with the diet. As soon as the temptation to decrease the VIX appears, the dieter will likely give in to the temptation, and the diabetes will return, even if it’s after years of success. That VIX is a nasty foe.

Why Insulin Does Not Always Help

It may now appear obvious that the reason insulin usually doesn’t cure diabetes, is that drugs like insulin do not actually solve the underlying problem – they just treat the symptoms – namely they lower blood sugar. In order for insulin to cure diabetes it would have to reduce sugar levels while also reducing the VIX. It’s certainly possible that some diabetics might take insulin ir other drugs, then slowly acclimate themselves to the lower glucose and a low VIX, thus be cured, but it is certainly not the expected outcome in many cases. The overall tendency is to adjust ones habits to raise blood sugar back to levels where the VIX felt comfortable. This can be a viscous process in which the diabetic requires more and more drugs to keep the sugar lower, without ever solving the underlying problem with the VIX.

Perhaps the most serious drawback to injectable or oral sources of insulin, especially the fast-acting forms, is that the injection of the insulin has the immediate effect of increasing the VIX. In fact, there is likely no faster method of increasing the VIX. The effect is so dramatic that users of insulin are warned of the danger, since the VIX could increase so fast, and the fear of death become evident so quickly that the user might not be able to take steps to avoid it. Those steps, namely consuming food, particularly food that will increase blood glucose very quickly, are intended to reduce the VIX back to tolerable levels.

For users of insulin that have had unintended hypoglycemic episodes, the increase in the VIX may not have been evident until it reached the Tin Foil Hat stage, or worse. Family members of insulin users often receive instructions on how to identify the increase in the VIX, even if it was not actually called “the VIX”. Often, this increase in the VIX comes with a very low blood glucose reading, so the condition of low blood glucose is what is often identified. However, the symptoms can and do occur at different glucose levels for different people, and even among individuals different glucose levels have different effects at different times or different days, likely an indication of the effect of the VIX. It is the VIX that causes the hypoglycemic episode, regardless of the correlation with the low glucose reading.

Sulfonylureas and Dipeptidyl Peptidase-4 Inhibitors

The same is true of other drugs, such as sulfonylureas, since they stimulate the body’s own insulin production. This insulin production, as with injected insulins, is often only produces a temporary control of the symptoms. As long as the VIX is not controlled, it is likely the the disease will continue to progress.

Newer classes of drugs such as Dipeptidyl Peptidase-4 Inhibitors (DPP4 Inhibitors) are also likely to help with the symptoms of diabetes temporarily. But they are unlikely to cure the disease unless the VIX is somehow also controlled, likely by means other than drugs.

Implied Volatility of BLood Glucose

Why Atkins or Paleo Diets Cure Some Folks

Diets such as Atkins or Paleo have signaled some limited success stories regarding cures for diabetes. If one considers the ability of such diets to lower blood glucose without raising the VIX (because they acclimate the body to life with steady glucose and no spikes or valleys) the reason for their success becomes clear. The cure for diabetes is simply a matter of lowering glucose, including glucose stored or manufactured by the liver, etc., while lowering the VIX.

Why Fasting Helps Some

Fasting, or starvation diets can likely offer a cure for some as well, by slightly different process that accomplished the same goal. Starvation will absolutely raise the VIX, it has to. But, for someone with enough willpower to withstand the terror (and also the ability to avoid hypoglycemic coma by careful monitoring of blood glucose at its absolute minimum safe level, for example 40 mg/dl or so) and to hold the body in that state for a period of several weeks or months, the VIX will eventually fall. When the body has been accustomed, the VIX will return to normal and the diabetic will no longer feel fear at those levels. If the body can be depleted of sufficient fuel, for example all excess body fat, depleting the body’s ability to manufacture excessive glucose levels in the blood, during those weeks or months, the diabetic will likely be cured.

Perhaps one of the most innovative new techniques is a process known as periodic fasting. A simple, but effective technique, periodic fasting can be as easy as limiting food intake to a 6-hour window each day, punctuated by 18 hours of complete fasting. In this process the body learns to accept the lowered glucose during the 18 hour window, and after some time (perhaps several months) the VIX no longer rises abnormally during those 18 hours.

Summary

The cure for diabetes lies in the ability to reduce blood glucose to normal levels. That requires not only reducing outside sources of glucose, namely sugar and carbohydrates, but in reducing the fuel storage capacity of the body and thereby decreasing the body’s ability to manufacture glucose and pump it into the blood. The liver is particularly adept at manufacturing glucose. The main problem in implementing the procedure is that most methods cause an increase in fear in the brain, a fear of starvation, or so-called VIX. For any cure of diabetes to succeed, it must accomplish two things:

  • It must lower blood glucose to normal levels permanently
  • It must do so in a way that lowers the VIX when normal levels have been reached

Any diabetic who can accomplish both those tasks has a real shot at being cured of the disease. And even in those cases where a complete cure cannot be achieved, controlling the VIX is likely to provide better control and slow the progression of symptoms. After all, implied volatility (VIX) is in the eye of the beholder and who is better to behold volatility of blood glucose than the person through whose veins that blood flows. But, not everybody is an option trader, and thus not everyone knows the importance of implied volatility. But once known, the concept of implied volatility may help some find a cure, and others find comfort.

The preceding is a post by Christopher Ebert, Chief Options Strategist at Astrology Traders (which offers subscribers unique stock-trading perspectives and options education) and co-author of the popular option trading book “Show Me Your Options!” Chris uses his engineering background to mix and match options as a means of preserving portfolio wealth while outpacing inflation. Questions about constructing a specific option trade, or option trading in general, may be entered in the comment section below, or emailed to OptionScientist@zentrader.ca

twitter

Related Options Posts

When Bad News Is Good For Stocks Look Out

Thursday Evening Options Brief 12-Mar 2015

S&P 500 Now Entering Violent Neighborhood

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.