Insulin Resistance | How to Control Insulin Resistance
Insulin resistance is a precursor to prediabetes and type-2 diabetes. Are you at risk and can you reverse it? Today, we break it down for you.
What Is Insulin Resistance?
Before we talk about insulin resistance, let's find out what insulin is and why insulin resistance is dangerous.
What Does Insulin Do in the Body?
- The food you eat is broken down when it enters your body and is converted to glucose.
- Glucose (blood sugar), which comes from carbohydrates, is your body's source of energy.
- When your pancreas senses glucose, it releases insulin to process this.
- Insulin is a hormone that helps make sure your glucose gets into your blood cells. It then instructs your liver to store glucose for later.
- Once your cells get their dose of glucose and the glucose has cleared your bloodstream, your insulin levels begin to subside.
- But when your body does not use insulin effectively, it is called insulin resistance.
- When your cells are resistant to insulin, your pancreas feeds more insulin into your body.
- But your pancreas may not be able to keep up with the amount of blood sugar. And your cells still may not respond to insulin.
- Because insulin can't do its job, this results in high levels of glucose in your bloodstream.
- With too much blood sugar in your system, glucose stores in your liver and muscle might hit the ceiling.
- And when it does, your liver stuffs excess glucose into fat cells.
- This weight gain is usually focused around the midsection.
Insulin resistance sets the course for prediabetes, which could progress to type-2 diabetes. But it is not inevitable, and it may be reversible.
In a nutshell: Insulin packs glucose into your blood cells and stores the rest for later, regulating the glucose in your body. But when this function is impaired, it is called insulin resistance.
This could lead to weight gain, prediabetes, and type-2 diabetes.
What Are the Symptoms of Insulin Resistance?
The tricky part is that there are no known symptoms of insulin resistance.
However, it is a signature of prediabetes. And recent research shows that there may be signs to catch prediabetes.
Retinopathy is a condition common in patients with diabetes. Some evidence suggests that people with prediabetes may have exhibited early signs of this.
Some prediabetes patients also have dark skin at the armpits and the back of the neck. You may also find some skin tags there.
With no clear and definite symptoms of insulin resistance, it becomes more important to prevent it.
What Are the Causes of Insulin Resistance?
Here are risk factors that may increase your likelihood of insulin resistance:
- age (over 45 years old)
- family history of diabetes
- physical inactivity
- high blood pressure
- poor cholesterol
- history of heart disease or stroke
For women, other risk factors include a history of gestational diabetes and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
Some conditions like sleep apnea or hormonal disorders may also lead to insulin resistance. Your medication may also make you less sensitive to insulin.
There's not much you can do about your age, medical history, or race. But your weight and physical activity are within your control.
There may be a link between your waistline and insulin resistance. For men, a 40-inch waistline could be connected to the condition; and for women, a 35-inch waistline.
In fact, researchers believe that inflammation from excess weight might signal changes in your body that make you more resistant.
If you relate to the risk factors listed here, you may want to speak to your doctor.
How Do I Get an Insulin Resistance Diagnosis?
It's not usually part of your annual checkup, but you might take the test if you're at risk.
Your doctor may determine if you're at risk if you have:
- high blood sugar
- high triglycerides
- low HDL (good) cholesterol)
- high LDL (bad) cholesterol
Some doctors give a fasting plasma glucose test or an A1C test to find out if you are prediabetic. But note that this is to diagnose prediabetes, not insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance is a sign of prediabetes. Prediabetes may progress to type-2 diabetes if left untreated.
And if you do find out that your body's response to insulin is impaired, I have two pieces of news for you.
How to Control Insulin Resistance
Great news! At this stage, you may not need treatment just yet.
- A healthy diet and plenty of exercise help keep your body in peak condition.
- Physical activity could promote insulin sensitivity. And when paired with a nutrient-dense diet, it may give you a slim waistline.
We already know that a healthy waistline can lower your risk of developing insulin resistance.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends 150 minutes of exercise each week. You can break this down into workable chunks to fit your lifestyle.
The more you exercise, the more health benefits you will reap. And the list doesn't end with insulin resistance.
There is no specific diet that could help make you more sensitive to insulin. But a low-fat, high-carb diet may make you more insulin resistant.
When it comes to insulin resistance, prevention is even easier than getting a diagnosis. Better safe than insulin resistant. It's a condition that could lead to complications. Thankfully, it could be reversible.
Physical inactivity and a poor diet often set the stage for other conditions too.
While it might be difficult to make lifestyle changes, especially in your later years, it's important to understand that they are more essential as you age.
A healthy meal and an active lifestyle are long-term solutions to a plethora of conditions—at-risk or existing.
Insulin resistance or not, it is always a good idea to take care of your body. It's the only one you have, after all.
Are you less resistant to a healthful lifestyle change now? Are there other conditions you would like to learn more about? Let us know in the comments section below!
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