By Ariella Belote, R.N.
Have you ever wondered what the big fuss over “insulin resistance” is all about? What is it, and what’s it got to do with you?
Defining Insulin Resistance
Insulin resistance (IR) is a built-up tolerance to insulin, a hormone, making it less effective.
When you eat, your pancreas releases insulin into your blood stream to help move the sugar, or glucose, into your muscle and liver cells, to use it as energy, and lower your blood glucose (BG) to a normal range. However, when these cells reach capacity to store glucose, they no longer respond to insulin, causing the pancreas to produce more. This creates a cycle in which, eventually, your pancreas is overworked by producing excessive amounts of insulin, and your cells stop responding to it, causing BG levels to rise. This is known as insulin resistance, and it sets the stage for developing prediabetes and type two diabetes.
Causes of IR
Although there are a few uncontrollable risk factors, including aging and genetics, there are many modifiable factors that raise the risk of developing of IR, including:
· Sedentary lifestyle
· Physiological stress
· High sodium, sugar, and fat diet
· Alcohol use
Some health conditions may also increase your risk of developing IR, including sleep disorders, cardiovascular diseases, chronic inflammatory and autoimmune conditions, fatty liver disease, metabolic syndrome, and hormonal disorders.
Signs & Symptoms of IR
There are usually no symptoms of IR until it develops into prediabetes (PDM).
However, you can monitor your BG levels, and look out for symptoms related to hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar. Hyperglycemic symptoms may include:
· Increased thirst & hunger
· Increased urination
· Frequent headaches
· Frequent and recurring infections
· Slow-healing cuts
Other signs and symptoms of PDM may include:
· Darkened/velvety skin spots
· Numbness and/or tingling in your hands/feet
· Abdominal weight gain with an increased waistline
· High blood pressure
Insulin resistance usually mirrors hyperglycemia, so you may be assessed for associated signs/symptoms, and can get blood tests to measure your BG.
Tests may include:
· Hemoglobin A1C: Reflects your BG over the last 3 months
· Fasting BG: Indicates your BG level at the test time
· Oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT): Identifies how your body handles glucose after a meal
· Lipid panel: Hyperglycemia and IR are believed to increase fat, so this may be used to measure your cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and triglycerides
· Other tests to diagnose conditions such as metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular diseases, and thyroid dysfunctions, which are associated with IR.
Three Ways to prevent/reverse insulin resistance
1. Getting Active: Incorporating daily exercise and movement helps burn off excess fat and build more muscle to absorb more sugar. A single session of moderate exercise can increase your glucose absorption by at least 40%!
2. Reducing Stress: Stress causes our body to produce high amounts of a hormone called cortisol, which increases blood sugar levels. This puts more stress on the pancreas to increase insulin production. Reducing your stress levels—through daily meditation, exercise, or cutting sources of stress—can help prevent IR.
3. Giving your Body the Nutrition it Desires: Try incorporating healthy foods that have a low to medium glycemic index (nuts, non-starch veggies, fish, lean meats), and limit foods with a high glycemic index (processed foods, potatoes, white bread). Integrating high-fiber foods in your diet may also help lower your BG and cholesterol levels.
Larisa Belote, Health Practitioner & Certified Detox Specialist is a strong believer that your body is a smart machine and can heal itself given a chance and the right set of tools. Call/Txt 732.996.6963 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org for a free, 20-minute consultation.