Insulin resistance is serious but manageable
There are over 50 types of hormones in the human body that are responsible for the efficiency of various body functions. One of these hormones is insulin.
Today we will cover how insulin resistance is responsible for some of the most common and serious health conditions like prediabetes, metabolism syndrome, obesity, heart diseases, etc.
Let’s begin with knowing…
What does insulin do?
The food that you eat is used as fuel to run the body. When this food is digested, the complex carbohydrates (sugar & starches) are broken down into simpler sugars called glucose.
At this stage, this glucose is present in your bloodstream where insulin comes into action.
Insulin is an essential hormone produced by the pancreas.
Insulin works with glucose and serves two important purposes
Converting food to energy
Insulin binds to glucose in your bloodstream and allows it to enter the body’s cells where it is used to produce energy for different body functions.
Converting energy to fat
When there are high levels of glucose in the bloodstream and not much energy is required by the body, this excess energy is stored in the form of fat called glycogen, an energy reserve.
It is mainly stored in the liver, muscles and adipose tissues (commonly called body fat). Heart cells, brain cells and kidney cells also contain some glycogen in small amounts in case of an energy crisis.
This is how healthy levels of insulin help in regulating blood glucose.
Insulin sensitivity vs. insulin resistance (IR)
Insulin sensitivity is the ability of your cells to respond to the signals sent out by the insulin hormone, whereas, resistance to insulin means that your cells are poor at reading those signals and are ignoring them.
When insulin sensitivity decreases, insulin resistance increases and vice versa.
What is insulin resistance?
According to a study, 15.5%-46.5% of adults across the globe are resistant to insulin to some extent. It occurs when the insulin receptors on your cells do not fully respond to the insulin. This makes it difficult for insulin to take glucose into those cells on time.
In response, your body produces more insulin to get the process going.
You may think that this should resolve the issue but not quite so, the continued overproduction of insulin over a long period has been observed to worsen the resistance to insulin and multiply the complications.
What causes IR?
It is believed that some dietary, lifestyle, presence of certain health conditions and genetic factors increase the chances of you developing insulin insensitivity.
You can become insulin resistant if you…
- Are older than 45 years
- Have PCOS
- Have a family history with IR
- Have a family history with cardiovascular diseases
- Have hypertension or abnormal cholesterol levels
- Are physically inactive
Symptoms of being insulin resistant
If your blood sugar levels are constantly high you may experience these symptoms as warning signs
- Higher than normal blood glucose in a test
- Frequent urge to urinate as your kidneys flush out excess glucose via the urine
- Excessive thirst as your body requires fluid to help kidneys filter out the extra glucose
IR and metabolic syndrome
The metabolic syndrome a.k.a. insulin resistance disorder refers to the co-occurrence of a group of several health conditions that increase your risk of diabetes, stroke and heart disease.
Risks factors that constitute metabolic disorder are
- High blood sugar
- Abdominal obesity
- High blood triglycerides,
- High blood pressure
- Low levels of HDL cholesterol
There is no clinically accepted test for insulin sensitivity.
It has been observed that people with lower insulin sensitivity also possess most of the features of metabolic syndrome.
Therefore, IR is typically assessed by the presence of the above-mentioned risk factors.
IR and prediabetes
As discussed earlier, in IR there is an overproduction of insulin to transport glucose into cells. This puts immense pressure on beta cells that have produced more and more insulin.
Over time, your beta cells wear out and the pancreas is no longer able to meet this high demand for insulin which leads to increased levels of blood sugar in your bloodstream.
That’s how insulin resistance leads to prediabetes which can later develop into full-blown type-2 diabetes.
How to increase insulin sensitivity?
What you can do is try out different techniques to help your cells become more receptive to insulin levels before it’s too late to reverse IR.
Lose some weight
Obesity is linked with several cardiovascular diseases, fatty organs, and IR.
Getting in shape by shedding extra pounds is the best way to make your body respond well to the available insulin.
Exercise helps in increasing insulin sensitivity immediately by pumping up glucose in cells to produce energy. Doing daily exercise for at least 30 minutes is recommended to stay fit and eliminate the chances of developing prediabetes. You can try yoga for weight loss to lower insulin resistance.
Cut down carbs
Keep an account of how much sugar you are taking daily. Avoid foods that are high in artificial sweeteners and starches like preserved sauces, cakes, candies, fast foods, white sugar, etc. This will help in keeping unhealthy sugar out of your bloodstream, keep you fit and not worsen the situation if you already have IR.
A fibre-rich diet that contains fresh fruits and vegetables is highly beneficial in regulating healthy insulin and glucose levels. They keep your gut healthy and do not lead to fat deposition. Follow the prediabetic diet to lower blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity.
Sleep like a baby
There is no substitute for a deep 7-8 hour long sleep. Sleep impairment is closely linked to heart problems, high-stress levels and hormonal imbalances.
Over the past few decades, the cases of insulin resistance have skyrocketed mainly due to our lifestyle and other factors leading to obesity.
If left untreated it can result in some very serious health complications proving to be fatal, like cardiac arrest.
But with healthy intervention, this vicious cycle can be broken and insulin resistance can be reversed.
Curing insulin resistance completely is not possible but management is a great way to live healthily by reducing resistance.
IR can be managed with the right diet that is low in carbs and artificial sweeteners. You must exercise regularly to increase insulin sensitivity. Meditation also helps in improved body functioning and self-awareness. You’ll be able to stick to your routine and live a quality life.
Obesity, diet and lifestyle problems are what increase the risks of your derailed insulin levels. In women, having PCOS and PCOD is linked with high levels of insulin and decreased insulin sensitivity.
Other factors include environmental and genetic issues that make you prone to getting prediabetes in the long run.
Metabolic syndrome is a serious condition because it is a cluster of various health problems, most commonly due to increased danger of cardiovascular diseases. You are prone to getting heart attacks and a glucose coma because of high blood sugar levels.
If left untreated this group of health problems can aggravate and be more damaging for people above 45 years of age.
Insulin resistance happens when your body cells do not respond to insulin. This leads to high blood sugar levels as insulin is unable to transfer them to cells for energy production.
This spike in blood sugar is due to insulin sensitivity is termed prediabetes.
They both do not mean the same thing but the condition of being insulin resistant and prediabetes are, hence, closely related.