February 8, 2016
Insulin Resistance Discussion
The cause of insulin resistance is not well understood. Everyone knows that insulin is a hormone that acts like a key to unlock your cells and let glucose into the cells. Insulin resistance causes the lock and key not to work, even when your body produces more insulin when glucose levels rise in your blood.
Often you will not experience symptoms for varying lengths of time. You will not know that you have insulin resistance. People with severe insulin resistance sometimes develop dark patches of skin on their necks, elbows, hands, and armpits. Your chances of becoming insulin resistant go up if you're overweight, don't get enough exercise, have high blood pressure, or you smoke.
Your blood system may also increase the chances of having insulin resistance, including low HDL (good) cholesterol, high levels of triglycerides in your blood, heart disease, and blood vessel disease in your neck or legs. People with an African American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, Asian American, or a Pacific Islander heritage are more likely to become resistant to insulin. If your parent, brother, or sister has type 2 diabetes, your risk is higher. If your mother had diabetes while she was pregnant with you (gestational diabetes), your risk also goes up as does the risk for your mother.
The test for insulin resistance is complicated and uncomfortable, so instead, your doctor will probably test you for prediabetes (blood glucose levels that's higher than it should be, 100 to 125 mg/dl). A lab can check the level of glucose in your blood after you haven't eaten for a while, or find an "average" blood sugar level for the past few months. Numbers that are higher than normal suggest you're insulin resistant.
It's hard on your pancreas to keep cranking out extra insulin to try to get glucose into your body's cells. Eventually, the cells that make insulin can burn out, leading to prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. If you catch insulin resistance early and make changes to your lifestyle, you may stop that from happening.
Cut back on sweets, refined grains, and have lots of low carb vegetables and fruits. That kind of eating plan will help you get to and stay at a healthy weight. It also helps your cells use insulin better. The low carb, high fat (LCHF) way of eating, for people with high blood pressure, is a good example. It helps to reduce salt amounts, too. It can lower insulin resistance, especially if you slim down and become more active while you're at it. Studies have also shown a link between low vitamin D and your body not using insulin well.
Physical activity goes a long way toward fighting insulin resistance. Like a healthy way of eating, it helps you lose weight. Exercise also helps your cells use insulin, especially in your muscles. Aim for at least 30 minutes of activity a day, most days of the week. Your heart should beat faster, and you should breathe a little harder.
Lifestyle changes are the best treatment for insulin resistance. But, if you have the condition and are very likely to get type 2 diabetes, your doctor may also want you to try the drug metformin. It can prevent or delay type 2 for younger, heavier people with a very high chance of getting it. Metformin may also help hold off type 2 for women who've had gestational diabetes.
Insulin resistance is part , but not all, of this condition. People with metabolic syndrome have at least three of these traits: a large waist, high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, high blood pressure, and blood glucose that is higher than normal. It raises your chances for diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
I will not go into the technical side of insulin resistance, as a LCHF way of eating can really help in raising HDL, lowering triglycerides, lowering blood pressure, and improving health.