Diabetes Management

What Is Insulin Resistance? Causes, Symptoms, and Solutions

April 2022

These little-known facts about insulin resistance could be the key to fighting diabetes

Don’t we always wish we could find that one thing that could fix most of our problems in life? Insulin resistance is one such example. Working on decreasing your insulin resistance could help you lose weight and keep it off, fight prediabetes, prevent or manage diabetes, and reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol. Pretty interesting, isn’t it?

Table of Content

So, what is insulin and why would your body get resistant to it?

Your body breaks down whatever you eat into sugar. This sugar needs to enter your cells to provide you with energy. Now, insulin is like a key that helps the sugar get into your cells to do what it is supposed to. Imagine a scenario where you have lost the key or you have the wrong key. Then the glucose can’t enter the cells. So, now you have a lot of insulin that isn’t functioning well. It is known as insulin resistance. Ideally, the key would turn the lock, and then glucose would enter the cells. Lowering the blood sugar levels. 

How would you know if you have insulin resistance?

Insulin resistance has an impact on many aspects of your health – such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, metabolic syndrome, and PCOS. It is also referred to as a silent risk as it doesn’t have many non-clinical symptoms. And therefore the best way to detect if you have insulin resistance is to get regular health checkups. Here are a few signs that can tell you if you have insulin resistance: 

      • A waistline of over 40 inches in men and 35 inches in women 
      • Blood pressure higher than 130/80 or higher 
      • A fasting glucose level over 100 mg/dL 
      • A fasting triglyceride level of over 150 mg/dL 
      • A HDL cholesterol level under 40 mg/dL in men and 50 mg/dL in women
      • Skin tags and patches of dark velvety skin known as acanthosis nigricans 
      • Irregular menstrual cycle 

How did you develop it?

Insulin resistance can be genetic. However, there are also acquired causes of insulin resistance. Let’s learn more about them: 

   1. Excess body fat:

Research shows that obesity, particularly excess fat around your waist and organs, is also known as visceral fat. As mentioned above, a waistline of 40 inches in men and 35 inches in women. Visceral fat increases inflammation in your body which can contribute to insulin resistance. 

    2. Physical inactivity:

Physical activity increases your insulin sensitivity and helps you build which helps absorb glucose from your blood. And keep your blood sugar levels in check. However, lack of physical activity can have the opposite effect. Leading a sedentary lifestyle with no to little physical activity can lead to obesity which can increase insulin resistance. 

   3. Diet:

Highly processed diets that have a high amount of carbohydrates and saturated fats get digested very quickly by your body and spike your blood sugar levels. Increased blood sugar levels over a long span of time can increase insulin resistance. By putting pressure on your pancreas to produce a lot of insulin. 

  4. Medicines:

Certain medications, such as steroids and certain hypertension and psychiatric disorders can lead to insulin resistance. 

   5. Medical conditions:

Certain medical conditions – hormonal and genetic can increase insulin resistance. 

What could happen if you don’t do anything about it?

If insulin resistance is not managed on time, it can lead to severe complications. Insulin resistance can raise insulin production so your body can maintain normal blood sugar levels. Higher insulin levels can lead to high cholesterol, hypertension, vascular complications, and hardened arteries. It can also lead to an increased risk of stroke, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes. 

What can you do about it?

There is no overnight solution to insulin resistance. It involves making consistent and sustainable lifestyle changes. Physical activity, especially weight training can help build muscle and make you more sensitive to insulin. This is connected with the next solution which is weight loss. As we know that being overweight, especially those with a high waist circumference are more likely to develop insulin resistance. Losing even 5% body weight can reduce your health risks from insulin resistance. Having a healthy and balanced diet, good quality and adequate sleep, and stress management also have in mitigating insulin resistance. A comprehensive weight management plan that takes into account more than the traditional aspect of weight loss is the best way to tackle insulin resistance. Fitterfly’s plans for stubborn weight loss, prediabetes, and type 2 diabetes are designed to manage all these aspects. Along with three dedicated coaches to guide you through your journey. 

Are there tests to diagnose insulin resistance?

There is no singular test to diagnose insulin resistance. There are however tests that are associated with signs of insulin test, which can give a full picture to your doctor about whether you have insulin resistance. You can test for fasting blood glucose, HBA1c, and a lipid panel test. If you have health complications your doctor may even order related tests such as metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, or PCOS. 

How should you change your food habits to beat insulin resistance?

Yes. This is key. To start with avoid highly processed foods that are high in carbohydrates, saturated fats, and sugar. It is important to have a diet that is balanced and most importantly rich in fiber and protein to promote satiety. But wait doesn’t google the best diet for insulin resistance management. A generic plan will not help and most importantly not be sustainable. Fitterfly’s programs conduct a thorough assessment of your nutrition and your blood sugar levels using blood sugar level logs, a detailed consult call, and CGMS (Diabefly Pro). And use this information to understand your personalized glycemic response to create a personalized diet plan with food pairings that don’t cause sudden spikes or dips in your blood sugar levels. 

What kind of exercises are best for reducing insulin resistance?

Both aerobic and weight training exercises can help improve your insulin sensitivity and help reduce insulin resistance and related complications. Building muscles has been shown to significantly help reduce insulin resistance, as excess glucose from blood gets absorbed by your muscles. However, it is important to have an expert guide you to ensure you eliminate the risk of injury. Fitterly’s programs include a detailed fitness assessment test to make sure you start at a level that will not lead to any pain or discomfort. It also includes pain management therapy to take care of existing pain. Especially if you have joint or heel pain. 

How stress and lack of restful sleep can worsen insulin resistance?

Stress and sleep can reduce insulin sensitivity. Sleep deprivation and poor quality sleep can impact cortisol and insulin levels and can therefore increase your blood glucose levels. Not getting enough sleep can also increase inflammation in your body which can also reduce insulin sensitivity. Increased stress can trigger the release of hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. However, these make it difficult for insulin to function properly contributing to insulin resistance. This is why you have access to a fittermind coach for stress and sleep management and habit formation for being able to sustain these lifestyle changes for a long time. 

Are there medicines to reduce insulin resistance?

No. There are no medicines for treating insulin resistance. However, certain medicines prescribed for diabetes can reduce insulin resistance. The best way to reduce insulin resistance is by making lifestyle changes that tackle the root causes. 

Can I get professional help to reduce insulin resistance?

Yes. You can speak with your doctor or your diabetes management care team to help you personalize your diabetes care plan or your weight loss plan to help reduce insulin resistance. However, since insulin resistance is a combination of multiple factors it is important to work to tackle them all. 

Fittertake: Fitterfly’s prediabetes, type 2 diabetes, and stubborn weight loss programs – Diabefly Pro and Reset23 are highly personalized based on over 1300+ data points and detailed assessment of nutrition, physical, and mental health. Not only that you are also provided with a 3 coach team to help guide you throughout the journey, track your progress, improvise based on your progress, and provide a support system. Our programs are clinically validated and outcome-oriented. 

 

References: 

https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/insulin-resistance.html

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/22206-insulin-resistance

https://www.healthline.com/health/diabetes/insulin-resistance-symptoms

https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/what-is-diabetes/prediabetes-insulin-resistance

 

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