Insulin resistance - what is it?

man hands using lancet on finger to check blood sugar or ketones

Insulin resistance is a condition in which our body's hormone insulin cannot effectively regulate blood glucose levels. Insulin resistance occurs when the body's cells ignore insulin's signals to absorb circulating glucose, which then accumulates in the bloodstream and triggers more insulin production. This increase in insulin and glucose can lead to many serious health problems and increase the aging process. The exact causes of insulin resistance are complex and are still being researched, but we know that it can be affected by chronically high blood sugar levels, as well as other factors such as genetics, diet, lack of exercise, poor sleep and environmental toxins. It's important to maintain a healthy, balanced diet, especially if you have insulin resistance. This means reducing your intake of processed foods and limiting your sugar intake. Choosing non-starchy vegetables and increasing fiber can help reduce high blood sugar levels associated with insulin resistance. Drinking plenty of water each day to stay hydrated is also essential. Insulin resistance can be addressed by changing your diet and exercise habits. The more you work on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, the better your body will be able to utilize insulin. There are also natural ingredients and nutrients that can be taken to address and treat insulin resistance and maintain balanced insulin and blood sugar levels.

This is worth remembering!

When insulin resistance is left untreated, it can lead to many health complications, such as metabolic syndrome. This is a cluster of conditions, including high blood sugar, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and excess abdominal fat. If you have metabolic syndrome, you are also at much higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, which is associated with further complications. That's why it's important to know your risk factors and see your doctor if you have any concerns, so you can get a proper diagnosis.The good news is that with a good diet and a healthy lifestyle, you can manage insulin resistance before it can do any long-term damage.

If you have been diagnosed with insulin resistance, your first question may be whether any medications can treat the condition. Many doctors prescribe metformin to patients with pre-diabetes and/or insulin resistance. It works by reducing the liver's production of glucose and increasing the insulin sensitivity of cells. However, it does not address the underlying cause of insulin resistance. Pioglitazone is another drug that lowers blood sugar levels by increasing the body's sensitivity to insulin. This drug is not as popular as metformin, however, in part because of the potential side effect of mild weight gain. Although drugs can play a role in improving insulin sensitivity and delaying the onset of type 2 diabetes, they are rarely sufficient as a sole intervention.

Virtually any dietary intervention that results in weight loss, especially abdominal fat loss, can temporarily improve insulin sensitivity. Low-carbohydrate diets certainly fit this description and may be more effective than low-fat diets for improving insulin sensitivity. One observational study even suggested improved survival in people with pre-diabetes who ate a lower carbohydrate diet, while a stronger non-randomized study showed glucose normalization in more than 50% participants with pre-diabetes. The reason why low-carbohydrate diets are good for people with insulin resistance is simple: if you don't eat sugar - or carbohydrates that digest quickly to sugar - you will have less sugar in your bloodstream, and therefore less need to produce insulin to move sugar (glucose) from your blood into your cells. If your body is already insulin resistant, creating this internal environment where high levels of insulin are not needed to maintain normal blood sugar levels is extremely helpful.

Summary

When there is a lot of excess insulin and blood sugar in our bloodstream, it signals our body to put the excess sugar into storage. We can store some sugar in the liver and muscles, but when they are full, our body begins to store extra sugar in the form of fat. This, of course, begins to cause weight gain. When blood sugar levels are constantly elevated, it can lead to many chronic conditions, including heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness, diseases of the nerves in our bodies, foot ulcers and infections. There are many factors that can lead to insulin resistance, including diet, genetics and weight. The most exciting thing about insulin resistance is that it can be delayed or prevented. Dietary changes, physical activity and even certain medications can be powerful tools to help lower blood sugar and insulin levels.

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