If you are worried about developing type 2 diabetes, then you have probably heard about the importance of insulin. Your body must process insulin properly in order to avoid this disease. However, before you develop type 2 diabetes, your body goes through a process. The first stage is insulin resistance, followed by prediabetes, and then finally full blown type 2 diabetes. If you can prevent insulin resistance, then you greatly reduce your chances of developing type 2 diabetes. This is important since type 2 diabetes can cause serious medical problems and even lead to death. Let’s learn more about insulin resistance, its symptoms and causes, and how it is treated.
What is Insulin Resistance?
Your pancreas produces insulin, a hormone, that helps regulate how much energy your body receives. This energy is called glucose. Insulin tells your body’s cells to absorb glucose, which the cells then use for energy. This is how your body is fueled for all actions, from breathing to running. Without enough glucose, your body would shut down.
Insulin resistance is simply when your body stops responding to insulin. The cells in your body no longer absorb the appropriate amounts of glucose to use for fuel. This leaves too much glucose in the blood and not enough in the cells for energy.
Symptoms of Insulin Resistance
People with insulin resistance typically do not show any symptoms. This can make it very difficult to diagnose insulin resistance and many people do not realize they have a problem until they are diagnosed with prediabetes.
A small number of people with insulin resistance develop a skin condition called acanthosis nigricans. This is marked by dark patches on the back of the neck, armpits and groin.
The best way to check for insulin resistance is through blood tests. Your doctor can check your glucose levels, insulin levels, HDL cholesterol and triglycerides. These will give your doctor a better understanding of how your body is processing glucose and can help him diagnose insulin resistance.
Causes of Insulin Resistance
Scientists still do not understand what exactly causes insulin resistance. It appears to be caused by a variety of different factors. However, those who are usually diagnosed with insulin resistance, prediabetes and type 2 diabetes often share the same characteristics.
Most people with insulin resistance are overweight, sedentary and eat a diet high in carbohydrates. This combination leads to a higher production of glucose, which leads to high insulin levels. The more insulin your body produces, the greater your chance of developing insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance is also linked to many other diseases. Women who have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) are more likely to be insulin resistant. Fatty liver disease, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer are also linked to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is also associated with heart disease. The link between these diseases and insulin resistance is still unclear. Researchers are not sure what comes first, but insulin resistance might cause most of these diseases.
Treatment for Insulin Resistance
The best way to treat insulin resistance is by changing your lifestyle. Becoming healthier through diet and exercise can dramatically improve your body’s reaction to insulin. Medication or insulin shots are not necessary at this point because your pancreas is still producing insulin.
Regular exercise will help you lose weight and also helps the body regulate its insulin production. You should shoot for 30 minutes per session and you should exercise at least three days per week. You can even workout up to five days a week. Begin with simple exercises like walking and body weight exercises. As you increase your fitness, you can try more difficult exercises like running and lifting heavy weights.
A healthy diet is key to regulating insulin production. Your diet should consist of whole foods like vegetables, lean meats, and healthy fats. Avoid sugary, processed, and low fiber, high carb foods. Drink water and ditch the sodas and energy drinks.
You can also decrease insulin resistance by quitting smoking and cutting down on alcohol consumption. This will help you maintain a healthy weight and exercise more regularly.
Insulin resistance is the first indicator that you may develop type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to diagnose since there are no obvious symptoms. Therefore, it is important to have your glucose levels regularly tested, especially if you are overweight or lead a sedentary life. The best way to avoid developing insulin resistance is to eat a healthy diet that is rich in protein and healthy fats. Some carbohydrates are okay to eat, but sugary, processed foods should be avoided. Regular exercise is also important in preventing insulin resistance. If you suspect you may have developed insulin resistance, contact your doctor and have your blood sugar tested. Catching irregular insulin activity as early as possible will make it much easier to correct your lifestyle and prevent the development of type 2 diabetes.