The human body is amazing and complicated and when if functions properly we feel healthy. However, when there is an interruption in function we begin to feel unwell. One common condition involves changes in how our body responds to insulin. When our bodies fail to manage insulin properly, this is insulin resistance and our health will begin to deteriorate.
Insulin resistance occurs when the body loses the inability to respond properly to the hormone insulin. It is often related to obesity, although there are other medical causes.
Insulin resistance can lead to diabetes type 2 but it is not inevitable. With changes in diet and activity level, and perhaps medication, you can reverse insulin resistance. In my book, Second Chance at Health-Learn to Love Active Living and Clean Eating, I provide you with tools and ideas how to find the best eating plans and movement plans that can ameliorate this condition.
I will discuss the type of insulin resistance that is seen in overweight and obese adults in this post, and what you can do to avoid it or improve it.
What is Insulin Resistance?
Insulin is a hormone that is produced in the pancreas that is produced to transport sugar into the cells for use as energy or to be stored as fat. When the cells become resistant to insulin, two significant changes occur. First, the insulin levels rise in order to have more available to transport sugar, which does help in the short term, but then the body becomes even more resistant. Subsequently blood sugar elevations occur as the cells are unable to use the sugar in the blood, and this is when pre-diabetes and diabetes is diagnosed. Too much sugar in blood negatively affects nerves, the cardiovascular system and more.
It is known that elevated insulin (hyperinsulinemia) and insulin resistance often precedes diabetes type 2. Hyperinsulinemia can be identified with the measurement of insulin level by a lab test. You may go to my Ulta Lab Test NurseChrisP site to determine your insulin level and then present the results of the test to your doctor for his/her direction of your care.
What does Hyperinsulinemia or Insulin Resistance Feel Like?
There are no symptoms of insulin resistance. Any symptoms that do appear are related to the elevated blood sugar that ultimately occurs when the sugars cannot be moved out of the blood into our cells and used. The symptoms of elevated blood sugar include fatigue, difficulty concentrating and hunger. Measurable signs include elevated blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels, and fat around the middle. These are also the signs for a condition called Metabolic Syndrome.
What can Cause Insulin Resistance?
Poor diet and lack of exercise and the resulting obesity can cause this condition. Additionally chronic stress can play a role too. Steroids taken for other medical conditions can also contribute. Certain diseases, such as Cushing’s Disease or Poly Cystic Ovarian Disease can also be a factor.
How to Avoid Insulin Resistance
Avoiding insulin resistance that is related to inactivity and obesity is as simple as maintaining a healthy weight and living an active lifestyle. Using BMI (Body Mass Index) can be useful as a guideline and maintaining a BMI of less than 24.9 is the recommendation. Activity should be, at a minimum 150 minutes of moderate exercise or equivalent per week. 10K steps per day is a great goal to set.
If you already have insulin resistance simply increasing your daily physical activity can improve your insulin sensitivity. One study has shown that insulin sensitivity increases by 20% after just one hour of aerobic exercise and persists for approximately 20-48 hours thereafter,
Lab testing recommendations
Blood testing is the only way to determine if your blood sugar or insulin level is elevated. Fasting blood tests are the most accurate. Fasting for 8-12 hours will give you the best and most reliable results. If you have a fasting blood sugar that is over the normal, it is recommended that you recheck it every 2 years. That is not frequent enough for me. I do not recommend waiting for 2 years to go by before addressing it. If you have elevated blood sugar or elevated insulin levels, lifestyle changes should be made immediately and then I recommend rechecking again in 3-6 months. Ulta Lab testing offers a Metabolic Syndrome Package with insulin.
However, lab testing is not necessary. If you are obese, have a waist circumference of more than 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men, with confirmed high cholesterol, you can fairly say that you have insulin resistance.
Reversing Suspected or Confirmed Insulin Resistance with Lifestyle Changes
Reversing suspected or confirmed insulin resistance is simple. Halting insulin resistance that is not related to another serious health condition it possible. Changes to diet and activity level are recommended to improve how our bodies handle insulin and sugar.
The recommended diet changes include ketogenic diets, very low carbohydrate and very low calorie diets. Significant exercise and a healthy diet can reverse insulin resistance.
Simply increasing your physical activity daily will improve your insulin sensitivity, even if you don’t lose any weight. Aim for 40-60 minutes per day. Dividing up the physical exercise through out the day is an option that yields similar benefits.
By using my book, the Second Chance at Health-Learn to Love Active Living and Clean Eating , you can choose the best diet and the best exercise that can possibly reverse the condition and reduce your risk for this condition.
If you are overweight or obese, and feel fatigued and have difficulty concentrating why not check your insulin level?
Visit your. doctor and ask if he or she is concerned about this condition. You may also use my lab test link here Ulta Lab Test NurseChrisP and check for yourself. You could also measure your waist at just above your hip bones, and if you are over the recommendation, and obese (BMI <30), have high cholesterol and high blood pressure, then you most likely are insulin resistant to some degree.
Disclaimer: always seek care from your primary care provider for any health issues or concerns that you have.
In summary, lifestyle changes will improve or eliminate insulin resistance that is not the result of another serious health condition. Improving or eliminating hyperinsulinemia can help you avoid the progression to diabetes.
Order my book now to reduce your risk for diabetes by choosing to love active living and clean eating!
Ross Can J Cardiol 2008 PMC: 2794451).