Exploring Insulin Resistance

Exploring Insulin Resistance: What happens in the body?

To truly comprehend insulin resistance, often referred to as prediabetes, let's delve into the role of insulin. When we consume food, our body converts it into dietary sugars. Insulin, a hormone released by the pancreas, instructs our cells to open up and convert those sugars into energy. However, in the case of insulin resistance, the cells fail to react and remain closed, leading to an excess of sugar in the bloodstream. Over time, the pancreas tries to regulate blood sugar levels by producing increasing amounts of insulin until it eventually becomes unable to produce sufficient insulin. Consequently, blood sugar levels rise to a diabetic range.

Who is at risk of developing insulin resistance?

Insulin resistance can affect anyone, but certain individuals face a higher risk, particularly those who are overweight or have a family history of type 2 diabetes. Other factors that contribute to this risk include being over the age of 45, having African, Latino, or Native American ancestry, smoking, and taking specific medications like steroids, anti-psychotics, or HIV medication. Additionally, medical conditions such as obstructive sleep apnea, fatty liver disease, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), Cushing's syndrome, and lipodystrophy syndromes are associated with insulin resistance. Lipodystrophy syndromes refer to conditions that cause abnormal fat loss or insufficient fat tissue in the body, both of which can be linked to insulin resistance.

What are the typical symptoms of insulin resistance?

Interestingly, many individuals with insulin resistance do not experience noticeable symptoms. Instead, it is often detected by doctors during annual health examinations or routine blood tests. However, there are signs that doctors may look for when evaluating the presence of insulin resistance, including:

  1. A waistline over 40 inches in men or over 35 inches in women.
  2. Skin tags or patches of dark velvety skin called acanthosis nigricans.
  3. Blood pressure reading of 130/80 or higher.
  4. Fasting glucose level equal to or above 100 milligrams per deciliter, or a blood sugar level equal to or above 140 milligrams per deciliter two hours after a glucose load test.
  5. A1C between 5.7% and 6.3%.
  6. Fasting triglycerides level over 150 milligrams per deciliter
  7. HDL cholesterol level under 40 milligrams per deciliter in men or under 50 milligrams per deciliter in women.

How is insulin resistance diagnosed?

If these symptoms are identified, doctors may proceed with a physical examination and various blood tests to measure glucose levels or assess glucose tolerance. One such blood test is the hemoglobin glycosylated A1C test, often referred to as A1C.

Can insulin resistance be reversed, and how?

Insulin resistance and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes can be reversed through lifestyle changes, and vitamin supplements, or a combination of both. It is essential to note that healthy bodies come in diverse shapes and sizes, and attempting drastic weight loss can be dangerous and counterproductive. Instead, consulting with a doctor or nutritionist can provide valuable guidance on incorporating healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, and lean proteins into one's meals. Additionally, integrating exercise and physical activity into daily routines in ways that feel enjoyable can be beneficial.

What can individuals do now to combat insulin resistance?

While complete eradication of insulin resistance may not always be possible, there are steps individuals can take to enhance insulin sensitivity in their bodies. Listening to the body's signals, managing stress levels, and providing the body with high-quality nutrition.

Here are four vitamin supplements commonly suggested as remedies for insulin resistance:

  1. Alpha-Lipoic Acid: Alpha-lipoic acid is an antioxidant that has shown promise in improving insulin sensitivity and reducing oxidative stress associated with insulin resistance. It may also help reduce inflammation and improve blood vessel function.
  2. Vitamin B complex: B vitamins, including B1 (thiamine), B3 (niacin), B6 (pyridoxine), and B12 (cobalamin), play essential roles in carbohydrate metabolism and maintaining healthy nerve function. Supplementing with a vitamin B complex may support optimal glucose metabolism and improve insulin sensitivity.
  3. Vitamin D: Adequate vitamin D levels have been associated with improved insulin sensitivity. Some studies suggest that vitamin D supplementation may help reduce insulin resistance and lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  4. Magnesium: Magnesium is involved in various biochemical reactions in the body, including insulin secretion and glucose utilization. Low magnesium levels have been linked to insulin resistance. Supplementation with magnesium may help improve insulin sensitivity and regulate blood sugar levels.