Many people understand that insulin resistance (also often referred to as metabolic syndrome) is a risk factor for developing type II diabetes. What they don’t understand though is why this is the case.
You probably not have been diagnosed with
as it is not a specific diagnosis or disease. However, by assessing the level of sugar in your blood, your physician can confidently tell you if you have the issue.
Insulin resistance has been associated with many conditions such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, polycystic ovarian syndrome, pre-diabetes, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and of course, type II diabetes. If you have any indicators for insulin resistance, this is why it is important that your doctor mention it to you.
Beta cells are the producers of insulin and they are located in the pancreas. After you eat a meal, your body breaks down the food into glucose (sugar) and releases it into your blood stream. The pancreas then releases small amounts of insulin to help glucose get to the areas where your body most needs it. The cells in your body use glucose for energy to function.
With insulin resistance, specific cells such as fat, muscle, and liver cells do not effectively use insulin. The body tries to compensate by producing even more of the hormone to try to get the sugar into these cells. At some point, the beta cells and the pancreas can no longer keep up with the demand and the result is high blood sugar. This is when a diagnosis of pre-diabetes or type II diabetes might occur.
Insulin resistance is also often called metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is actually diagnosed when two of several conditions are observed. These include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, large waist measurement, high triglyceride levels, and a fasting blood glucose level of 100 mg/dL or above. So insulin resistance is actually a risk factor for metabolic syndrome which again, can lead to many other diseases.
Fortunately, there are many things you can do to avoid or even reverse insulin resistance. The first thing you should do is to lose weight. Even smaller amounts of weight loss such as 5-7% can significantly reduce your risk for getting certain diseases such as diabetes.
To lose weight, aim for a 500 calorie reduction in the total amount of calories consumed per day. Replace processed meals with fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean cuts of meat. Choose to avoid high fat foods such as fast food, candy bars, and fried foods. Your body needs fats every day but select small amounts of “good fats” such as olive oil and those found in avocadoes and nuts. Another recommendation is to increase your physical activity each day.
When you choose to increase your physical activity, your muscles have to work harder. When they are harder at work, they are better able to take up the sugar that insulin provides. Imagine when you are walking, riding your bike, or swimming, that your muscles are actually pulling glucose from your blood stream and making proper use of it. This might be a motivating image to help keep you going to reduce your risk for insulin resistance.
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