Insulin resistance is often an unseen change in the body.  Many people don’t realize they have it, and there is not a specific test to diagnose it.  Your doctor may look at several other blood tests to determine whether you may be at risk.  High blood sugar levels, high LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, and high triglycerides are warning signs.  No one knows exactly why some people will develop insulin resistance, but having a family history of type 2 diabetes seems to increase the risk.

What is insulin resistance?

Glucose is the main type of sugar in our blood.  The pancreas produces insulin, a hormone that helps the body absorb and process glucose.  Insulin resistance occurs when there is too much glucose in the blood, preventing the body from using insulin effectively.  People with insulin resistance are at risk for developing prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.

Risk factors

Risk factors for insulin resistance are the same as those for prediabetes and diabetes.  A major factor includes being overweight or obesity.  Excess abdominal fat makes the body less sensitive to insulin.  A sedentary lifestyle, smoking, and not getting enough sleep also contribute to insulin resistance.  Additionally, there is a study associating high blood pressure and insulin resistance.

Addressing insulin resistance

The following are some lifestyle changes that can help reverse insulin resistance.

  • Weight loss – Make healthy food choices and monitor portion control.  Eat a balanced diet to keep blood sugar levels in check.  Choose more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.  Eliminate processed sugars, carbohydrates, and saturated fats.  Avoid skipping meals as this leads to unhealthy swings in insulin and blood sugar levels.  These dietary changes can aid in weight loss.
  • Physical activity – A daily routine of physical activity can help with weight loss.  Exercise helps muscles use blood sugar for energy.  The body is more sensitive to insulin when we are more active, and our muscles are able to use glucose more effectively. 
  • Lower blood sugar levels – Manage your carbohydrate intake to lower blood sugar.  A low carb diet prevents blood sugar spikes.  Increase fiber intake, as fiber slows carbohydrate digestion and sugar absorption.  Stay hydrated so the kidneys can flush out excess sugar through the urine.
  • Reduce stress – According to the National Institutes of Health, studies show that chronic stress plays a role in insulin resistance.  Stress can affect blood sugar levels.  Getting enough sleep and making time in your schedule for relaxation can help reduce stress.
  • Get enough sleep – Lack of sleep is associated with weight gain, and excess weight disrupts the function of insulin responsive cells.

The physicians at RMD Primary Care can answer your questions about insulin resistance and medical weight lossContact us today for an appointment.