All You Need to Know About Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance is a condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Diet high in processed foods, added sugar, and a sedentary lifestyle may contribute to growing numbers. By 2030, around 5.5 million people in the UK may end up with diabetes. You can live with insulin resistance for years without being aware of the diagnosis – but the condition possesses serious risks for developing diabetes. This article breaks down all important facts about insulin resistance and how to get tested. 

What is insulin resistance? 

To start with the basics, insulin is a hormone produced in your pancreas that regulates blood sugar (glucose) levels. Insulin helps glucose in your blood to enter muscles, fat and liver cells so they can use it for energy. Insulin resistance occurs when cells in your muscles, fat and liver can’t process glucose from your blood into energy and can’t respond to insulin as well as it should. As a result, it may lead to increased glucose levels in your blood, which is considered a high-risk factor for developing pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes. 

Let’s break down what is the difference between the diabetes types and insulin resistance. 

Type 2 diabetes is considered the most common type of diabetes and occurs when you don’t have enough insulin to process the glucose in the blood, which results in high glucose levels. 

Type 1 diabetes, on the other hand, is an autoimmune condition that requires ongoing treatment. People with type 1 diabetes have to inject authentic insulin into their blood daily, as their immune system destroys cells that produce insulin.

Another type of diabetes common for pregnant women is gestational diabetes. It occurs when the placenta produces hormones that cause glucose to build up in the blood. It usually disappears after birth. 

Diabetes symptoms

Diabetes is hard to diagnose without a comprehensive check up. However, there are some symptoms that you may look into. Common symptoms may include: 

  • Excessive thirst 
  • Hunger even after a meal 
  • Tingling and numbness in extremities 
  • Fatigue
  • Sores that won’t heal 
  • Blurry vision

How to get tested for insulin resistance? 

The good news is that insulin resistance is something you can prevent or reverse before it turns into diabetes. 

You may live with insulin resistance for a while without knowing it. That is why getting tested and detecting signs of insulin resistance early is crucial to getting proper treatment. While factors such as medical history, genetics and complete physical exam are considered for the diagnosis, a blood test is an important part of the process as it measures glucose levels. 

Blood tests that are usually recommended are: 

  • Fasting plasma glucose test that measures your blood sugar while you haven’t consumed any food for 8 hours. After conducting the blood test, you may take an oral glucose tolerance test that is taken after you drink a sugary solution. 
  • Glycated hemoglobin (A1c) shows your average blood sugar levels throughout 2 to 3 months. This blood test can be used to diagnose diabetes and to monitor your blood sugar levels if you have already been diagnosed. 

Tips for insulin resistance prevention

While it is necessary to consult with your physician if medication is needed, some lifestyle changes may help reverse insulin resistance or prevent it before it occurs. 

Weight management and exercise 

Lowering your weight is one of the steps to preventing or reversing insulin resistance. If you have low physical activity, try to introduce at least a 30-minute exercise or a walk in the park every day. 

Healthy diet 

Following a balanced diet is always vital for your wellbeing. A diabetes diet is based on having three meals a day at a consistent time. This eating schedule helps your body regulate blood sugar. The foods that will benefit you are whole grains (oats, brown rice, quinoa, couscous), fruit, fish, lean protein meats, beans, vegetables, and good fats (olive oil, avocados, sesame oil, canola oil). On the other hand, avoid processed foods and foods high in saturated fats and added sugars. 

Finally, don’t forget to consult with your healthcare provider to get a proper treatment plan in case you have been experiencing symptoms of diabetes. 

Author of the publication

Polina Kuznetsova
Polina Kuznetsova
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