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What is Insulin Resistance?

Insulin resistance: What it means and how you can prevent it

Nearly 1 in 3 Americans (32%) are pre-diabetic. That’s not the worst part of this. The numbers for people who are insulin resistant or who actually have diabetes are staggering. Let’s just jump right in

A study found that 40% of normal-weight Americans show signs of being pre-diabetic, and an estimated 32% of the population have a physiological condition called insulin resistance. However, most cases go undiagnosed until the condition progresses into something more serious – Type 2 diabetes.

By being aware of insulin resistance and understanding how to address it, you can prevent this simple glucose absorption problem from becoming a serious and even life-threatening disease.

What is insulin resistance?

Your body produces insulin to help metabolize everything you eat. After a meal, your blood sugar rises – and your body releases insulin to work with your cells to absorb that glucose and turn it into energy. Sometimes, these cells stop responding, and while your pancreas is still producing insulin, it’s all just getting ignored.

This breakdown means that your body isn’t able to correctly absorb glucose from your bloodstream, keeping you from producing energy properly. It also creates a buildup of insulin in the blood, since your body will just keep making it in the hope that it will get used.

Basically, insulin resistance just means that your body isn’t handling sugar in a normal way – and it’s usually a signal that you need to pay attention to your body to get things back on track.

What are the risk factors?

Some people, like overweight and obese women, are more susceptible to developing insulin resistance than others.

While there are significant genetic factors that can lead to this condition, lifestyle choices make a dramatic impact. Carrying too much body fat, particularly in the midsection, increases your likelihood of developing insulin resistance. A good indication that you could be at risk is a waist measurement of more than 100cm for men or 88cm for women.

Still, you don’t need to be overweight to suffer from glucose absorption issues. People who consume high amounts of fructose in added sugars are at risk, and studies have linked increased inflammation and oxidative stress to insulin resistance. Couch-potatoes are also more likely to develop this condition, since research shows a relationship between insulin resistance and persistent physical inactivity.

What does insulin resistance look like?

This condition doesn’t always present with noticeable signs or symptoms. However, there are some indicators that might warrant a visit to the doctor – especially if you already have some of the risk factors involved with insulin resistance.

These include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Intestinal bloating
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Sleepiness, particularly after eating
  • Weight gain, excess fat storage, or difficulty losing weight
  • Excess belly fat
  • Increased hunger
  • Symptoms of depression or anxiety

Several kinds of blood tests can check for insulin resistance and prediabetes, and these conditions can be either reversed or significantly reduced with a little hard work.

How can I reverse it?

All you need to combat insulin resistance is a bit of willpower.

Physical activity is your best defense against this, and most other metabolic conditions. Even as little as 30 minutes a day, five times a week is enough to make a difference. For better results, though, aim to get rid of that “spare tire” around your waist – it’s that deep visceral fat that really disrupts your body’s normal insulin response.

You should also consider changing up your diet. A ketogenic or low-carb diet is especially helpful, since eating carbohydrates makes your blood sugar rise. Also, eliminate foods with added sugar from your diet. Your body isn’t processing them correctly, and all that glucose is just building up in your bloodstream.

While there isn’t as much evidence to show how these factors impact insulin resistance, reducing stress and getting more restful sleep might help, too.

The thing to remember about insulin resistance is that while it is a physiological condition that should be taken seriously, you can make simple changes to prevent or reduce it – all you need to do is take action!

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