Are You Insulin Resistant?

Women with hormone imbalance issues often hear the term “insulin resistance” thrown around in the doctor’s office. Have you heard this term in relation to your PCOS, insomnia, chronic fatigue, or other diagnosis?

Insulin resistance isn’t a guarantee of diabetes, but it can be a precursor to it if you’re not careful. That’s why taking control of your health NOW is so important!

First we will learn a bit about what insulin resistance is, and then some easy changes you can make to increase insulin sensitivity.

What is insulin?

Insulin is a hormone made in the pancreas, an organ located behind the stomach. The pancreas contains clusters of cells called islets. Beta cells within the islets make insulin and release it into the blood.

Insulin plays a major role in metabolism—the way the body uses digested food for energy. The digestive tract breaks down carbohydrates—sugars and starches found in many foods—into glucose. Glucose is a form of sugar that enters the bloodstream. With the help of insulin, cells throughout the body absorb glucose and use it for energy.

Insulin’s Role in Blood Glucose Control

When blood glucose levels rise after a meal, the pancreas releases insulin into the blood. Insulin and glucose then travel in the blood to cells throughout the body.

Insulin helps muscle, fat, and liver cells absorb glucose from the bloodstream, lowering blood glucose levels.
Insulin stimulates the liver and muscle tissue to store excess glucose. The stored form of glucose is called glycogen.
Insulin also lowers blood glucose levels by reducing glucose production in the liver.
In a healthy person, these functions allow blood glucose and insulin levels to remain in the normal range.

What happens with insulin resistance?

In insulin resistance, muscle, fat, and liver cells do not respond properly to insulin and thus cannot easily absorb glucose from the bloodstream. As a result, the body needs higher levels of insulin to help glucose enter cells.

The beta cells in the pancreas try to keep up with this increased demand for insulin by producing more. As long as the beta cells are able to produce enough insulin to overcome the insulin resistance, blood glucose levels stay in the healthy range.

Over time, insulin resistance can lead to type 2 diabetes and prediabetes because the beta cells fail to keep up with the body’s increased need for insulin. Without enough insulin, excess glucose builds up in the bloodstream, leading to diabetes, prediabetes, and other serious health disorders.
– via National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Increase Insulin Sensitivity Through Lifestyle

First of all, always listen and follow the advice of your doctor. If they tell you that medication is a necessity for you at this point, there is a reason for that advice and it should be taken seriously.

But, if you believe you are becoming insulin resistant and want to take action on your own, or if you doctor has said that lifestyle changes are the most important step right now, then it’s time to take some action!

No matter what prescriptions you might have, a healthier lifestyle will only help get you to a better place. Consider giving these ideas a try.

Even small amounts of weight loss can reduce insulin resistance, so most of Dr. Weil’s recommendations are aimed at reducing weight if you are overweight. The following are some insulin resistance diet tips:

Dietary changes:

  • Watch your carbohydrate intake. The classic low-fat, high-carb diet that was the standard recommendation for preventing or treating heart disease for years can actually worsen insulin resistance. Instead, opt for a moderately low carbohydrate diet (40 to 45 percent of calories) and focus on low glycemic index sources of carbohydrate (those that raise blood sugar levels slowly). In general, choose low carbohydrate foods that are high in fiber.
  • Emphasize moderate amounts of monounsaturated fat (30 to 35 percent of calories) from sources such as extra virgin olive oil, nuts and avocado rather than following a strict low-fat diet.
  • Eat generous amounts of non-starchy vegetables: This means five or more servings daily. Choose a variety of vegetables that covers a full spectrum of colors. In addition, eat one to two servings of low-glycemic index fruit every day, such as cherries, grapefruit, apricots and apples.
  • Eat fish frequently. Choose cold-water fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as wild Alaskan salmon and sardines. Omega-3s can help ameliorate the pro-inflammatory effects of insulin and also seem to improve cells’ response to the hormone.
  • Eat small, frequent meals. This can help keep blood sugar levels stable throughout the day, helping to avoid spikes in insulin.

Exercise:

  • Vigorous aerobic exercise decreases the cells’ resistance to insulin. Start any new exercise routine slowly, and aim for 30-45 minutes daily.

Mind/Body:

  • Although not studied specifically in insulin resistance, mind body therapies such as guided imagery and hypnosis can help address self image, stress and anxiety that may contribute to overeating, as well as relationships with food and binging.

Supplements:

  • Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). A powerful antioxidant, CoQ10 contributes to heart health by preventing the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, and by re-energizing the mitochondria in the heart cells, which is where energy metabolism occurs. Dosage: 90-120 mg per day; for best absorption, take with a meal containing fat.
  • Alpha-lipoic acid. This antioxidant nutrient improves the cells’ response to insulin and can help stabilize blood sugar levels. Dosage: 100 to 400 mg per day.
  • Magnesium. Higher insulin and blood sugar levels are often observed in people with low plasma magnesium levels. Magnesium supplementation has been shown to improve insulin resistance in animal studies. Dosage: 100 mg – 400 mg per day, use half the amount of magnesium as you take of calcium. Look for magnesium citrate, chelate, or glycinate. Avoid magnesium oxide.
  • Chromium. This mineral helps stabilize blood sugar, may improve serum lipid profiles, and may help the body utilize glucose and burn fat. The best form to use is GTF chromium. Dosage: 1,000 mcg per day.

– via DrWeil.com

Have you ever read about insulin resistance? Are you ready to increase insulin sensitivity and make a positive change for you life starting today?