If you have been struggling with weight gain, fluctuating blood sugar levels, and intense cravings for carbs and sugar, you may be experiencing insulin resistance. This condition occurs when your body becomes less responsive to the hormone insulin, which is responsible for regulating blood sugar levels. Insulin resistance can lead to various health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer.
But how can you tell if you are experiencing insulin resistance? In this article, we will explore the top 5 symptoms of insulin resistance and provide you with practical tips on how to address them. From making dietary changes to incorporating more physical activity into your daily routine, we will show you how to take control of your health and overcome insulin resistance for good. So, let's dive in and discover the top 5 symptoms of insulin resistance!
Prediabetes can be eradicated, diabetes can be delayed or put in remission, pounds can come off, and metabolic health restored by assessing, confronting, and reversing insulin resistance.
What is Insulin Resistance?
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps regulate blood sugar levels. When you eat, your body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose, a type of sugar that is used for energy. Insulin helps transport glucose from your bloodstream into your cells, where it can be used for energy or stored for later use.
Insulin resistance occurs when the cells in the organs of your body (for example your muscles, fat, and liver) become less effective at removing glucose from your blood. The pancreas is the organ in your body that makes insulin. When blood glucose levels in the body rise from excessive sugar and carbohydrate intake, your muscles, fat, liver, etc. can’t absorb all the glucose in your blood. The pancreas makes and releases more insulin in an attempt to help the organs remove the excess glucose from the blood. This pancreatic response leads to higher insulin levels in your blood and is called insulin resistance. However, over time, the insulin receptors on the organs also become progressively less sensitive to the insulin being released, causing both the insulin level to rise further, and blood glucose to rise. The result is gradually increased blood glucose, then prediabetes, and eventually diabetes. High blood glucose levels then damage the inner lining of blood vessels, ultimately leading to such problems as heart disease, congestive health failure, kidney disease, blindness, peripheral vascular disease, dementia, and stroke. This feedback loop (the organs requiring more and more insulin, the pancreas trying to produce more and more insulin) is why diabetics require insulin injections. The pancreas’s ability to produce more “endogenous” insulin reaches a ceiling. Consequently “exogenous” insulin, (insulin shots) are required or else blood glucose will rise to life-threatening levels. Sometimes the pancreas becomes irreparably exhausted and “burns out” (becomes scarred down) from its long-term attempts to make lots of insulin. Then the pancreas contributes very little or even no inulin to the effort. A person in this position becomes 100% dependent on administered exogenous insulin.
The Importance of Insulin in the Body
Insulin plays a crucial role in maintaining your body's overall health. In addition to regulating blood sugar levels, insulin also helps your body store and use fat, protein, and other nutrients. Insulin also helps your body build and repair tissues and promotes the growth and development of muscles and bones.
Without insulin, your body would be unable to properly process and use the energy from the food you eat. This is why insulin resistance can lead to various health problems, including weight gain, fatigue, and chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.
Symptoms of Insulin Resistance
1. Weight Gain: Insulin resistance can make it difficult to lose weight and can lead to unwanted weight gain, particularly around the midsection. This is because insulin resistance can make it easier for your body to store fat, especially in the abdominal area.
2. Fluctuating Blood Sugar Levels: Insulin resistance can cause your blood sugar levels to fluctuate, leading to feelings of fatigue, dizziness, and irritability. You may also experience intense cravings for carbs and sugar, as your body is unable to properly regulate your blood sugar levels.
3. High Blood Pressure: Insulin resistance can lead to high blood pressure, which can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.
4. Hormonal Imbalances: Insulin resistance can lead to hormonal imbalances, particularly in women. This can cause irregular menstrual cycles and other reproductive health issues.
5. Skin Changes: Insulin resistance can cause changes in your skin, including dark patches on the neck, armpits, and groin area. This condition, known as acanthosis nigricans, is a sign of insulin resistance and can be an early warning sign of diabetes.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Insulin Resistance
Insulin resistance can be assessed with simple blood tests that are calculated together to determine your current level of insulin resistance. Most primary care physicians, however, are not familiar with how to perform this type of testing or calculation. Instead, they rely on the standard fasting blood glucose test which is usually taken once a year, as a measure of insulin resistance. The problem with using a typical fasting blood glucose level to determine prediabetes is that the accepted level of normal is 100mg/dl, which is also the cutoff level for prediabetes. You can be insulin resistant with a fasting blood glucose level of 85 mg/dl or even lower. This means that, unless you are already insulin resistant, you are not going to know until it is too late and you already have prediabetes. Due to a lack of understanding around testing, insulin resistance can be present for years prior to the time a fasting blood glucose test alerts you to the condition. This does not have to be the case, however. With the correct tests, insulin resistance can be detected up to 8 to 10 years before the onset of prediabetes. You can then use this information to reverse insulin resistance, prevent prediabetes, and eliminate the possibility of diabetes in most patients. If you are overweight or have prediabetes or diabetes in your family, even if your fasting blood glucose is in what is considered a “normal range,” you are at risk for the presence of insulin resistance and prediabetes, and eventually diabetes.
If I Have Insulin Resistance, What Can I Do About It?
Insulin resistance is reversed with:
● focused medical guidance ● dietary changes ● frequent monitoring of insulin resistance levels and other metabolic health parameters.
At times, medications may be helpful, but the first line of treatment is medical monitoring and management along with dietary changes. The use of a continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) can be of great help in monitoring progress.
This is because blood glucose levels reflect corresponding levels of insulin resistance. If a patient is making progress in lowering their average blood glucose levels, and reducing post-meal blood glucose spikes, they are also reducing insulin resistance. We have found that when you use a CGM that is combined with the opportunity to have a remote physician or nutritionist monitoring your blood glucose levels, it is tremendously helpful in achieving diet modification, which will in turn, reduce blood glucose and insulin levels. Insulin resistance can be present many years before prediabetes is diagnosed and early management of actual prediabetes is sometimes not addressed by patients or physicians. This is because many patients do not know they are prediabetic. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that up to 80% of prediabetics don’t know they are prediabetic. And currently in the US, one in three adults are prediabetic. That is 88 million people, and nearly 70 million do not know they are prediabetic. Knowing you have insulin resistance (or finding out you are prediabetic) early on presents a great opportunity to prevent progression to diabetes and eventual diabetic complications.
What Are The Real-Time And Future Benefits of Reversing Insulin Resistance?
I’ve mentioned that early recognition of insulin resistance and taking action to eliminate the condition can make a world of difference for a person in terms of getting healthy and preventing prediabetes, and ultimately, diabetes. And, of course, preventing diabetes means a much higher likelihood of avoiding heart disease, congestive heart failure, kidney disease, blindness, peripheral vascular disease, dementia, and stroke as a person ages.
Insulin resistance almost inevitably leads to prediabetes if not managed proactively. Up to 30 % of people with prediabetes develop diabetes within 5 years. That risk increases by 10% every year after the first five years. This means that around 80% of prediabetics, without intervention, will be full-blown diabetics within 10 years.
Remember, however, that progression from prediabetes to diabetes is not inevitable. If insulin resistance is reversed, prediabetes can be cured, and the risk of progression to diabetes is eliminated in a vast majority of patients.
But what does reversing insulin resistance do for patients in the short term? The benefits are multiple.
● Weight loss almost always occurs when insulin resistance is reduced. ● Your endogenous inulin levels fall ● the body begins to burn fat instead of blood glucose for fuel. ● Weight first comes off around the middle of the body – in the abdominal and hip areas.
When you take control of your insulin levels, you will often see significant weight loss. We have had patients in our practice lose up to 60 pounds in their first six months of treatment.
But weight loss is not the only benefit. When insulin resistance falls you will also see:
● A drop in your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. ● Hypertension is frequently reduced or eliminated. ● Patients can often come off their cholesterol and blood pressure medications. ● Diabetics can sometimes reduce or eliminate their need for diabetic medications, as
insulin resistance reduction can put diabetes in remission. (Note, however, that diabetes is not cured, it is put in remission for long periods of time, up to many years.) ● Prediabetes, on the other hand, can be permanently reversed. ● Finally, patients almost universally experience higher levels of energy within several weeks of dietary changes along with increased mental clarity as spikes and plunges in blood glucose (called reactive hypoglycemia) are eliminated.
How Do I Learn More About Insulin Resistance, If I Have It, And What To Do About It?
First, you can start with my book, The Continous Glucose Monitor Revolution, where I reveal how CGM devices can help reverse chronic disease, prevent future sickness, and lengthen lifespan . . . all by measuring and managing the right data.
Second, you can work with me, one-on-one to 1)determine your “real” glucose levels and 2) create a custom plan designed by me, a doctor who specializes in metabolic health, to take on any precursors for prediabetes to get you feeling healthy, energized, and excited about life.
Take control of your health. Contact Me Now to Schedule a Time to Talk.