insulin resistant

What Is Insulin Resistance? Noticeable Causes & Symptom

insulin resistant

What is Insulin?

A hormone churned out by the pancreas that helps glucose in your blood circulate to every body cell, where it is used as energy. When you take in food, glucose is readily made available; the liver makes this glucose accessible during fasting.

When blood glucose rises, the pancreas releases insulin which helps to keep the blood glucose within a healthy range.

What is Insulin Resistance?

It occurs when the body cells such as muscle, body fat, and the liver start ignoring the signal produced by insulin, causing these cells not to be able to use glucose from the blood for energy. To add up to this, your pancreas produces more insulin over time, making the blood sugar level go up.

If the pancreas can initiate enough insulin to overcome the low absorption rate, diabetes is less likely to evolve, and the blood glucose stays within a healthy range. Insulin is crucial and follows through these processes in the cause of glucose usage;

  • Food ingested is broken down to blood glucose. 
  • This blood glucose enters the bloodstream, causing insulin production by the pancreas.
  • The blood glucose enters all of the body cells with the help of Insulin and makes energy readily available.
  • The signal to make room (store) more blood glucose by the liver is carried out by the Insulin for later use.
  • As the blood glucose enters the body cells, it gradually decreases due to exertion by the physical body and, as such, causes the insulin also to fall.
  • Lower levels of Insulin notifies the liver of the need to constantly make available the relevant glucose needed by the body with the help of the hormone glucagon even if you haven’t eaten in a while.

As straightforward these whole processes look, a little distortion and abnormality results in the following;

  • Much glucose enters the bloodstream.
  • The pancreas makes more insulin available to get blood glucose into the body cells.
  • As this process continues, the body cells stop responding to Insulin making them Insulin resistant. 
  • The pancreas initiates more and more insulin to keep up with the flow and make the body cells respond.
  • Finally, the pancreas becomes stressed and can’t keep up, making the blood glucose continue to rise.

Insulin Resistance and Diabetes

As we have seen, insulin regulates the amount of glucose circulating in the bloodstream inducing the cells to absorb glucose after food intake. Insulin helps maintain a good energy balance, not allowing the glucose to spike for an extended period. Anyone can develop Insulin resistance either chronically or acutely; however, this can lead to prediabetes and then type 2 diabetes over time if not correctly handled. Prediabetes occurs when your blood glucose levels are higher than expected but is not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. This usually occurs in persons who already have some Insulin resistance and can lead to other types of diabetes. As Insulin resistance develops, the body continually fights back by producing more Insulin resulting in the beta cells getting worn out, which causes a spike in the glucose levels as the beta cells are compromised.

Symptoms of Insulin Resistance

  • The blood pressure is increased (Hypertension).
  • Arteries hardening results in atherosclerosis.
  • High level of triacylglycerol.

The set-off of insulin resistance typically increases insulin production; a condition referred to as hyperinsulinemia, so the body can keep up with maintaining glucose levels. As more insulin is present, it results in weight gain, making insulin resistance worse.

What is Metabolic Syndrome

Insulin resistance is also the main attribute of metabolic syndrome, linked to excess fat around the waist region and increased cardiovascular diseases, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes.

Metabolic Syndrome Criteria

The features of this metabolic syndrome include the following;

  • Low levels of High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
  • The blood glucose is increased.
  • Increased levels of Triacylglycerol (TAG).
  • Blood pressure increases.

All of these features of the metabolic syndrome do not need to be present in you; the presence of one may point to Insulin resistance.

What is Insulin Resistance?

Over time insulin resistance gets worse as the beta cells of the pancreas wear out, eventually leading to the pancreas not being able to overcome the resistance resulting in elevated glucose levels in the blood (hyperglycemia). The symptoms of this condition include;

  • Increased hunger.
  • Headaches.
  • Slow-healing cuts and sores. 
  • Increased thirst.
  • Frequent urination.
  • Vision becomes blurred.
  • Skin and vaginal infections.

Prediabetes Symptoms

In some cases, Insulin resistance leads to prediabetes, and the symptoms experienced include;

  • Small skin growth.
  • Diabetic retinopathy.
  • Armpit with darkened skin or back and sides of the neck.

What Is The Main Cause Of Insulin Resistance?

What causes insulin resistance? it has been discovered that specific genes promote the possibility for a person to develop or not develop insulin resistance; however, it is pretty tricky as you get older as the tendency of developing insulin resistance increases.

what causes insulin resistance

Several factors contribute to developing this resistance, and they are;

  • Excess body fats (Obesity), especially around your belly and around your organs (visceral fats). A waist estimation of 40 inches or more for males and 35 inches or more for women makes them prone to insulin resistance. Belly fat produces hormones that contribute to long-term inflammation in your body.
  • Physical inactivity and sedentary lifestyles make the body insulin resistant.
  • A diet of highly processed, high – carbohydrates and saturated fats contributes to Insulin resistance.
  • Certain medications such as steroids, blood pressure drugs, HIV treatments, and some psychiatric medications can also cause Insulin resistance.
  • Hormonal disorders such as Cushing’s syndrome (a condition where the stress hormone Cortisol is excess), Acromegaly (a situation where there is a high level of growth hormone, which increases the production of glucose), and Hypothyroidism(a condition where your thyroid hormone is underactive and isn’t enough).
  • Genetic conditions. 
  • Werner syndrome. 
  • Myotonic dystrophy.
  • Inherited lipodystrophy.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome.

Insulin Resistance Test

The most valid test for insulin resistance is pretty complicated, and as such, the Doctor considers several factors when assessing the possibility of developing Insulin resistance. They include;

  • Family history. 
  • Medical history.
  • Physical history.
  • Signs and symptoms.
  • Test results include glucose tolerance test, glycated haemoglobin (A1c), and Lipid panel.

How to reverse Insulin resistance

The moment there is the possibility of becoming insulin resistant, you want the opposite, which is making your body sensitive to the presence of Insulin (body cells become effective at absorbing blood glucose, so less amount of Insulin is needed). Generally, physical activity is expected as it makes you more sensitive to insulin, so you need to take action early and start exercising. Also, weight loss should be considered and avoiding high blood glucose and reducing stress. Good enough sleep also keep the body cell balanced to face these challenges. You can talk with your doctor about getting started as these lifestyle changes work to combat insulin resistance.   

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