Understanding Insulin Resistance
If a person’s body is no longer able to make use of the insulin produced by the pancreas, then the person is deemed to be insulin resistant. Due to this resistance, the pancreas has to increase its production of insulin to have the body function well. This, of course, will strain your pancreas and brings you greater risk for diabetes.
Causes of Insulin Resistance ?
The causes of insulin resistance are plentiful. There is a strong belief that it can be inherited, passed from one generation to the next through the genes. Insulin resistance is often discovered in times of :
- During pregnancy.(see Gestational Diabetes)
- During steroid use.
- Infection or severe illness strikes.
- In obesity.
- Metabolic syndrome.
How are Insulin Resistance and Diabetes related?
The type of diabetes that happens later in life, among adults, is type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes only develops many years after the insulin resistance has occurred. With those people who eventually suffer from type 2 diabetes, their blood sugar levels and amount of insulin could have been normal until something triggered the insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance could have been triggered by too insulin production, obesity with fat around the stomach, high cholesterol and hypertension. Such a combination of health problems is called the metabolic syndrome.
A function of insulin is to get the body cells, especially muscle cells and fat cells, to take in glucose from the bloodstream and convert it into energy. By helping the cells to remove glucose from the bloodstream, insulin controls the blood glucose level. To assist the absorption of glucose into the cells, insulin attaches itself to receptors on the cells. So, insulin calls on cells to open up to admit the glucose. But when there is resistance to insulin, the cells resist to the call to open their doors for the glucose to go through. When the pancreas realizes this, more insulin is produced and sent out to help glucose gain entry into the cells.
Although the cells’ resistance towards insulin continues to become greater with time, blood sugar levels stay healthy if the pancreas can still produce sufficient insulin to counter this resistance. However, it is merely a matter of time before the stressed pancreas becomes unable to produce more and the blood sugar levels start to go up. At the beginning such increase in sugar levels are only observed after consuming food when the level of sugar in the bloodstream is bound to rise. Later, a stage is reached where blood sugar levels are still high although there is no food taken. This is the stage where your doctor confirms you have type 2 diabetes.
Insulin Resistance – Video Guide
What’s New in Insulin Resistance?
Until recently, researchers have not given much attention to the problem of insulin resistance. They have not thought of it as a contributing factor to the metabolic syndrome. Fortunately, recent studies have shown that the eventual diabetic stage can be delayed although many more researches have to be carried out to know the length of treatment required to ensure type 2 diabetes does not reach the stage where complications occur.
To slow down the development of diabetes in type 2 diabetics, there is a need for changes in lifestyle. The amount and type of food as well as exercise are important factors to consider. Education is the tool to affect such lifestyle changes in those at risk, such as children who are obese. Parents and schools need to understand the right choice of food available to the children. Healthier choices at home and at school can make the difference.
Researchers need to determine if diet and exercise are sufficient to the prevention of complications in type 2 diabetes. Is medication needed to help achieve the prevention of complications? (see Diabetes Complications)
An Overview on Insulin Resistance:
- Insulin resistance occurs when our body cells are resistant to insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas.
- Insulin resistance can be a factor in the metabolic syndrome. It can lead to heart disease.
- Insulin resistance lead to type 2 diabetes.
- Insulin resistance is connected to other health problems such as fatty liver, acanthosis nigricans , arteriosclerosis, skin tags and abnormalities in women’s reproduction system.
- Those people with the above mentioned health problems are at risk of insulin resistance. People more susceptible to insulin resistance are the non-whites and those who are overweight.
- Although there is possible genetic inheritance, the right diet, exercise and medication can control insulin resistance.