If you have a difficulty losing weight, suffer fatigue and irritability 1 to 2 hours after eating a high carbohydrate meal, a family history of diabetes, or a personal history of elevated sugar during pregnancy, you may have insulin resistance.
What is Insulin?
Insulin is a hormone that is made by the pancreas and helps the body use glucose for energy.
What is Insulin Resistance?
Insulin resistance is a condition in which a person’s cells have a lowered response to insulin. In an attempt to keep blood sugars low (prevent diabetes), the pancreas produces and releases more and more insulin. Insulin is our fat storage hormone. Excess circulating levels of insulin make us feel tired, irritable, and crave more sugar. Over time, our pancreas can no longer keep up with the demand for insulin production and levels fall. Unfortunately, without the excess insulin, glucose in our bloodstream rises. It is at this point your doctor will inform you are pre-diabetic, or in some cases have diabetes.
What Causes Insulin Resistance?
- Being overweight (most common)
- Lack of physical activity
- Genetic predisposition
- Steroid use (for example, prednisone)
- Infection or severe illness
- Stress/adrenal dysfunction
- Dysbiosis (abnormal intestinal flora, lack of good bacteria in the gut)
- Food allergies
- Hormone imbalances
Who is most at Risk?
- Are overweight or have a BMI >25
- Have a waist circumference >35″ in a woman, >40” in a male
- Are over 40 years of age
- Are Latino, African American, Native American, or Asian American
- Have close relatives with type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease
- Had a history gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy)
- Have high blood pressure, elevated triglycerides, and low HDL
- Have PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome)
- Have acanthosis nigricans (a skin condition characterized by areas of dark skin/hyperpigmentation commonly in the armpits, groin, or back of the neck)
How is Insulin Resistance Diagnosed?
A fasting glucose and insulin test can be helpful, but the most accurate method to diagnose insulin resistance is through a “glucose tolerance test.” Instead of the awful orange sugar you had to drink during pregnancy, we prefer to test with real food. This test will allow us to measure your fasting glucose and insulin levels, as well as levels 2 hours after a carbohydrate rich meal.
What are Symptoms of Insulin Resistance?
Unfortunately, there aren’t any specific symptoms associated with insulin resistance. A person may notice weight gain, difficulty losing weight, fatigue or headaches 2 hours after a carbohydrate-rich, and craving sugar.
Why is it Important to Screen for Insulin Resistance?
People who have insulin resistance are at an increased risk of developing pre-diabetes, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and cancer. Insulin resistance can also cause your adrenals to not work optimally and can cause weight gain.
Can Insulin Resistance be Reversed?
Absolutely! With the appropriate dietary changes, increasing physical activity, and specifically incorporating supplements designed to increase your cells’ sensitivity to insulin, you can reverse insulin resistance, prevent diabetes, stop sugar craving and lose weight!
How to Prepare for your Glucose Tolerance Test, also called the “bagel test”
You need to avoid food and beverages for at least eight hours prior to the test. You may continue to drink water during this time. Upon arrival to the lab you will have a fasting glucose and insulin level drawn. Following this, you will eat a plain bagel (no butter) and jelly (we also provide gluten-free options) then return to the lab two hours later. At this time, you will have another glucose and insulin level drawn.
Monday, Wednesday, Friday: 8 AM – 4:30 PM
Tuesday, Thursday: 8 AM – 5:00 PM
(no appointment needed)
What is the best diet to follow if I have Insulin Resistance?
The best diet is the one you are most likely to stick with, but in general the Healthy Lifestyle Program, Mediterranean, and Paleo diets are effective. Diet changes are hard to make and even harder to stick with. As a “one stop shop” our medical providers work closely with our Wellness Coaches to provide ongoing support and guidance as you set goals and make sustainable changes that improve your health and happiness.
If this sounds like something you would like to discuss more, we recommend you contact our office and schedule an office visit with one of our providers.