While you may have heard the term “insulin resistance,” you may not be fully aware of what it is or what it causes. In fact, insulin resistance can be a root cause underlying metabolic syndrome and virtually every chronic disease.
Studies show that 88% of Americans are in poor metabolic health, and six out of ten have a chronic disease. We struggle with so many issues: high blood pressure, weight gain, fatty liver, dementia, low sex drive, menstrual issues, infertility — not to mention heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and more.
Insulin resistance can be a key contributor to all these issues and many more. It’s a complex condition and vital to understand if you want to live a full, vibrant, healthy life for years to come.
We Can Help You Find Out if You Have Insulin Resistance.
Contact our New Patient Coordinator to Learn More: 972-960-4800
What is Insulin Resistance?
Insulin is a vital hormone that’s essential for regulating your blood sugar levels. And insulin resistance is when your cells no longer respond normally to insulin.
Here’s how a healthy body responds to insulin:
- You eat food, and your body breaks it down into glucose (sugar), your main source of energy.
- Once glucose enters your bloodstream, it signals your pancreas to release insulin.
- Insulin helps the glucose in your blood (blood sugar) enter your muscle, fat, and liver cells to be used for energy or stored for later use.
- When the blood sugar enters your cells, the levels in your bloodstream decrease, which signals your pancreas to stop producing insulin.
However, for several reasons, your cells may not respond normally to insulin. When this happens, the pancreas produces more insulin to get that blood sugar into your cells. Over time, the cells stop responding to all that insulin — they’re insulin resistant. So, the pancreas continues to push out more insulin, trying to make the cells respond.
If your pancreas can keep producing enough insulin to overcome the weak response from your cells, your blood sugar levels will remain in a healthy range. However, if your cells become too resistant to insulin, your blood sugar and insulin levels will rise. And this, over time, leads not only to weight gain but also prediabetes — which puts you at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
According to the CDC, more than one in three American adults have prediabetes, yet 80% don’t know that they have it. That’s because insulin resistance doesn’t normally present with symptoms until diabetes develops.
In addition to type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance can lead to many disorders, including:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
- Metabolic syndrome
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Kidney disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
Causes of Insulin Resistance
While many things can contribute to insulin resistance, one of the major causes is increased triglycerides (fatty acids, a form of cholesterol) in the bloodstream. While genetics may cause elevated triglycerides and other types of cholesterol, the primary cause is the foods you eat.
Belly fat also releases higher levels of triglycerides into the bloodstream, which increases the production of inflammatory hormones and causes insulin resistance. Specifically, stress has been linked to increased fat around the abdominal area, as chronic stress can increase cortisol levels, and cortisol can cue your body to store fat as a survival mechanism.
With abdominal fat, it’s a vicious cycle: higher insulin levels signal the body to store fat around the abdominal area, and an increase in abdominal fat can lead to insulin resistance.
Other causes of Insulin Resistance include:
- Eating a diet high in sugar and processed foods
- Physical Inactivity
- Imbalances in the gut microbiome
- Poor sleep habits
- Sleep apnea
It’s important to note that you can be a “normal” weight, i.e., not overweight or obese, and still have insulin resistance. The key is the amount of abdominal fat you’re carrying. A waist measurement of 40 inches or more for men and 35 inches or more for women is linked to insulin resistance.
Signs of Insulin Resistance
It can be impossible to know if you have insulin resistance since symptoms don’t show up in the early stages. However, here are a few signs you can look for:
- A low HDL (“good” cholesterol) level or high triglyceride level
- Eating a diet high in sugar and processed foods
- Having a parent or sibling with diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Living a sedentary lifestyle/lack of exercise
- High inflammation levels
- Sleep issues such as insomnia or sleep apnea
- Excess fat around the abdominal area
- Cardiovascular disease
- Metabolic syndrome (a combination of hypertension, elevated glucose levels, abnormal cholesterol/high triglycerides, and excess belly fat)
- Skin tags or acanthosis nigricans
- Other metabolic disorders
How to Prevent or Treat Insulin Resistance
Fortunately, insulin resistance is reversible. And while there is no magic pill, specific diet and lifestyle changes can turn things around. Here are just a few ways you can prevent or treat insulin resistance:
- Lose weight. According to the CDC, if a person who is overweight or obese loses 5–7% of their body weight, this can significantly reduce their risk of developing diabetes. To help you, we offer semaglutide, which has been shown to lower blood sugar and result in significant weight loss.
- Change your diet. Eat healthy, whole foods, including plenty of vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, and lean protein. This also includes healthy fats like Omega-3s (found in fatty fish and olive oil).
- Exercise. Regular physical activity (5 days a week at moderate intensity) helps improve muscle insulin sensitivity and increases glucose energy usage.
- Avoid processed foods, sugar, and alcohol.
- Get better sleep. High-quality sleep helps your body repair, regenerate, and restore itself.
- Manage your stress. Do things that you enjoy, such as spending time with friends and family, taking up a hobby, meditating, or anything to help ease your body, mind, and spirit.
Testing for Insulin Resistance
When it comes to insulin resistance, the earlier you find out about it, the easier it will be to treat it and reverse it. And since symptoms don’t show up right away, discovering your level of insulin resistance can help you take immediate steps to avoid metabolic syndrome, prediabetes, and more.
At the offices of Leigh Ann Scott, MD, we offer comprehensive serum lab testing to screen for insulin resistance using the Cardio IQ® Insulin Resistance Panel with Score. And this test is only one aspect of our whole body, the functional medicine approach.
Our providers will take time to meet with you and establish a meaningful dialogue regarding your history, symptoms, current state of health, and any concerns. This, combined with comprehensive lab testing, will provide you with the answers you need. We will explain your results in detail and provide a treatment protocol as needed so that you can start healing and feeling better.
It Begins with a Free Phone Consultation
Our providers at Leigh Ann Scott, M.D., are devoted to understanding your health concerns and symptoms. We use scientific-based protocols to find the root cause of hormonal imbalances, thyroid dysfunction, nutritional deficiencies, and more.
We believe that spending quality, personalized time with each patient provides the foundation to help you achieve optimal health and wellness. Our system incorporates provider consultation, comprehensive health assessment, and laboratory testing in a warm and caring environment.
To learn more about how we can help you, contact our New Patient Coordinator for a free phone consultation. She can explain our protocols and fees in more detail, answer any questions or concerns you have, and explain how our approach can help you get to the root of your symptoms. We want you to enjoy a vibrant and healthy life!
For More Information, call our New Patient Coordinator at 972-960-4800
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What medications are used to treat insulin resistance?
While there are currently no medications that treat insulin resistance specifically, your healthcare provider may prescribe medications to treat coexisting conditions. Some examples include:
- Blood pressure medication.
- Metformin for diabetes.
- Statins to lower LDL cholesterol.
come up with an individualized treatment plan that works best for you.