When insulin can no longer do its job
Today I'm going to talk about what happens when insulin can no longer do its job and we become what is known as insulin resistant. (If you didn't read my earlier blog about insulin, called But I don't take insulin and you're curious about insulin, give it a read here.)
But in true Tisha fashion, here's a quick chuckle before we dig into how insulin resistance is the root cause of why we are getting heavier and sicker.
Did you know?
You could be insulin resistant for years and not know it?In fact, one in three Americans, including half of those age 60 and older  are insulin resistant.
When the cells in your muscles, body fat, and liver start ignoring the signals that insulin is sending out to pull glucose out of your bloodstream and put it into your cells, you are becoming insulin resistant. As you become more insulin resistant, your body produces more and more insulin. Remember, a high amount of glucose in your blood is toxic and your body wants it out of your blood! This excess glucose in your blood continues to trigger your pancreas to produce more and more insulin. However as you become more insulin resistant, your cells continue to ignore insulin's demands and your blood sugar levels begin to rise. Now you are at risk for developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, pre-diabetes, Type 2 diabetes, liver damage, and heart disease. Why is this important to know? Because simply testing your glucose levels does NOT alert you to how much insulin your body is producing in order to keep your glucose levels under control. We know that hyperinsulinemia (overproduction of insulin) can take place for up to a decade before it is detected.
Insulin resistance unfortunately doesn't just lead to diabetes. After years of insulin resistance, your cells have been so severely damaged by high blood sugar you are now at high risk for cardiovascular disease. Insulin resistance doubles your risk for heart attack and stroke and triples the odds that your heart attack or 'brain attack' will be deadly, according to the International Diabetes Federation . You are also at an increased risk for developing cancers of the bladder, breast, colon, cervix, pancreas, prostate, and uterus [3, 4].
How do you know if you have insulin resistance?
SIGNS OF INSULIN RESISTANCE:
- Triglycerides >150
- HDL <50 for women and <40 for men
- Blood pressure >130/80 mmHg
- Blood sugar levels = 100-125 mg/dl (prediabetes) or >125 (diabetes)
- HbA1C >6.5%
- Dark skin patches on the back of your neck, elbows, knees, knuckles or armpits
- Skin tags
Bottom line: When our body is overproducing insulin and our cells stop responding to the insulin, we become insulin resistant. The glucose is no longer being removed from our bloodstream causing our blood sugar levels to go up. The sugar left in our blood then starts to destroy the cells all over our bodies, leading to a long list of chronic diseases including those pictured below:
Photo Credit: Nutrition Network
Chances are if you are suffering from one or more of these disorders, you are insulin resistant. So is there anything that can be done? YES! Restoring your metabolic health is the only proven method to reverse insulin resistance, and that my friends is exactly what I help my clients do.Have specific questions you'd like answered? Comment below or shoot me a message. You never know your question may be highlighted in the coming weeks.
- Aguilar M . Prevalence of the Metabolic Syndrome in the United States, 2003-2012. JAMA, 2015; 313 (19): 1973 http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2293286
- International Diabetes Federation: Metabolic syndrome—driving the CVD epidemic. https://www.idf.org/webdata/docs/Diabetes_meta_syndrome.pdf
- Orgel: The Links Between Insulin Resistance, Diabetes, and Cancer. Curr Diab Rep. 2013 Apr; 13(2): 213–222. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3595327/
- Dijiogue S: Insulin resistance and cancer: the role of insulin and IGFs. Endocr Relat Cancer February 1, 2013 20 R1-R17. http://erc.endocrinology-journals.org/content/20/1/R1.full