How to live with insulin resistance
At its core, insulin resistance is an impairment that affects how your body manages all of the sugar it receives from your diet. The body can’t respond to the amount of insulin it is producing. Insulin is a hormone. Your pancreas creates insulin. It helps protect your body from getting too much sugar (glucose), which gives you energy. Excess sugar in your diet is harmful to your health.
If left undiagnosed and untreated, insulin resistance can lead to patients who develop type 2 diabetes.
Living with insulin resistance requires a drastic lifestyle change. Luckily, the damage can be reversed. Insulin resistance can be reversed. Most people will also need regular use of prescription medications like Metformin.
So what are the risk factors?
After eating that burger with extra cheese, large fries and a milkshake, the pancreas makes the hormone insulin, and the cells resist the flood of insulin, stores sugar as fat, and you feel tired and hungry all the time – that’s insulin resistance in a nutshell.
Also known as impaired insulin sensitivity, insulin resistance is usually rooted in a combination of ethnicity, a family history of diabetes, age, being overweight or obese and having a sedentary lifestyle, says Family Doctor.
Other risk factors include hormones, steroid use, certain medicines, not sleeping enough, smoking, drug and alcohol abuse,
Besides fat belly or a larger waist, other key indications are:
- Metabolic syndrome creates insulin resistance.
- Early indicators of metabolic syndrome are taking medication for high triglycerides, which are high levels of blood fats or low HDLs – low-density lipoprotein levels.
- High blood pressure – readings of 130 /85 mm or higher
- High blood sugar – readings of 100-125 mg/dl, which is the range between pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes
- Changes in skin colour – dark patches of skin on the back of your neck, elbows, knees, knuckles and armpits, says Endocrine. web.
- High fasting blood sugar levels.
Insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome pose serious health risks, including; heart disease, kidney disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; polycystic ovary syndrome; cancers of the bladder, breast, colon, cervix, pancreas, prostate and uterus.
Exercise is a crucial step to take, right at the start of making those necessary lifestyle changes.
According to the American Heart Association, regular exercise moves glucose/sugar to your muscles which uses it for fuel.
By building muscle that uses the glucose for fuel, reduces the cells dependency on insulin for energy. It may not get rid of insulin resistance entirely, but it helps with managing blood sugar levels.
They recommend that adults exercise at least 150 minutes a week.
This is how you clock the minutes:
- Start with small changes. Do 15 minutes of brisk walking after each meal – that’s 45 minutes a day of aerobic fat burning exercise. That 45 minutes a day adds up to 315 minutes a week.
- Do resistance exercises with kettlebells or resistance bands. The bands are for flexibility and strengthening muscles. The body can burn more glucose as fuel, instead of being stored as fat in the cells.
Studies also indicate that getting out in the sun:
- boosts your vitamin D levels
- improves immune function
Weight loss, as little as a 10 % loss, is the greatest help of all. Although doctors may prescribe medication, they all recommend diet, exercise and sleep as the key ingredients in delaying the onset of Type 2 diabetes.
There may not be a one-size-fits-all diet, but several options are available: the Mediterranean, vegetarian or vegan, low carb, low fat and super low carb as in a keto diet.
The first step to take is to cut out the highly processed high glycaemic index foods, which include: sugar-sweetened drinks, dried fruit, jam and fruit juice, sweets, cakes and biscuits, white potatoes, potato chips, white grains such as rice, pasta and white bread.
With that gone, choose whole foods that grew in a field or the sea and avoid if it was processed in the factory because it contains hidden fats, sugars, salts and all kinds of toxins.
The choices are:
- About half a plate of non-starchy vegetables such as spinach, green beans, beetroot, squash, broccoli and tomatoes, for instance
- Add half a cup serving of high-fibre foods, including whole grains such as bulgur, oatmeal, brown rice, legumes, corn, or beans.
- Add roughly 100 – 150 grams of baked, broiled or grilled lean protein as this helps lower blood sugar. These can be fish, poultry, low-fat cottage cheese,
- Munch on small amounts of fruit, primarily berries
High carbohydrate dairy foods like milk and yoghurt raise blood sugar levels, so it is advisable to cut out or limit dairy in your diet. So too, heart-healthy fats such as olive oil, nuts, and avocado, should be eaten in moderation or avoided altogether.
A doctor must confirm insulin resistance. Do not self diagnose or change your diet and sugar intake without professional assistance. Contact Affinity Health, and we will help you find the best plan to get you the best healthcare for you and your unique needs.