Are you Insulin Resistant?

What is insulin resistance?

Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps the body use glucose for energy. Glucose is a form of sugar that is the body’s main source of energy.

Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body produces insulin but does not use it properly.  Excess glucose floating around the blood stream is unable to be taken in by the cells for use. You are left with elevated blood glucose levels, which over time can lead to diabetes.

The body’s digestive system breaks food down into glucose, which then travels in the bloodstream to cells throughout the body. Glucose in the blood is called blood glucose, also known as blood sugar. As the blood glucose level rises after a meal, the pancreas releases insulin to help cells take in and use the glucose.

When people are insulin resistant, their muscle, fat, and liver cells do not respond properly to insulin. As a result, their bodies need more insulin to help glucose enter cells. The pancreas tries to keep up with this increased demand for insulin by producing more. Eventually, the pancreas fails to keep up with the body’s need for insulin. Excess glucose builds up in the bloodstream, setting the stage for diabetes. Many people with insulin resistance have high levels of both glucose and insulin circulating in their blood at the same time.

Insulin resistance increases the chance of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Learning about insulin resistance is the first step toward making lifestyle changes that can help prevent diabetes and other health problems.

What causes insulin resistance?

Scientists have identified specific genes that make people more likely to develop insulin resistance and diabetes. Excess weight and lack of physical activity also contribute to insulin resistance.

Many people with insulin resistance and high blood glucose have other conditions that increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and damage to the heart and blood vessels, also called cardiovascular disease. These conditions include having excess weight around the waist, high blood pressure, and abnormal levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. Having several of these problems is called metabolic syndrome or insulin resistance syndrome.

Are You at Risk?

At least once a year you should get a physical exam, complete with fasting blood work. Here are the numbers you should be concerned about:

  • Waist circumference: <35 in.
  • Blood Pressure: <120/80
  • Total Cholesterol: <200
  • LDL: <100
  • HDL: >50
  • Triglycerides: <150
  • Fasting Blood Glucose: <100
  • Hemoglobin A1c: 4-6%
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D: >40

There are other blood tests that your doctor can order, such as hs-crp, fasting insulin, apo-lipoprotein, among others, that can give an even more precise picture of your cardiovascular risk.

What can you do to reverse this situation?

  1. Physical activity– Do at least 30 minutes of cardio and weight training, at least 5 days a week. You should work at a moderate to high intensity, which will help you burn more calories and decrease your blood sugar level. Weight training is key to improving your insulin sensitivity.
  2. Weight loss help the body respond better to insulin. By losing weight and being more physically active, people with insulin resistance or pre-diabetes may avoid developing type 2 diabetes. Losing just 5 to 7 percent of body weight prevents or delays diabetes by nearly 60 percent.
  3. Choose foods with a low Glycemic load: natural, unrefined, unprocessed foods – no white flour, white sugar, junk foods, fried foods, fast food. As we constantly preach here at U Rock Girl, eat lots of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, lean protein, healthy fats, green tea, and plenty of water.

What about Supplements?

There are a number of vitamins, minerals, and herbs that have been shown to have blood glucose lowering properties or to improve insulin sensitivity. A product that I like that is a comprehensive combination of these is Jarrow Formulas Glucose Optimizer. Its blend of B vitamins, Magnesium, Chromium, Green Tea Extract, Resveratrol, Alpha Lipoic Acid, and many other ingredients which act to strengthen the cardiovascular system and enhance blood sugar control. Of course, always talk to your doctor before starting any supplements to make sure that it won’t interfere with any other medications you might be taking.

If you want to hear more about Insulin Resistance and Blood Sugar Control, you can listen to my recent appearance on a radio show discussing these, as well as obesity. Go to or cut and paste the following address into your browser:

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