Insulin Resistance: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment and Diseases
Dr. Karishma Shaikh
Dr. Karishma ShaikhOctober 27, 2021

Insulin resistance and excessive insulin levels in your body can lead to many diseases. PCOS, Thyroid diseases, weight issues, and low metabolism are just considered hormonal disorders. But, these diseases are occurring also due to the change in your metabolism. When your metabolism gets disturbed, then it reflects on your whole system. And so, insulin resistance increases in your body. Then it acts as a root cause for many diseases to attack your body. Let's look at how insulin affects your body and causes a disease? Insulin Resistance/

What is Insulin Resistance? Why should you consider it?

First of all, Let’s understand what insulin is and How it is produced.

Insulin is a hormone secreted by the beta cells of the pancreas located behind the abdomen. The food that you eat, breaks down into sugar molecules in the mouth and then reaches the bloodstream. Now, the sugar molecules in the bloodstream increase the blood sugar level

Insulin takes up the role to supply the fat cells, muscle cells, and liver with the sugar molecules to use as energy for the whole body. Mostly, the extra glucose (blood sugar) is stored in the liver for later usage. This extra glucose is utilized by the body when you are fasting.

Suppose if your body cells have an adequate amount of glucose for energy, then they don’t respond to insulin to take up the further glucose. This situation of body cells resisting insulin is called insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome. As a result, to decrease the blood sugar level, your pancreas produces more insulin. And, when a situation arises, where your pancreas cannot secrete insulin at this level, your blood sugar level remains elevated for a long time.

Signs and Symptoms of Insulin Resistance:

Insulin resistance might develop in your body without showing any prominent signs during the initial stage. But, If you experience associated symptoms, then it is advised to get your tests done to confirm your blood sugar levels. Some of the symptoms of Insulin resistance include,

  • Excessive thirst or hunger
  • Frequent urination
  • Tiredness
  • High cholesterol level
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Constant cravings for sugar foods
  • Hair loss
  • Mood swings
  • Acanthosis nigricans, a skin condition developed in your body due to insulin resistance. This skin condition induces dark patches on your neck, armpits, and groin areas.

Your doctor will suggest you take the confirmatory test if you have one or two of the above symptoms.

Diseases associated with insulin resistance:

PCOS:

PCOS is often misinterpreted as a disease-related only to ovaries. But, PCOS is developed both because of metabolic and reproductive disorders. Insulin resistance and excessive secretion of insulin act as a root cause for developing PCOS in many people. Excessive insulin levels convert sugar cells into fat storage in the body and cause obesity. At the same time, it also increases the secretion of male hormones. Therefore, suppressing the hormones with hormonal pills is not a complete solution to PCOS. Treating PCOS by understanding the underlying root cause is crucial.

Thyroid disorder:

Similar to the PCOS condition, excessive insulin accumulated in your body induces fat storage, especially around the abdomen region. Chances of weight gain are high due to this situation. And, weight gain leads to the development of hypothyroidism in most women.

Type 2 diabetes

Normally, your blood glucose level rises to a certain level after eating. The pancreas will receive a signal to release insulin to manage the blood sugar levels in normal. And when your cells and organs don’t react to insulin to absorb the glucose for energy, your blood sugar levels remain increased constantly. This stage leads to the development of type 2 diabetes in your body.

Prediabetes

Prediabetes is a health condition that is also linked to insulin resistance. In this disease, blood sugar levels are higher than usual, but not that much higher as in the case of type 2 diabetes. Prediabetes leads to type 2 diabetes, heart diseases, and stroke in some people if ignored completely. Symptoms of prediabetes are similar to that of type 2 diabetes. Prevent type 2 diabetes by treating prediabetes proactively.

Kidney disorders

According to the research conducted by the American Journal of kidney diseases, it is found that people with renal disorders had insulin resistance at the earlier stage itself.

The kidney plays a prominent role in insulin metabolism. It removes waste from your body through urine. Furthermore, it regulates the production of red blood cells. Compared to other organs in your body, the kidney responds to insulin to take up the glucose in the bloodstream. But it resists insulin by not regulating the sodium level found in the blood. An imbalance in the sodium level increases the risk of high blood pressure.

This is how insulin resistance in the organ kidney causes hypertension and kidney diseases.

Causes of insulin resistance

There are several factors that contribute to developing insulin resistance in your body. It includes,

  • Obesity
  • Physical inactivity and sedentary lifestyle
  • Adults, insulin resistance are more common in people aged above 40
  • Steroids
  • Smoking and alcohol consumption
  • Intake of carbohydrates
  • Hormonal disorders
  • Genetics
  • Stress

Tests to confirm your insulin resistance

Your doctor would suggest taking the test to have a glance at your insulin levels, if you experience any of the above symptoms or if you have been diagnosed with PCOS or thyroid diseases.

Fasting glucose test

This test is done to check your fasting blood sugar level. It is done after 8 hours of eating or drinking (fasting for 8 hours). This test’s results conclude the following,

  • Below 100 mg/dL - normal level
  • 100-125 mg/dL - Prediabetes
  • Above 126 mg/dL - Diabetes

There is also a disadvantage to this test. It doesn't mean you're normal if your fasting glucose level is normal. Because fasting glucose levels increase only after a certain level of insulin resistance in your body. Insulin levels rise years before it gets evident in the blood sugar level.

Therefore, a normal level of fasting glucose doesn't confirm you are not insulin resultant. Insulin resistance and insulin levels may not be diagnosed perfectly by this test.

A1C Test

The A1C test shows the blood sugar levels that have been maintained on your body for the past three months. A1C test results state,

  • Below 5.7 % - normal
  • 5.7 - 6.4 % - Prediabetes
  • Above 6.4 % - Diabetes

Increased HBA1C levels show that you have high insulin levels. Similar to the fasting glucose test, the normal HBA1C level doesn't conclude effectively about insulin resistance and insulin levels.

GTIR

Glucose tolerance insulin response (GTIR) detects insulin resistance and Prediabetes at an early stage. In the GTIR test, your fasting glucose level will be noted first and your blood sample will be collected every 30 minutes.

Let's have a look at how the test is performed: When the patient arrives at the lab after overnight fasting (12 hours of fasting) fasting blood sample is collected. Then the patient will be given a glucose liquid dissolved in the water to consume. Glucose consumption time is noted, and after 30 minutes, blood sample is collected. Again after 30 minutes, third blood sample is collected. At last, after 1 hour, fourth blood sample is collected. Total number of four samples is collected.

For instance, if you reach your lab by 7.45 AM, fasting glucose levels will be noted. You will be given an oral liquid at 8.00 AM. Then the following are the timings of the next samples.

  • Second sample - 8.30 AM
  • Third sample - 9.00 AM
  • Fourth sample - 10.00 AM

Considering all the readings, you will be provided with your insulin levels. Jeevam health functional medicine doctors recommend GTIR test to diagnose insulin resistance and insulin levels as these are the most accurate and reliable forms of testing.

Reversal of insulin resistance

Reversal of insulin resistance requires a constant effort from a patient’s side and the right guidance from expert doctors. To reverse insulin resistance, it is essential to increase the sensitivity of your body cells to insulin. The following lifestyle changes will help you to deal with insulin resistance.

Diet

Foods rich in carbohydrates are converted into sugar molecules. This increases the amount of work that needs to be done by insulin. And so, try to consume soluble fiber foods that will reduce the pressure put on your overall metabolism and insulin. Avoid refined sugars and packed sugar products. Furthermore, add fresh vegetables and fruits to your diet. Natural sugars in fruits and vegetables will not affect your blood sugar levels.

Exercise

Exercise and physical activity are as important as our diet. Especially, when our body is undergoing an internal storm to tackle the diseases. In the case of insulin resistance, exercise increases the sensitivity of your cells towards insulin. It aids your body in absorbing glucose into the cells. People who exercise regularly have their insulin sensitivity maintained on the correct level. Losing weight, especially belly fat (fat storage in the abdomen) is suggested in reversing insulin resistance.

Reduce stress

Stress plays a major role in increasing insulin resistance. It also causes inflammation and weight gain in your body. Relax your mind and concentrate on an 8 hours sleep. Check whether your sleep pattern and timings are on track. This way you can induce insulin sensitivity naturally.

Supplements

Supplements are advised according to your body and the severity of the condition. We, Jeevam health doctors, recommend supplements such as chromium, magnesium, and berberine considering the patient’s detailed history. These supplements enhance insulin metabolism. Also, remember supplements alone cannot reverse insulin resistance. Supplements are prescribed to induce the function of insulin.

Jeevam Health and Functional Medicine

A single medicine or tablet cannot be a solution for all people. Moreover, a disease must be treated according to a person's body type, emotional balance, and family history.

Insulin resistance is found to be the major root cause of many chronic diseases. At Jeevam health, functional medicine doctors suggest a GTIR test to analyze the root cause of the diseases such as PCOS, Hypothyroidism, and Prediabetes. If insulin resistance has been diagnosed as the root cause, treatment and medications will be prescribed accordingly. Treatment and supplements will be modified corresponding to the response of your body.

Suppressing the symptoms just for a time being can affect your health even badly. Treat your disease by addressing the root cause.

We’re here to help. Please get in touch with us and we can help address your concerns and assist you in your journey to better health. Book a call with Jeevam Health Team NOW!

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