Understanding Insulin Resistance: Part 1

Hi friends, happy Friday!

How are you all? Hope all safe and healthy. If unwell right now, I wish you speedy recovery.

For me also, its kind of back to March of last year. The last couple of months have been a little relaxed…though masks, sanitizers, social distancing etc were still very much in place. Somehow, the situation has worsened again. My residential compound is sealed and it’s lockdown here in Mumbai anyways. That means no helps, no workouts and back to being a one-woman-army! Client work, cooking, cleaning, laundry on top of managing online schooling/studies for both the girls, it is kind of hard. I almost didn’t get time for today’s blog! I guess it’s true after all that if one really wants to do something, one will find time. Am glad I could 🙂

Today, I want to discuss Insulin resistance with you. It is a lengthy topic so I’ll break it down into two parts, part 1 being today’s post.

First Of All, What Is Insulin?

Insulin is a very important hormone made in our body, by our pancreatic beta cells. This hormone is responsible for converting the glucose that we ingest (through food), into energy.

After we are done eating, the carbohydrates in foods are broken down into glucose which the body absorbs via our intestinal walls into our blood. Then the pancreas releases the hormone Insulin which enables our body-cells to use this glucose for energy.

In short, our blood sugar levels stay balanced due to Insulin. When we have too much glucose, Insulin also tells our liver to store it so that it can be used later in hours of need such as between the meals, stressful situations, fasting and energy for physical exertion/activities.

Now, Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance happens when Insulin is produced alright…but our cells, even liver, don’t respond well to it. As a result, our bodies can’t use glucose in our blood, for energy which ideally happens. Our pancreas gets the wrong signal and it thinks that it’s not making enough Insulin so it makes more.

However, the blood glucose levels go up, stay up and affects us in many harmful ways.

Insulin Resistance vs Diabetes

Oh yes, there is a slight difference. In the case of Insulin resistance, our cells don’t understand the signaling by Insulin and are unable to utilize the glucose efficiently and hence the blood glucose levels increase. However, the levels are generally still not that high as to qualify for diabetic category.

We can call it prediabetes and we can be in this stage for years without even knowing about it. The good news is that it’s easily reversible with proper care.

Diabetes on the other hand, can be of two types, Type 1 and Type 2. In Type 1, our body can’t make Insulin hormone at all. In Type2 diabetes, body becomes immune to Insulin and whatever Insulin the body produces is not enough. Liver overproduces Insulin to keep a balance and exhausts itself soon, resulting into diabetes.

How To Detect Insulin Resistance

It is very hard to detect insulin resistance as it has no significant symptoms but that does not make it any less risky. Around 50% of people with prediabetes end up with diabetes later in life, if they do not make any lifestyle changes. Insulin resistance can only by detected by a blood test or glucose tolerance testing. However, a few signs might point to it:

  • Being overweight
  • Irregular lipid profile (low HDL or high cholesterol or high triglycerides)
  • High blood pressure of systolic 130 and above
  • Fasting glucose level over 100 mg/dl
  • waistline over 40 inches in men and 35 inches in women
  • A skin condition called acanthosis nigricans which is believed to occur due to the buildup of insulin in body. This can be identified by the dark, velvety patches on the back of neck, in armpits or in groin area
  • skin tags
  • Any other symptoms commonly associated with diabetes such as constant hunger, thirst or fatigue

The Bottom Line

Do consider undergoing a simple test – primarily a blood test, to confirm your suspicions in case you see any above-mentioned symptoms of insulin resistance, especially if:

  • you have a sedentary lifestyle or job
  • family history of diabetes
  • had gestational diabetes

Hope you found the post useful. Best weapon against any disease or illness is the knowledge to detect it before it makes irreparable damage to our body. Do join me on Instagram for more regular stories of health, nutrition, fitness and more.


Otherwise, till next Friday 🙂

Love, Health & Peace

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