Insulin - the hormone:
Insulin is a hormone released from the pancreas (an organ located behind the stomach) into the bloodstream, which regulates the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and protein. It enables the liver, muscle and fat cells to absorb glucose, and use it for energy.
Let’s understand this better:
- Food (specifically carbohydrates) is broken down by the body into a type of sugar called glucose, which is the main source of energy for the body’s cells.
- When the cells are full of energy, the extra glucose is stored by the liver in the form of glycogen.
- When the cell’s glucose is depleted, the liver breaks down the glycogen into glucose and releases it into the bloodstream, for utilization by the cells.
- Without insulin, the cells will not be able to utilize the glucose for energy, and it remains in the bloodstream, thereby increasing blood sugar levels.
How blood sugar levels can be measured:
- At home, using a glucometer
- At a diagnostic lab, through a blood test
Blood sugar levels:
- Normal : Less than 100 mg/DL
- Pre-diabetic : Between 100 mg/DL to 125 mg/DL
- Diabetic : Higher than 125 mg/DL
High insulin sensitivity allows the cells of the body to use blood glucose more effectively, reducing blood sugar.
Insulin Resistance & Prediabetes:
With insulin resistance, the cells in the liver, muscles and fat are unable to absorb the glucose from the bloodstream, resulting in an increase in blood sugar. The pancreas then end up producing more insulin to help the glucose enter the cells. As long as the pancreas are able to produce enough insulin, the blood glucose levels will stay in a healthy range.
However, elevated blood glucose levels leads to prediabetes, which is when the blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.
Insulin resistance is caused due to:
- Excess weight
- Physical inactivity
Insulin resistance is associated with:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
- Metabolic syndrome
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
Ways to avoid or treat insulin resistance and promote insulin sensitivity:
- Physical activity (Read 'My Exercise Schedule.')
- Losing weight (Read 'How I Lost 30 Pounds In 3.5 Months.')
- Intermittent fasting (Read ‘Intermittent Fasting – The Basics.’)
- Eating a healthy, balanced diet (Read 'What I Ate To Lose 30+ Pounds In A Few Months.')
My personal experience:
Before losing weight in 2018, I had checked my fasting blood sugar level (i.e. the blood glucose count taken 8 to 10 hours after eating), and to my surprise it was in the 140 mg/DL range. It was a huge wake-up call since I have a family history of diabetes.
After a few months of healthy eating, exercise and intermittent fasting, my fasting blood sugar levels went down to 95 mg/DL, which is in the normal range.
As evident from my journey, adopting a healthy lifestyle is an extremely important step in combating insulin resistance.
Hope this article has been helpful in understanding insulin resistance and how it can be tackled.
Do read my other health and weight loss posts, here.
Thank you for reading! Stay blessed!