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Warning: Dangers of Insulin Resistance

Updated on October 11, 2015

Diagram of Insulin Resistance

What is Insulin Resistance?

In order for you to comprehend the dangers of becoming sensitive/resistant to insulin, you need to know and understand exactly what insulin is. Basically it's a hormone in which our body's blood sugar levels are regulated by. Insulin is a peptide hormone generated in the pancreas (by beta cells) that allows your glucose (blood sugar) to pass from blood into your cells to be used as energy. Insulin also controls the metabolism of fats, proteins and carbohydrates in your body. There are many other bodily functions that this hormone is a part of, including directing the growth of your cells. Now you're starting to get the picture of just how important this hormone is and how detrimental it can be to your overall health if you were to become sensitive or resistant to it. When the insulin produced by the pancreas cannot bind to receptors to allow glucose to pass through to cells, the pancreas tries to supplement this by secreting more insulin. Insulin resistance is when the body's cells don't react to high levels of insulin, resulting in a high blood sugar.


Insulin Resistant Cell

The Body needs Glucose

All of the body's muscles, skeletal tissue, nerves and major organs all require glucose to function correctly and efficiently. The hormone insulin will convert your body's glucose into energy. When your body's cells do not react to the insulin or become resistant to the effects of the hormone, glucose will stay in the bloodstream (moving into fat cells).The sugars are then converted to fat by the liver and stored by the body. Sugar is one of the main precursors of fat. The more sugar you have running through your body, the more fat your body will/is capable of retaining. Most people with affliction's such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease or who are obese suffer from insulin resistance or sensitivity.

Do you have Insulin Resistance?

Glucose in the Bloodstream

The many Faces of Sugar

There are many different types of sugars, many foods, such as fruits, dairy products, sweet potatoes, and vegetables contain natural sugars that are good to eat when done in moderation. If you are over weight, obese, or a diabetic, it is never good to consume a lot of sugar. Sugar is a stimulant that will increase your energy for a short period of time. But there are also some negative effects to it as well. In fact, besides making your body retain more fat, sugar can also rot your teeth, become an addiction creating cravings and overeating, and research has shown that consumption in large amounts can lead to type II diabetes and heart disease. Insulin Resistance precedes the development of type II diabetes.The more sensitive you become to insulin, the more fat your store, which is why obesity is a major factor in developing type II diabetes. The recommended daily amount of sugar should not exceed 38 grams for men, its even lower for women because of body composition (muscle to fat ratio). Women naturally have more fat in their body than muscle. These recommendations are based on added sugars that are not in your food naturally like they are in fruit. You can consume more natural sugars without the adverse reactions. Everyone is different and their metabolisms are different. These recommendations are also based on your age, activity, condition of your health, eating habits, as well as several other varying aspects. For example, an extremely active person who exercises frequently will obviously be able to consume more sugar than an inactive person without seeing any affects. Bottom line, consuming sugar in high doses can be very dangerous.

Symptoms of Insulin Resistance

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Symptoms of Insulin resistance explained by Dr. Cederquist

The Cause of Insulin Resistance is unknown

There are only theories and hypotheses as to what exactly are all the causes of insulin resistance. There are really no physical signs or symptoms of insulin resistance, however if you suffer consistently from fatigue, high blood sugar, inexplicable weight gain, unexplained sleepiness, inability to lose weight, aches and pains that migrate throughout the body, fatigue after eating, upper abdominal obesity, bloating, or increased hunger, you may want to consult a health care professional and get tested as quickly as possible. Some researchers have linked genetic factors (inherited) and some medications to resistance. Lack of exercise and obesity perpetuate insulin resistance. Approximately 25 percent of healthy Americans may be insulin resistant. A glucose tolerance test will determine whether you are insulin resistant or not. There are also genetic factors that may lead to resistance. Studies have shown African-Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans are more likely to develop the condition than other races.

Other mitigating factors that research has shown to also be associated with insulin resistance is hypertension, lack of physical activity or no exercise, and obesity. The condition of insulin resistance is in no way a terminal death sentence, it can be extremely controllable with regular exercise, a healthy diet/eating habits, and the proper medication that is provided by a health care professional.

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    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 3 years ago from North Texas

      My prof in my nutrition class a few years ago said excess weight and a sedentary lifestyle are big contributors to insulin resistance. Usually regular exercise can address the insulin resistance issue and prevent it from turning into diabetes II. Of course regular exercise will often help keep a person's weight down as well. Maintaining a healthful diet is important too, but exercise seems to play the bigger part.

      Glad to see you've written about this important issue. More people need this information because diabetes II is practically an epidemic. Exercise is not only the fountain of youth, but it may very well prevent a lot of diseases including diabetes II.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 3 years ago from North Texas

      My prof in my nutrition class a few years ago said excess weight and a sedentary lifestyle are big contributors to insulin resistance. Usually regular exercise can address the insulin resistance issue and prevent it from turning into diabetes II. Of course regular exercise will often help keep a person's weight down as well. Maintaining a healthful diet is important too, but exercise seems to play the bigger part.

      Glad to see you've written about this important issue. More people need this information because diabetes II is practically an epidemic. Exercise is not only the fountain of youth, but it may very well prevent a lot of diseases including diabetes II.

    • Carolyn Rae profile image

      Carolyn 4 years ago from NY

      Great hub! This topic really interests me because I have lost a lot of weight by cutting sugars and simple carbs out of my diet and as a result regulating my blood sugar and insulin levels. It has also improved my mood and my sleep schedule, probably due to some of the factors you outlined in this hub! Thanks and keep up the good work. I voted up. :)