Insulin plays an essential role in your overall health. An imbalance in how your body uses insulin can lead to various diseases. To make sense of the effects of insulin resistance, It's important to understand the role insulin plays in your body. Especially if you're diagnosed as insulin resistance because this understanding will help you better manage your insulin.

What Is Insulin?

Your pancreas produces the vitally important hormone insulin, which affects many aspects of your body's systems. Its primary job is to regulate the amount of glucose in your bloodstream. It's also responsible for storing glucose in your fat, muscles, and liver and contributes to regulating your body's metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.

What Causes Insulin Resistance?

The causes of insulin resistance vary, but some of the risk factors are smoking cigarettes, cigars, a pipe, or chewing tobacco, not getting enough sleep, carrying excess weight, and having a concentration of belly fat around your middle. It's important to note that anyone of any size can become insulin resistant, as aging, genetics, and even ethnicity can affect your body's insulin response. If any of these factors lead to insulin resistance, your body will launch a vigorous fight back by producing more insulin.

Other risk factors include:

  • Eating a high-sugar, high-calorie, or high-carbohydrate diet
  • Sedentary lifestyle with little physical activity
  • Another health condition that has caused you to need high doses of steroids over an extended time
  • Prolonged stress in your life
  • Polycystic Ovary Disease (PCOS) or Cushing's Disease 

In some rare cases, another condition can be responsible for hyperinsulinemia, such as insulinoma, a tumor of the pancreas' insulin-producing cells. Nesidioblastosis is another possibility in which abnormal growth of the cells produces insulin in the pancreas.

How to Know if You're Insulin Resistant

At first, you may not notice any symptoms, and you'll only have obvious signs once the insulin resistance leads to higher blood sugar levels. High blood sugar can cause any or all of the following symptoms: 

  • Increased hunger
  • Unexplained or unusual lethargy and fatigue
  • Brain fog and difficulty concentrating

Other signs that accompany insulin resistance can include:

  • A concentration of weight around your midsection (especially if you carry little excess weight elsewhere on your body)
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol levels

Insulin resistance can develop into prediabetes or Type 2 Diabetes, which will then present with symptoms of increased blood glucose levels, and more of the classic symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes; including: 

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Increased hunger
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow-healing sores
  • Frequent infections
  • Problems with your extremities (especially your feet)
  • Diabetic neuropathy

What Are Some Ways to Reduce Insulin Resistance?

There are several ways to reduce your chances of insulin resistance, such as eating healthy and moving more. A few tips to help reduce insulin resistance include:

  • Follow a low-carb diet: Of your three main macronutrients, carbohydrates, protein, and fat, you can hold carbs responsible for raising your blood sugar and insulin levels the most. For people with diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, and PCOS, low-carb diets can reduce insulin levels and increase insulin sensitivity. 
  • Add apple cider vinegar to your diet: A 2010 study suggested that apple cider vinegar may help high blood sugar. After you consume meals or snacks high in carbs, adding apple cider vinegar afterward could help you prevent high insulin levels. 
  • Watch your portion sizes: Depending on what food you eat, your pancreas releases differing amounts of insulin. However, if you consume too much of any food in one sitting, it can lead to hyperinsulinemia. By itself, it isn't a sign of diabetes, but studies link it to Type 2 Diabetes.
  • Avoid all forms of sugar: Lower your severity of insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, or Type 2 Diabetes by cutting out table sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, syrup, and agave. Even alcohol contains sugars that can make your insulin levels spike, so if you drink, try to reduce the amount you consume or cut it out altogether. 
  • Stay away from refined carbs, which turn into sugar: Refined carbs also problematic because your body digests and absorbs them too quickly. Consuming whole foods, which take longer for your body to digest, may help lower your insulin levels. 
  • Exercise regularly: Try to get in some physical activity. Experts suggest adding 30 minutes of exercise three times a week to your routine. Even going for a walk a few times a week can help. Start slow if you need to, then work your way up to more activity as you're able. Whether you engage in aerobic exercise, strength training, resistance training, or combine them, you'll be increasing your insulin sensitivity. 
  • Add cinnamon to foods and drink green tea: Consuming cinnamon can lower your insulin levels and increase your insulin sensitivity. Drinking green tea can also help you achieve better insulin balance.
  • Try intermittent fasting: Intermittent fasting can deliver similar results to calorie restriction. However, findings are mixed, as people react differently to intermittent fasting. You might find this style of eating unsuitable, impractical, or undesirable. If you don't have any objections or obstacles, it may be worth giving it a shot. It can be easier to do than Keto, which requires a lot of food planning and avoidance of many food groups. Intermittent fasting produces the same benefits, as in both cases, the goal is to put your body into a state of ketosis. 
  • Increase your soluble fiber intake: You can do this by eating oats, dried beans and some fruits and vegetables. Studies show soluble fiber reduces appetite and lowers cholesterol.
  • Get enough sleep: Getting quality sleep each night is important to your body on many levels, but studies show that poor sleep effects insulin resistance.
  • Reduce your stress levels as much as possible: Stress affects your body's ability to regulate your blood sugar. Try yoga, stretching, breathing, or mindfulness meditation to help reduce stress levels.

If you're interested in diagnostic testing for your blood sugar, reach out to the knowledgeable team at biostation. Our goal is to recognize imbalances and deficiencies before you notice symptoms.