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Could You Be Insulin Resistant?

Could You Be Insulin Resistant?

Do you crave carbs or sugar and are hungry shortly after eating? Do you have trouble sleeping, experience midday sleepiness or want to take a nap right after a meal? These are a few signs that can signal a blood sugar imbalance and insulin resistance. As many as 1 in 3 Americans may face insulin resistance, which means your body doesn’t properly respond to insulin. Over time, it can lead to prediabetes and type 2 diabetes if it’s not treated.

You may have heard a lot of talk lately about insulin resistance and its link to weight gain and diabetes. Insulin is a hormone that is essential for the body to function properly. It’s secreted by the pancreas and helps the body turn food into energy and helps regulate blood sugar levels. Insulin resistance occurs when the cells in your muscles, liver and body fat don’t respond well or stop responding at all to the insulin. When the cells can’t absorb blood sugar or glucose in the body, these levels begin to build up in the blood. The higher the blood sugar or glucose levels climb, the greater the risk of developing prediabetes which can progress into diabetes.

Anyone can suffer from insulin resistance, and it’s typically triggered by a combination of factors including family history, diet high in sugar, age, chronic stress, change in hormones, sleep apnea, obesity, certain medications. Certain ethnicities are at a higher risk too, with Latino, African Americans and Native Americans twice as likely to develop insulin resistance and diabetes. Those who take steroids, psychiatric, blood pressure and HIV medications are at a disproportionally higher risk of developing diabetes through weight gain that affects insulin sensitivity and secretion.

Often people with insulin resistance don’t report having any symptoms, but can experience signs including changes in sleep patterns, irritability, and excessive hunger after eating. Imbalances are most often uncovered during annual health exams and routine blood work that shows elevated blood sugar levels. Physicians also look for other signs of insulin resistance including skin tags or patches of dark velvety skin called acanthosis nigricans. A waistline of over 40 inches for men and over 35 inches for women, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, low HDL “good” cholesterol, and high fasting blood sugar levels are indicators that insulin levels are abnormal.

There are ways to reverse or help prevent insulin resistance problems and if you already have prediabetes, a few small changes in your daily routine could help prevent the condition from developing into diabetes. Exercise should be part of your daily routine. Working out at least 30 minutes, 5 days a week can improve your overall health. Eat a balanced diet that includes fresh fruits and vegetable and try to reduce the amount of refined sugar and carbohydrates that you consume each day. Avoid artificial sweeteners, fruit juice, soda including diet drinks, candy bars and anything with high fructose corn syrup and white flour. And if you are overweight, talk to your doctor or a registered dietician about the most effective ways to reduce your body weight. Reducing your weight by just 7% can help combat insulin resistance and lower your risk of developing diabetes.

When diet and exercise don’t work to reduce insulin problems, your doctor may recommend a prescription medication. While there are no medications that are specifically approved to treat insulin resistance, popular diabetes medications like metformin and thiazolidinediones (TZD’s) work to help regulate insulin and are proven to help lower blood glucose levels. And the wildly popular drugs Ozempic and Mounjaro, approved for use in the treatment of type 2 diabetes, and the drugs Victoza and Trulicity used for weight loss, are showing to be effective in those suffering with insulin resistance.