Insulin resistance is a pathological condition where muscles, fat and liver cells do not respond properly to the hormone insulin, and thus cannot easily absorb glucose from the bloodstream. As a result, the beta cells in the pancreas increase the production of insulin. As long as the beta cells can keep up, the blood glucose (sugar) levels stay within the normal range, but over time with increasing age, the beta cells are unable to keep up and diabetes type 2 or prediabetes sets in. Men are more likely to develop insulin resistance than women, although not by much. The disease is quite common in India, with more than 10 million cases reported every year.
There are no symptoms of insulin resistance, at least not until your blood is checked. You could stay insulin resistant for years and not know it. However, some insulin resistant people develop a condition called ‘acanthosis nigricans’ characterised by dark patches on back, neck, groin and armpits, although this happens rarely.
When to see a doctor?
The only way to know if you have insulin resistance or not is to have a blood test. If the results are positive for insulin resistance, consult a doctor as to what should be the next step to controlling it. Always trust premier medical institutions like Paras Hospitals Group,which have specialized departments for treatment and expert care inyour condition.
Causes and Risk Factors
The exact cause of insulin resistance is uncertain, although there are a number of risk factors that lead to its development. They are:
- Being overweight or obese. The amount of fat you have is directly proportional to insulin insensitivity in the body, which means the body doesn’t respond to insulin.
- Sedentary lifestyle is a great risk factor when it comes to insulin resistance. Physical activity prevents insulin resistance, as it increases energy expenditure, and cells absorb glucose in the bloodstream.
- Having a high calorie, high carbohydrate, high fat or high sugar diet. Too much of everything is harmful and causes complications in the body, so a diet should be balanced.
- Taking high doses of steroids over an extended period of time, interferes with body’s metabolism, and can cause insulin resistance
- Having chronic stress has been known to increase chances of insulin resistance as well as diabetes
- Excessive fat stored in pancreas or liver is also a problem that may lead to insulin resistance
Treatment and Management
The first thing to do in order of treatment and management of insulin resistant is exercise and weight loss. Diet plays an important role as well. The aim of treatment and management of insulin resistance is to stop it from progressing into diabetes type 2.There are medications that reduce insulin resistance, like metformin and thiazolidinediones, but they are not as effective as physical exercise, which is twice as effective. The medications mentioned are better used in diabetes type 2 anyway. Omega 3 fatty acids have been known to prevent the progression into diabetes type 2, and so should be included in your diet. Walnuts, soybeans, and certain types of fish are rich in these acids.