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Insulin is a natural hormone produced by the pancreas, the glandular organ behind the stomach. It helps the body's cells metabolize glucose so it can be used for energy. If someone has resistance, ie. insulin resistance, his body produces enough insulin, but it cannot be used effectively. Instead of being absorbed into the cells, glucose accumulates in the blood.
When cells are resistant to insulin, the pancreas is under pressure to produce more insulin hormone. Insulin resistance increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. It also increases the likelihood of developing prediabetes. This condition means that the blood sugar level is higher than normal, but not high enough to be considered diabetes.
Insulin resistance, however, does not always lead to diabetes. It may be possible to prevent type 2 diabetes by losing weight, eating carefully and exercising consistently.
Insulin resistance is a condition in which the cells of the body become more resistant to insulin.
Insulin resistance can be part of the metabolic syndrome, and is associated with a higher risk of developing heart disease.
Insulin resistance precedes the development of type 2 diabetes.
Insulin resistance has been linked to other medical conditions, including fatty liver, arteriosclerosis, acanthosis nigricans, and reproductive abnormalities in women.
Individuals are more likely to develop insulin resistance if they have any of several related medical conditions. They are also likely to be insulin resistant if they are obese.
Although there are genetic risk factors, insulin resistance can be managed with diet, exercise and proper medication.
Insulin resistance - cause
There are several causes for insulin resistance, and genetic factors (hereditary components) are usually significant. Some drugs can contribute to insulin resistance. In addition, insulin resistance often occurs with the following conditions:
1) metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions that include excess weight (especially around the waist);
2) high blood pressure and high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood;
5) infection or severe illness;
7) steroid use.
Insulin resistance symptoms
Insulin resistance often does not cause any visible symptoms, especially in the early stages. We could be insulin resistant for years without knowing it, especially if our blood glucose levels are not checked.
Some people with insulin resistance may develop a condition known as acanthosis nigricans. This condition creates dark spots on the back of the neck, groin and underarms. It also puts them at higher risk of type 2 diabetes. There is no cure for acanthosis, but if the causes are treated, some of the natural skin color can return.
Insulin resistance can damage blood vessels without being understood. This can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
If someone has insulin resistance, then they are at a significant risk for the progression of the condition to diabetes. The symptoms of type 2 diabetes can be mild, so it is not known until the doctor does diagnostic tests.
Insulin resistance - treatment
Lifestyle changes are important in the treatment of insulin resistance, namely, reduction of sugar and carbohydrate intake. Treatment for insulin resistance involves a variety of medications to supplement lifestyle changes.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the foundation of management for insulin resistance, and lifestyle changes begin at home.
By changing the diet, and especially the carbohydrates in the diet, the body can reduce the amount of insulin produced by the pancreas. Carbohydrates are absorbed in the body after they are broken down into their constituent sugars. Some carbohydrates break down and are absorbed faster than others and are said to have a high glycemic index. These carbohydrates increase blood glucose levels faster and require more insulin secretion to control blood glucose levels.
Several studies have shown that weight loss and aerobic exercise (without weight loss) increase the rate at which blood glucose is taken up by muscle cells as a result of improved cell sensitivity to insulin.
Medical treatment can be used as an adjunct to lifestyle changes and should be discussed as an option with our doctor.
Insulin resistance and pregnancy
Pregnant women who have never had diabetes before, but who have high blood glucose levels during pregnancy, are said to have gestational diabetes.
It is not known what causes gestational diabetes, but researchers have some clues. The placenta supports the baby as it grows. Hormones from the placenta will help the baby develop. But these hormones also block the action of the mother's insulin in her body. This problem is called insulin resistance. Insulin resistance makes it difficult for the mother's body to use insulin. It may need up to three times as much insulin.
Gestational diabetes begins when your body is unable to produce and use all the insulin necessary for pregnancy. Without enough insulin, glucose cannot leave the blood and be converted into energy. Glucose accumulates in the blood due to high levels. This is called hyperglycaemia.
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