What is insulin resistance and how to reverse it?

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In my last post, we discussed about insulin synthesis, secretion and its defects. In this section, we will see especially relevant information on insulin resistance and ways to reverse it. We know that whatever the food we eat, it gets converted to glucose. Consequently, pancreas produces insulin in response. When our body cells cannot utilize insulin therefore glucose cannot gets converted to energy. This insensitivity of body cells is nothing but insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is not a disease. It is a syndrome where body metabolism gets abnormal.

Since nineteenth century, descriptions of insulin resistance are available. In 1931, Professor Wilhelm Falta first stated that the insulin resistance may lead to Type 2 Diabetes. Sir Harold Percival Himsworth, in 1936, reinforced that insulin resistance is the cause of Type 2 Diabetes. In 1960, Noble prize receiver Dr Rosalyn Yalow with Solomen Berson, identified insulin resistance with radioimmunoassay technique. Another discovery specified that insulin receptors on the cell membranes have a reduced sensitivity to the insulin message. This may result in overproduction of insulin in order to control blood sugar .

Causes of Insulin Resistance

Research says, 1/4th of the population prone to develop chances of insulin resistance genetically. The exact cause of insulin resistance is not fully understood. Probably, there is one or more factors causing the insulin resistance;

  • Family history of diabetes, Hypertension, cardiovascular diseases
  • Obesity
  • Stress
  • A high calorie diet
  • Inadequate physical activity : Lack of Exercise
  • High dosage of steroids for longer period
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome, progesterone deficiency and heavy periods in women
  • Overproduction of insulin by pancreas
  • Smoking
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Accelerated aging
  • High levels of inflammation

More is the sensitivity of cells, less is the requirement of insulin to bring down glucose levels. Opposite, more is the resistance to insulin, more is the secretion of insulin by pancreas to tackle blood glucose. As a result, it provides extra burden on pancreas. Furthermore, impairment and worsening of beta cells.

Reverse insulin resistance

Reversing the insulin resistance is immensely important. This problem can be minimized through aggressive lifestyle changes, diet control, physical activities, few supplements and stress management. More is the insulin sensitivity, healthier you are.

Diet control

First of all, emphasize more on unprocessed and low refined food. Starches in adequate quantity are good. No to high calorie diets like desserts, candy, cakes, soft drinks, sweetened yogurt, honey, dried fruits and fruit juice. Carbohydrates intake should be as much as 40 TO 50 % of diet.

Proteins contribution should be around 20 to 30 % in your diet. Protein rich food like red meat, seafood,eggs, high fiber diet, food containing omega-3, soy products improve insulin sensitivity.

Also, fats intake must be around 30% for proper balance of diet. Avoiding saturated fats like processed meat, fried and baked food, dairy products enhance insulin sensitivity. Seafood, olive oils, nuts,  and vegetable seeds are useful.

So, combining adequate proteins, fats and carbohydrates can control glycemic load. Meal habits like taking meal every 4 hours (rather than 2 heavy meals i.e. Lunch and Dinner) a day and finishing meal at least 2 to 3 hours before bed helps to keep glucose insulin homeostasis.

Finally, more focus on regular consumption of anti-immflammatory foods, detoxifying foods, anthocyanidins, antioxidants, phytonutrients helps to prevent and reverse diabetes and insulin resistance.

Yet, dietary measures is very vast topic to cover. Therefore, above information is confined to the title only.

Dietary supplements

Regular use of vitamin E, Vitamin B, Minerals (Calcium, Chromium, Magnesium, Vanadium, Zinc) are recommended to be a part of your regular diet. Magnesium deficiency causes insulin resistance. Hence, a magnesium rich diet like green vegetables, legumes and nuts should be consumed as regular diet intake in addition.

Exercise

Exercise is utmost critical for reversing insulin resistance. Regular exercise will help to manage diabetes. Vigorous exercise, brisk walking, gym workouts, Aerobics, Yoga, etc are very much helpful in reducing body fats. Time duration for exercise depends on your stamina. At least 30 to 60 minute is approximate. Exercise significantly improve insulin sensitivity.

Adequate Sleep

It seems like one night of sleep deprivation is much as 6 months on a high-fat diet. Both could impair insulin sensitivity to a similar degree, according to research. A good night’s sleep can do wonders. Aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. Figure out the reasons of bad sleep. Either it is a stress or maybe diet deficiency.

Managing stress

Stressful situations put on hold all non-essential functions inside body temporarily. Cortisol release signals insulin to restrict glucose uptake to the cells. Also liver releases excess amount of glucagon into bloodstream. While we feel stressful, this situation gets activated and repeated. Furthermore, continuous excess glucose levels leads to insulin resistance by cells. Stress management can be achieved through Yoga, physical exercise, breathing therapy, laughter therapy, meditation, spiritual living and massage on regular basis.

In this section, we have not discussed the necessary medications for reverse insulin resistance. A number of medications with specific class and its own effects are available like biguanides, Thiazolidinediones, Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors which helps to improve insulin sensitivity.

1 COMMENT

  1. Actually it is known what causes insulin resistance. It is insulin itself. Consistently high levels of insulin in the body in response a high carb diet rich in processed non real foods coupled with frequent eating causes insulin resistance.

    I reversed my type 2 diabetes on a low carb high fat diet, using intermittent and extended fasting as complimentary tools.

    Would love to hear your opinion on The Obesity Code by Dr. Jason Fung.

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