Insulin Resistance, a term you may or may not have heard before, has been shown to lead to a multitude of serious health conditions. To lower your risks, it is important to first understand the role of insulin in the body, what leads to insulin resistance, prevention strategies and actions you can take today.

Insulin is a hormone produced in the beta cells located in the pancreas. It is the “key” that unlocks the door in your muscles, fat and liver cells for sugar to enter and be used for energy regulating blood sugar. When the cells are unable to respond normally to insulin, a condition known as insulin resistance develops increasing risks of chronic complications from blood vessel, nerve and organ damage.

Insulin resistance doesn’t happen suddenly, instead it develops over time when your body can no longer produce enough insulin to overcome the resistance. Your blood sugar becomes elevated but not high enough to be diagnosed with Diabetes. This condition is known as prediabetes and can lead to Type 2 Diabetes and its associated serious, often life-threatening complications.

Insulin resistance has no symptoms and may not be diagnosed until a person presents with one of these complications such as eye, kidney or nerve disease, possibly even a heart attack or stroke. Because of this you may be at risk or have insulin resistance right now and not even know it. In fact, the sad reality is 90% are unaware. It is critical to know the risk factors, be tested and make every effort to make some small, simple lifestyle changes today.

These are the risk factors:

  • Family history of Diabetes (parent or sibling)
  • Over age 45
  • African American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander
  • Overweight/Obese
  • Sedentary
  • History of high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, heart attack or stroke
  • Gestational Diabetes (Diabetes in pregnancy), Polycystic Ovarian Disease
  • Smoking

If you have are over 45, overweight, without symptoms and have at least one additional risk factor contact your healthcare provider to be tested. If your child, puberty or older than 10 years of age, is overweight, without symptoms and has at least one additional risk factor, they should be tested as well. A simple blood test, either a fasting blood sugar or an A1c, is used to diagnose prediabetes and Diabetes. Follow up testing is recommended based upon your risk factors and results.
THE GOOD NEWS…. insulin resistance can be prevented through simple lifestyle changes we all should be following. Set a goal of losing 7% of your current body weight, change your eating habits to incorporate less calories, fats, sugars and processed foods and slowly begin to exercise working up to 5 days a week for 30”. You can even exercise 10” 3x/day and get the same benefit. It has been shown these simple changes can reduce your risks of developing Type 2 Diabetes by more than half!
Changing lifestyle habits can be difficult, especially if you have been living a certain way for years. BUT, its never too late to make a few small changes that will have a significant impact to your future health. Find your “why” and use it to motivate you to stay on track so you can live a longer, healthier life!

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