The term insulin resistance describes a condition in which the body's cells are less responsive to the effects of insulin. In other words, after you eat a meal, your blood sugar is higher than it should be because your cells don't take up all of the glucose (sugar) from your bloodstream. This causes two problems: First, your cells run out of fuel faster than they should; second, it can lead to blood vessel damage and kidney disease if left untreated. The good news is there are several natural ways to improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels naturally without resorting to medications or surgery.
What is insulin resistance?
Insulin resistance is a condition in which cells do not respond to the actions of insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps the body process food and uses glucose for energy, but when it doesn't work correctly, your body can't use it either. This can cause high blood sugar levels (also known as hyperglycemia).
Insulin resistance is different from having type 2 diabetes — people with insulin resistance don't have high blood sugar all the time. Still, they may have one or more episodes of hyperglycemia after eating (postprandial) or fasting (fasting hyperglycemia).
Some people may be able to reverse insulin resistance with lifestyle changes or medications; others may need insulin shots or tablet forms of diabetes medications if their condition worsens over time.
What is hyperinsulinemia?
Hyperinsulinemia is a condition where the body's levels of insulin are high. Hyperinsulinemia is a precursor to type 2 diabetes, but that doesn't mean it will lead to diabetes. It could also be a sign of pre-diabetes when blood sugar levels are higher than usual but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes.
Hyperinsulinemia can occur in people who are obese or have excess fat around their abdomen (called abdominal obesity). This is because the pancreas produces extra insulin to lower blood sugar after eating and drinking sugary foods or drinks. But suppose someone with hyperinsulinemia continues eating these foods continuously over time. In that case, the body will become resistant to its insulin production—even though there may be plenty of insulin around, some parts of your body won't respond appropriately when you produce them naturally from your pancreas.
Causes of insulin resistance
Many factors can contribute to insulin resistance. Some of the most common are:
Genetics. If you have a family history of diabetes, you may be more prone to developing it yourself. This is because some genes raise your risk for insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes while others protect against them. Inheritance isn't the only factor at work here; lifestyle choices can also influence whether or not someone develops insulin resistance.
Obesity. People with high levels of body fat have higher levels of inflammation throughout their bodies, increasing their chances of developing several diseases, including heart disease and diabetes mellitus type 2 (DM2). In addition, being overweight has been shown to reduce the effectiveness of insulin in lowering blood glucose levels after meals—which means that people with high BMIs will need more insulin than those with normal BMIs from the same carbohydrate intake to achieve similar results! This makes sense when we consider how fast food has become so prevalent in our culture today; these meals tend to contain large amounts of carbohydrates such as bread/pasta/rice, which require increased amounts.
Symptoms of insulin resistance
An increased thirst and urine output
Increased appetite and hunger
Elevated blood glucose (blood sugar) and insulin levels.
Your doctor will perform a blood glucose test to diagnose diabetes. The results of the test can also tell if you have pre-diabetes. If you have pre-diabetes, your blood glucose levels are higher than usual but not yet high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes.
If you are pre-diabetic, your doctor will likely recommend lifestyle changes to help you lower your blood sugar. These include eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. You may also need to take medications to lower blood glucose levels.
Insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes
Insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes are closely related but not identical conditions. Both are associated with obesity, high blood pressure, and abnormal cholesterol levels.
However, if you have insulin resistance — a condition affecting about 25 percent of people in the U.S., according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA) — it does not mean you will develop type 2 diabetes. If you have been diagnosed with insulin resistance or pre-diabetes and are concerned about developing full-blown type 2 diabetes someday, take positive steps today to reduce your risk factors for this disease.
Managing diabetes and pre-diabetes
As you manage your diabetes or pre-diabetes, it's essential to change your lifestyle. Eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, limiting alcohol intake, avoiding smoking, and getting adequate sleep are all critical to managing blood glucose levels. It's also important to take medications prescribed by your doctor as directed and monitor blood pressure and cholesterol levels — even if they're within normal ranges. You should get regular eye exams and be tested for thyroid disorders (which can cause insulin resistance).
Take action at the first sign of trouble
After you've been tested, the first step is to eat a healthy diet. You should eat a diet low in refined carbs and sugar. You also want to ensure that your diet is high in fiber, vegetables, fruits, and lean proteins. Healthy fats like olive oil can help raise good cholesterol levels as well.
When you start eating this way, your insulin resistance will begin to improve immediately — making it easier for you to lose weight if that's part of your goal (and it should be!). Within about six weeks or so of switching to the right foods for your body type, many people find their blood sugar levels stabilize at normal levels—which means they are no longer prediabetic!
Insulin resistance supplements
While there is no cure for insulin resistance, there are supplements you can take to help support your body's ability to respond naturally. Many of these have been shown in clinical trials to lower blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity.
Berberine: This herb has been shown to lower blood sugar, reduce inflammation, and improve cholesterol levels. It works well when taken at 500 mg twice daily.* The dosage should be increased if the product causes loose stools or diarrhea.* Do not combine with metformin (Glucophage).
Alpha-lipoic acid: This antioxidant helps protect cells from oxidative damage caused by free radicals.* It can also increase the effects of insulin by improving glucose uptake into skeletal muscle tissue.* Take 100-300 mg twice daily with meals for three months before gradually reducing the dosage to maintain optimal levels.* Be aware that ALA may interact poorly with some medications, including statins, so talk to your doctor about any potential interactions before taking this supplement.*
Chromium picolinate: This mineral helps regulate blood glucose levels by lowering the amount of glucose produced after eating a meal while raising the amount used as fuel during exercise (which requires more energy).* The recommended dose is 200 mcg per day (about 20 mcg per meal) taken on an empty stomach between meals; doses higher than 500 mcg may cause headaches or nausea in some individuals.*
Cinnamon: Research shows that this spice may enhance insulin sensitivity by increasing how much glucose gets absorbed into cells after eating high carbohydrate foods—especially when combined with chromium picolinate supplements above 1000 mcg daily!
You can take proactive steps to manage your health by learning more about insulin resistance and pre-diabetes. If you have any questions about this article's information, please contact your doctor or qualified healthcare professional.