Insulin resistance is a physiological condition where cells are no longer able to respond to the normal actions of the hormone insulin. For we who focus on permanent weight-management insulin resistance matters a great deal. The more insulin sensitive you are the better you metabolize carbohydrates. The more insulin resistant you are the worse you are at processing carbohydrates.
Insulin sensitive – good
Insulin resistant – bad
If you are insulin resistant your body needs to produce more insulin to get the same effect as someone who is insulin sensitive.
Excessive insulin production – bad
Minimal-but-adequate insulin production – good
Insulin is a hormone that is produced by the beta cells, which are cells that are scattered throughout the pancreas. The insulin produced is released into the blood stream and travels throughout the body. Insulin is an important hormone that has many actions within the body. Most of the actions of insulin are directed at metabolism (control) of carbohydrates (sugars and starches), lipids (fats), and proteins. Insulin also is important in regulating the cells of the body including their growth.
Insulin also switches on fat storage and switches off fat loss. If excessive insulin (hyperinsulinemia) is present due to insulin resistance then you’re going to have a harder time losing body fat.
Insulin resistance can be managed in two ways. First, the need for insulin can be reduced, and second, the sensitivity of cells to the action of insulin can be increased.
To reduce the need for insulin keep carbohydrate intake to between 30 and 50 percent of total caloric intake. Virtually no one needs a diet of 80 percent carb. Next reduce consume less-processed, sugary carbohydrates. Consume more fibrous vegetables (for example, broccoli, green beans, asparagus, carrots, and greens). Weight loss and exercise can also reduce the need for insulin by increasing cell sensitivity. Remember, the more sensitive cells are to insulin the less insulin necessary to get the job done.
Metformin (Glucophage) is a medication that may reduce the need for insulin and improve insulin sensitivity. It works through two mechanisms of action. It prevents the liver from releasing glucose into the blood, and it increases the sensitivity of muscle and fat cells to insulin so that they remove more glucose from the blood. Because of these actions, metformin reduces blood insulin levels.
While far less proven than reducing sugary, processed carbs, increasing fibrous veggies, losing weight, exercising and possibly being on a medication like metformin certain dietary supplements may also increase insulin sensitivity and/or aid in the disposal of blood glucose and are worth a look.
It is beyond the scope of this article to detail the potential mechanism of action of every supplement listed. Most practitioners likely to suggest a supplement will recommend chromium at a minimum. Supplements of all kinds can create strong effects in the body. Not all of these effects are positive for everyone. Before you take chromium do more reading online about it especially if you are being treated by a physician for anything. Additionally, taking every supplement on this list would be excessive and is not recommended. They are listed to give you a basis for more personal research.
Insulin Resistance At A Glance
- Insulin resistance is a condition in which the cells of the body become resistant to the hormone, insulin.
- Insulin resistance may be part of the metabolic syndrome, and associated with the development of heart disease.
- Insulin resistance precedes the development of type 2 diabetes.
- Insulin resistance is associated with other medical conditions including fatty liver, arteriosclerosis, acanthosis nigricans, skin tags, and reproductive abnormalities in women.
- Individuals are more likely to have insulin resistance if they have any of the associated medical conditions listed above. They also are more likely to be insulin resistant if they are obese or are Latino, African-American, Native American, and Asian-American.
- While there is a genetic component, insulin resistance can be managed with diet, exercise, and medication.