Insulin resistance (IR) occurs when the cells in your body fail to respond to the normal actions of insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps to regulate carbohydrate and fat metabolism in the body. It allows the cells in your body to absorb and store glucose—which your body needs for energy.
In insulin resistance, your body’s cells have a diminished ability to respond to insulin. As your body works harder to make up for the lack of insulin being absorbed, your pancreas will produce more of it. This is dangerous because your cells are not receiving the glucose they need and the high blood sugar levels can damage your organs.
What Contributes to Insulin Resistance?
- Excess weight or obesity
- Physical inactivity
- Steroid use
- Some medications
- Sleep problems like Sleep Apnea
What are the Dangers of Insulin Resistance?
- Prediabetes and type 2 diabetes
- Hardening of artery walls which could lead to coronary artery disease or stroke
- Fatty liver which could lead to cirrhosis or cancer
- Skin lesions
- Growth abnormalities
How to Diagnose and Treat Insulin Resistance
There is no specific test for insulin resistance. Rather, your doctor may diagnose you if you are obese, have high blood pressure, high triglycerides or any of the above risk factors. Getting to and maintaining a healthy weight is essential in treating insulin resistance. Your doctor will recommend a healthy diet and exercise plan, which will help your body to accept insulin easier. There are medications that your doctor can prescribe. However, in most cases, lifestyle changes are key to treating insulin resistance and preventing harmful disorders. If you feel like you may be at risk for insulin resistance, contact your doctor or weight loss specialist immediately.