Functional Medicine and Insulin Resistance
Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body fails to properly respond to the hormone insulin. Insulin is produced by the pancreas and aids the body in the use of glucose for energy. If you have insulin resistance, your cells become resistant to the effects of insulin and your body fails to convert glucose for use by muscles and tissues in the body. During this, your pancreas continues to produce insulin, resulting in elevated levels of insulin in your bloodstream. With your cells unable to receive proper glucose and the increased amounts of insulin, with time your vital organs could become damaged.
Symptoms of insulin resistance include:
- Ankle swelling or burning feet
- Weight gain
- Digestive complications
- Irregular periods
- Fluctuating high blood pressure
Other causes of high insulin include:
- Hormone imbalances
- Increased stress
- Nicotine, caffeine or alcohol abuse
- Excessive dieting
Treating Insulin Resistance through Functional Medicine
Functional medicine is an approach to treatment in which the doctor seeks to discover the root causes of the issue and restore balance to your body, not just mask the symptoms with medication. Through functional medicine, your doctor will work to reverse the effects of insulin resistance through healthy nutrition, supplementation with vitamins, anti-oxidants and minerals, stress management, exercise, increased fiber intake and an increase in foods with a low glycemic index. Your functional medicine doctor may also use bio-identical hormone replacement therapy to help regulate your hormone levels that may be affecting your body’s reaction to insulin.
Your functional medicine doctor may incorporate a variety of vitamins and minerals into your treatment such as:
- Chromium. This can be found in vegetables such as broccoli and can help make insulin work more effectively in your body. A diet that is high in carbohydrates can negatively affect your levels of chromium.
- Alpha Lipoic Acid. This helps burn glucose and can improve insulin sensitivity. Lipoic acid can be found in potatoes, spinach and red meat.
- CLA. This is a naturally occurring fatty acid that helps to improve insulin sensitivity, aids in weight loss and is an anti-oxidant.
- Taurine. Taurine is an amino acid that also helps to improve your body’s sensitivity to insulin. Taurine also increase the activity of your insulin receptors, which aids in glucose metabolism.
- Magnesium. Magnesium is involved in over 300 enzymes used in the body for growth. It aids in those who suffer from hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and improves glucose uptake.
Functional medicine has shown that the classic ideas of diet, prevention and treatment of insulin resistance have changed. The way we look at nutrients has changed as well. Functional medicine doctors have noted that in the past, nutrients were used to prevent disease. Whereas, they are now used to optimize physiological function. A functional medicine doctor uses new tools to optimize your care and effectively treat your chronic disorders.