Integrative Medicine Blog

INSULIN RESISTANCE - WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW!

Korey DiRoma N.D. Sunday, November 06, 2016
Istock diabetes word cloud

Diabetes facts and how to reverse early pre-diabetic symptoms.

November is diabetes awareness month. In 2012, there were 29 million Americans reported having diabetes and 86 million Americans with pre-diabetes, with a total estimated cost of 245 billion dollars, of which, 176 billion dollars were related to direct medical costs. Diabetes.org reports that another 1.4 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes each year.

There are two types of diabetes – Type1 Diabetes (T1D) and Type 2 Diabetes (T2D). Here are some facts:

  • T1D can occur at any age, but is most commonly diagnosed from infancy to late 30s. If a person is diagnosed with T1D, their pancreas produces little to no insulin, and the body’s immune system destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas
  • T2D typically develops after age 40, but has recently begun to appear with more frequency in children. If a person is diagnosed with T2D, their pancreas still produces insulin, but the body does not produce enough or is not able to use it effectively
  • T1D represents about 5% of cases – which means an overwhelming number of cases are due to T2D. T2D is now a worldwide heath problem
  • T2D, also known as insulin resistant diabetes, is caused mainly by a high-carbohydrate, high-fat diet and inactivity or lack of exercise
  • 85% of people with T2D are overweight or obese (http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pubs/statsreport14/national-diabetes-report-web.pdf )

HOW DOES THE BODY DIGEST SUGARS?

Carbohydrates refer to different types of sugars (for a more thorough look at carbohydrates - CLICK HERE to read Dr. DiRoma's blog post - Demystifying Carbohydrates). Glucose is the predominant sugar used for metabolism and energy in the body. Since the body cannot live without glucose, the liver has mechanisms for making and maintaining normal glucose levels. After eating a meal or snack that contains glucose, blood glucose rises, and a hormone called insulin is secreted from the pancreas to lower glucose levels.

HOW DOES INSULIN LOWER BLOOD SUGAR?

The normal function of insulin is that it tells the liver cells to stop making glucose, increase glycogen (glucose storage) production, and increase fat-synthesis. In muscles cells, insulin increases glucose entry into the cells and promotes glycogen-synthesis. All of this is impaired with insulin resistance. When insulin cannot bind to the cell-receptor, the signal is essentially blocked and it cannot communicate with the liver and muscles. So the liver continues to make glucose and it decreases glycogen-synthesis, but it keeps on making fat! And insulin resistance in muscle cells does not allow for glucose to enter cells, so the glucose gets diverted back to the liver causing the liver to make MORE fat!

HOW DOES INSULIN RESISTENCE DEVELOP?

Diets high in carbohydrates over-stimulate insulin production. A sedentary lifestyle, or lack of exercise decreases the body’s energy expenditure and is therefore unable to utilize excess dietary glucose and fat. Fat accumulates in the liver and muscle cells, which causes insulin receptors not to work as well. The normal effects of insulin become impaired, blood glucose levels rise, and the liver continues to make fat, which further perpetuates the insulin resistance.

Elevated glucose levels stimulate the pancreas to make more insulin. Over time this causes the pancreas to “burn-out” which leads to less insulin production. This is why some with T2D will eventually require insulin injections to control blood glucose levels.

HOW CAN WE REVERSE INSULIN RESISTANCE?

As just explained, insulin resistance causes the body to MAKE fat. So how can this process be reversed? We have to reverse insulin resistance by making the cells more sensitive to insulin. For those who are pre-diabetic and even those with diabetes, insulin resistance is often reversible. At the Stram Center, our medical practitioners can order all the blood work necessary to determine early signs of insulin resistance. Our integrative team includes a nutritionist and a personal trainer that can get your started back on the path to reversing insulin resistance, burning fat, gaining strength, and improving your energy!

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