Everything you need to know about Insulin Resistance


What is insulin resistance?

Insulin resistance is a condition in which the cells fail to respond to insulin even when it is secreted and present in adequate quantities in the blood leading to poor regulation and high blood glucose levels.

Insulin resistance

Why is it important to know about insulin resistance?

Insulin resistance is a prevalent phenomena which is observed in over 50% of obese adolescents and over 70% of obese women.

Insulin resistance is also linked to increased risk of type 2 diabetes along with cancer, neuro-degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s along with heart disease.

Understanding the mechanism of insulin resistance

Insulin plays a critical role in maintaining a homeostatic process by regulating blood glucose levels.

In a healthy body, as we eat, our blood glucose levels go up along with which insulin levels rise in the blood to promote the utilisation of glucose by the cells. This is carried out when the receptors on the cells respond to insulin and uptake glucose for releasing energy in the body.

Whereas, in insulin resistance, the receptors of the cells don’t respond to insulin and the blood glucose levels chronically stay high where the cells are unable to utilise the glucose for energy leading to starvation of the cells and a state of lethargy in the body.

Thus, in insulin resistance, both blood glucose and insulin levels are high which is a dangerous condition leading to complications like high blood pressure and heart disease.

What causes insulin resistance?

  • A high – caloric diet with no exercise
  • Obesity
  • Inactive lifestyle
  • When diabetes runs in the family
  • Smoking

After understanding insulin resistance,a lot of similarities between insulin resistance and diabetes can be observed.

Let us now look at what makes insulin resistance and diabetes different from each other.

CategoryDiabetesInsulin Resistance
MeaningA disease that occurs due to the inability of the body to regulate blood glucose levels on its own.A disorder where the body cells do not respond to insulin and fail to utilise glucose.
Age group affectedChildren and adultsAdults over the age of 45
CauseUnhealthy dietInactive lifestyleCould be autoimmune where the pancreas get attackedCan occur as a complication in pregnancyObesityUnhealthy dietLack of exerciseLarge waist size
DiagnosisFasting blood glucose > 100mg/dLOral glucose tolerance test values are > 200 mg/dLFasting blood glucose >/= 100 mg/dLOral glucose tolerance test values range 140-199 mg/dL
SymptomsIncreased appetiteFrequent thirst Frequent urinationVision impairmentFatigueMostly asymptomatic but dark patches over the neck and underarms, unwanted hair and irregular menstrual cycles can be observed.
TreatmentTreatment varies depending on the type of diabetes diagnosed.Medication along with insulin may be administered.A change in diet and incorporating exercise in the routine are enough to manage the disorder. Metformin may be prescribed in some cases.

Ending note

Although the causes may seem out of control since it occurs internally and the implications could seem overwhelming, studies have shown that inculcating healthy habits and making lifestyle changes can build insulin sensitivity of the cells and also reverse the effects of insulin resistance. If you run the risk of having insulin resistance, consult a diabetes specialist today to manage insulin resistance and prevent complications associated with the disorder.

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