woman with diabetes at healthy breakfast pricks right index finger to check blood glucose levels for Insulin resistance 682x408

HEAL

Get the facts on insulin resistance

  • Sugar in food is called carbohydrates while sugar in blood is called glucose.
  • Of the 50 plus hormones made by your body, insulin is the only one that directly lowers blood glucose.
  • A blood test is needed to find out if you have insulin resistance.

Insulin is a hormone produced by your pancreas. Insulin uses your blood glucose as fuel to power cells in your muscles, fat and liver.

When your body’s cells struggle to use insulin your pancreas makes more. Sometimes your pancreas can make enough insulin to compensate for your body’s weak response. When it can’t your blood glucose levels can rise and your health care provider may diagnosis you as having prediabetes, metabolic syndrome or insulin resistance.  

The cause of insulin resistance

While medical experts don’t know all the reasons for insulin resistance (also known as metabolic syndrome and prediabetes), it is more common if you are overweight and aren’t physically active. You also may be insulin resistant if you have high blood sugar levels, high triglycerides, high LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, and low HDL (“good”) cholesterol.

Other risk factors for insulin resistance include:

  • a history of gestational diabetes, heart disease or stroke
  • a meal plan with a high percentage of carbohydrates
  • being age 45 or older
  • being Black, Native American, Hispanic/Latinx, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
  • having a parent or brother or sister who has diabetes
  • high blood pressure and cholesterol
  • polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS insulin resistance)
  • untreated sleep apnea
  • low activity, sedentary lifestyle

Signs of insulin resistance

Your health care provider will usually look for signs in your blood tests to see if you have prediabetes or may be insulin resistant. The most accurate test for insulin resistance is complicated and used mostly for research.

Prevention and treatment of insulin resistance

While some risk factors can’t be changed, many risk factors can have a positive impact on your blood glucose levels. These include:

  • eating fewer carbohydrates, especially processed carbs, sugary foods and drinks
  • moving more and losing weight
  • reducing stress
  • getting plenty of sleep.

These simple lifestyle changes really do work to treat insulin resistance. Talk with your health care provider about how to get started.

Programs such as OPTIFAST®, WW® (Weight Watchers), Nutrisystem® and GOLO for Life® encourage weight loss through diet, exercise and supplements. Study data show the amount and percentage of weight loss was consistent across all programs.

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