top of page

Insulin Resistance (IR)

What is insulin resistance?

Insulin is a hormone that is released by the pancreas whenever you eat food, especially carbohydrates/sugars. It helps the body use or store blood sugar in the muscles, adipose tissue, and liver. When this mechanism becomes impaired or overwhelmed, the pancreas releases more insulin to meet the demands of energizing the cells while trying to control blood glucose levels.

Woman worried.jpg

The body builds up a tolerance to insulin making it less effective and more resistant. As this continues the pancreatic function will not be able to the meet the demands for insulin, which leads to increased glucose or hyperglycemia and hyperinsulinemia. This rise in glycemic levels will lead to prediabetes and later Type 2 diabetes.

The essential process: Food is eaten, pancreas makes and releases insulin to all cells (not the brain), cells resist the insulin, sugar continues to circulate in the body and is stored as fat, causing fatigue and hunger, and cycle starts again.

What are the common risk factors for insulin resistance?

Insulin resistance is an acquired condition, through

  • Sedentary lifestyle

  • Increased weight

  • Obesity

  • Advanced age

  • A diet high in carbohydrates

  • Gestational diabetes

  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

  • Sleep apnea

  • Genetic predispositions

It is theorized that accumulation of extra fat tissue causes physiologic stress, inflammation, and other cellular changes.

What are the symptoms of insulin resistance?

  • Skin tags

  • Belly fat

  • Increased thirst or hunger

  • Fatigue

  • Increased urination

  • Waist line >35 inches

  • Blood pressure becomes elevated

  • Fasting glucose >95

  • Elevated fasting triglycerides

  • HDL cholesterol <50

  • Dark skin patches called acanthosis nigricans

  • Menstrual irregularities and hyperandrogenemia

How is IR diagnosed?

  • Fasting blood glucose

  • A1C

  • OGTT-I: Oral Glucose Tolerance Test with Insulin

What treatments are available for insulin resistance?

  • Increasing your physical activity to 30min’s a day for at least 5 days a week.

  • Eating a diet of protein, good fats (nuts, olive oil, avocado) and fiber. Rule of thumb: 30gms of carbohydrates each meal and no more than 110gms each day for non-pregnant women.

  • Anti-inflammatory supplements: Omega 3s, Vitamin B complex, Vitamin C with bioflavonoids. Also beneficial is: Turmeric, Vitamin A and Vitamin D.

  • Medications: Metformin has been found to help to improve insulin action utilization in elevated insulin concentrations.

  • Other insulin lowering agents can be used depending on a case-by-case patient basis and severity of insulin resistance.


bottom of page